Welcome to the White House Bar & Grill

Published 9:16 am Thursday, August 6, 2009

It appears, based on all the national media frenzy, that last week’s beer summit at the White House marked the first time in the history of mankind that an issue was hacked out over a round of brews.

I hate to burst the Bartender-In-Chief’s bubble, but Obama isn’t the first to attempt to solve the world’s problems using beer as an ice-breaker.

As we all know by now, the President summoned Harvard University professor Henry Gates and Cambridge, Massachusetts Police officer James Crowley to a garden area just outside the Oval Office on Thursday of last week. This came on the heels of Crowley, who is white, arresting Gates, who is black, outside the professor’s home after an attempted break-in was reported.

A racially-charged (pardon the pun) brew-ha-ha ensued. Gates claimed racial profiling; Crowley denied that; and the President, with his foot placed firmly in his mouth, fueled the fire by saying he thought the Cambridge Police “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates, a friend of Obama.

On Thursday, the trio sat down over a round of beer in an effort to defuse the confrontation between Gates and Crowley. For some strange reason, Vice-President Joe Biden was also seated at the outdoor “bar” – despite his stance as a tee-totaler when it comes to alcohol. Perhaps he was there to make a beer run just in case the cooler ran dry. Or maybe his presence was required to re-fill the pretzel and peanut bowls.

The brew-swigging foursome chose their suds carefully – the President had a Bud Light; Gates selected a Sam Adams Light; Sgt. Crowley went with a Blue Moon and Biden boldly drank a Buckler (a nonalcoholic beer).

Just wondering if Obama bowed down to his brew? Isn’t Budweiser still listed as the King of Beers?

As previously mentioned, the Prez isn’t the first to attempt to solve an issue while turning up a cold one. From the outset of producing a drink from fermented hops and barley, mankind (and perhaps womankind – I don’t know what they do on a girls night out) has bellied up to the bar from where lively discussions have ensued over a variety of topics.

Give a man a few drinks and his lips start moving, often time before the brain kicks into gear. Just think of all the major issues that could have been resolved by hashing things out over a round of beers.

What if Harry Truman, with a cold glass of Pabst Blue Ribbon in his hand; Hitler, turning up a Lowenbrau, and Winston Churchill, with a pint of Bass Pale Ale, could have ironed out their differences inside a bar….perhaps World War II would have never evolved.

Ditto for Abraham Lincoln, his top hat brimming with beer, and Jefferson Davis, pouring down some sort of Southern home brew…the Civil War could have been settled in a bar fight (plus old Honest Abe could possibly have later died of natural causes).

If JFK and Fidel Castro would have engaged in a friendly game of beer pong back in the 1960’s, perhaps they would not have seen the need to scare the wits out of their citizens by aiming missiles at each other.

If Carson and Letterman would have sat down over a pitcher or two, big Dave would today be hosting the most renowned late night TV show of all time instead of the less than desirable Conan O’Brien.

But yet it was O’Brien who, like all comedians who had a field day with the event, came-up with the best joke about the White House beer blast.

“President Obama, of course, everyone knows, has invited Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and the police officer who arrested him to the White House for a beer,” O’Brien said. “Of course, this could be trouble, because the last time Obama got a few beers in him, he bought General Motors.”

Cal Bryant is Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be reached at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.