22 August 2012

Potemkin Brewing

Liquidity Preference | Jacob Grier | A brewery in the White House

We are deep into that part of the election when it’s impossible to escape the flood of frivolous news articles about what the candidates ate, exaggerated gaffes, or pretty much anything except actual policy. This week’s example: the fervor about the homebrewed beer that Obama occasionally breaks out on the campaign trail. Crowds chant “four more beers,” reporters get to write punny headlines like “Obama plays up love of beer to ferment coalition of the swilling,” and beer lovers in my Twitter feed gush that the president makes and drinks beer just like them, so, like, who cares about all his Bush-esque civil liberties abuses?

I reacted to the story with my usual political cynicism, but on further reflection having a sitting president publicly boast of his homemade beer represents a real advance in freedom. Though it’s hard to believe as I sit here typing in Portland, Oregon, where making a batch of homebrew with friends is a wholesome afternoon activity, brewing beer at home continued to be against the law in the United States long after Prohibition.

I have to disagree with Grier's optimism. If Obama was using this homebrew as a way of symbolically representing his willingness to bring some more freedom and rationality and respect to America's horseshit alcohol and food laws, then I would be all for it.

I suppose it's nice he's at least paying lip service to the benefits of being free to brew, but that's small beer (*heh*) compared to actually doing something. Check Grier's excellent post for run-down of all the numerous ways DC is still hanging on to Prohibition.

I feel about the same way as if the POTUS was walking around talking about how much he loved Brokeback Mountain and The Birdcage and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. It's a step in the right direction, in that I can't even conceive of any President prior to now publicly doing that. But compared to actually taking action and doing things to help gay people, it's worthless. No, it's less than worthless, because if I can't have substance I don't want style that pretends to substance either.

PS Let's also get one thing straight: this is "homebrew" that Obama had made for him by his taxpayer-funded private chefs. This is homebrewing the way rich white jackasses on safari in the 20's would have done it.

"Oh look, I'm a regular guy like you. I work on my car on the weekends too! Except by 'work on my car' I mean 'fly in a mechanic from Mercedes-AMG to tune-up my SL65 for me."

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