The Beer Summit That Fell Flat
`President Obama's advisers need to hit the books on Media Reaction to Staged Events Involving Beer 101 ["It Wasn't One for the Guinness Book," July 31]. What did they expect when they staged this little tete-a-tete outdoors, in full view of the cameras? Of course news outlets were going to have an Oktoberfest of fun flexing their collective wit, as Dana Milbank's Washington Sketch did by listing possible names for the event: "Beerastroika"; "Audacity of Hops"; "A Thousand Points of Bud Light." I was frankly impressed by this frothy stream of literary/historical/political allusion.
One wonders how the get-together might have turned out if Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sgt. James Crowley had met with the president inside the White House -- out of ear- and eyeshot of the media -- to have a quiet, thoughtful discussion, an impossible task under the watchful glare of roving cameras. Or, as Mr. Milbank's delightful column suggested: "Had they been a bit more creative, the summiteers could have used their time in the White House beer garden to promote some small American brews."
That titan of wit, Oscar Wilde, wrote, "A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal." So who knows -- maybe it's all right that very little was accomplished at the, ahem, beer summit.
The July 31 front-page photo of President Obama and Vice President Biden sipping beers with Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sgt. James Crowley sends the wrong signal.
Why must alcohol be involved when grown men sit down to casually fraternize and discuss issues? Are the two most powerful men in the free world sending the message to our youth that it's okay to drink if it's in the name of diplomacy? I don't want to carry this too far, nor do I want to sound too puritanical, but I do think Mr. Obama could have made a point -- even without foam on his top lip.
KRISTIN CLARK TAYLOR
Great Falls, Va.