Friday, July 31, 2009

Short Beer?

I am not a big beer drinker, but I like the stuff enough to have cultivated a discriminating tongue for it. I also have a keen sense for beer humor, which is why I enjoy Web sites like Beer Facts. I mention this site because it contains what Jane Austen would have called "a truth universally acknowledged" had she been a beer drinker (which, for all we know, she was):

There is no such thing as a short beer. (As in, "I'm going to stop off at Joe's for a short beer before on the way home.")

This "truth" (complete with its convoluted syntax) was the first thing that occurred to me while reading the wire service account of last night's White House meeting on Al Jazeera English:

Barack Obama, the US president, has hosted a black professor and white police officer in an attempt to defuse a simmering race row that erupted when Henry Louis Gates Jr was arrested by Sergeant James Crowley.

The meeting at the White House - dubbed the "Beer Summit" - lasted just 40 minutes, but all three men agreed that something positive had come out of the incident, which had become a sensation in the US media.

Being white, I cannot say what I really want to say about this (but the second word is "please"); but, really, who the hell spends only 40 minutes over a beer? It takes at least half an hour for the beer to unlock the conversational wheels and get them turning at all! I appreciate our President's efforts to do damage control over his own counterproductive act in this "simmering" situation; but would it have been that much of a strain on his schedule to have a real conversation instead of a staged media event? Perhaps my historical memory has clouded, but I just cannot imagine President Jimmy Carter handling this kind of affair quite so superficially.

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