December 4, 2013
© Sal Burciaga
© Sal Burciaga

Y’all remember former representative Allen West, don’t you? He’s the African American Florida Republican who once called himself a “modern-day Harriet Tubman” during his one term in office. Anyway, West is still out there sharing his musings with the world, and one from yesterday caught my eye.

The Washington Times reported Monday that the State Department spent $180,000 on booze in September. Thousands spent on wine in Brazil and Japan and on whiskey and bourbon in Russia, for instance. Not surprisingly, West took issue with this. After disclosing that he doesn’t drink anything stiffer than ginger ale, West wondered if liquor purchases by State were wise expenditures.

However, I believe this is something where we must ask ourselves, is this a good use of our American taxpayer dollars, regardless of political party? I know entertaining is important for these government agencies, but I don’t recall any General officer using taxpayer dollars to fund alcohol purchases for parties. Maybe I’m wrong. Chime in folks, are you ok with our State Department, and who knows others, using your taxpayer dollars to get their drink on?

Yes, “Harriet,” you’re wrong.

Now, full disclosure: My partner works at the State Department. Also, I am a firm believer in the importance of keeping alcohol in the toolbox of diplomacy. Nothing breaks the ice like, well, the tinkling of ice in a highball. Furthermore, it’s not like that $180,000 was spent at just one embassy or consulate. Even I would have to give that line-item a cocked eyebrow. No, $180,000 on booze at embassies and consulates around the world is like loose change in the cushions of a $3.78 trillion federal budget. Therefore, one must be truly desperate to go looking for it.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.