The merits of tonight's summit aside, what are the rules of beer diplomacy? This being late July, quite a few people weigh in.
John Dickerson explores the politics of Obama's beverage choice, quickly declaring that "sherry would not have been the right call" before moving straight into the pitfalls of what many would consider the safest choice, beer:
There is plenty of elitism in beer these days. The next time you're at Whole Foods, count how many seconds it takes before a man wearing a golf shirt, no socks, and loafers is standing beside you examining the shelves of expensive foreign and microbrewed beers. Wine, meanwhile, has been moving in the other direction, though of course there have always been bargain-basement brands: Thunderbird, MD 20/20, Night Train, and Boone's Farm.
So will Obama be handing out Wild Irish Rose in brown paper bags? No, he will not:
The thing with beer is that it's about not class but diffusion. Obama wants to lessen tensions, so he's picked the drink of the backyard and the ballgame. Whether you light your grill by pressing a button or dumping a can of lighter fuel on briquettes, you probably have a beer nearby. If Thursday night's group therapy were playing out in any suburban American home, the next move after getting the beers would be for Obama to show the two men his new flat-screen TV. Beer is the antithesis of the strutting and overreacting that gripped all three male actors in this drama (unless you drink too much, and then it is the enabler of those impulses).
Beer it is! But what kind? Responding to criticism that Obama's choice of Bud Light is foreign-owned and mass-produced, CBS news correspondent Mark Knoller reminded folks in a tweet that this is no time to get nationalistic. "Forget foreign-owned beer," he wrote. "US Govt is part foreign-owned. $3.3-trillion in US Treasury notes owned by foreign countries." The National Review's Michael Warren wants something bolder, calling Bud Light a "middle-of-the-road, poll-tested, non-controversial beer." The New Republic's Michael Crowley says Obama should have picked a Boston beer:
The idea being that since Gates is a Red Stripe or Bass man and Crowley prefers Blue Moon, maybe Obama could find common ground between the two of them by pouring a beer from their neighborhood. That made sense to me. [...] You'd think that Sam Adams, or even Harpoon, are big enough national, mainstream brands that Obama could have served them without looking like someone with elite tastes. But I guess Bud Light is a safer call. Still, if Obama is intent on using this whole episode as a "teachable moment," you'd think he could teach Americans to drink something better than Bud Light.
Christopher Orr, also of the New Republic, follows up by recommending the North Korean beer Taedonggang: "I thought I'd suggest a still-further-outside-the-box alternative, something that would remind all concerned that, whatever our differences as Americans, there is far, far more we have in common." He continues, "A few thousand cases of that beauty might even persuade North Korea to chill out and rejoin the global community." Orr helpfully provides the beer's slightly unusual commercial.