Neither George W. Bush nor Donald J. Trump, the last two Republican presidents, drinks alcohol. Bush was a former alcoholic, so I understand; he’d had substance abuse problems. But Trump didn’t have such issues. He chose not to drink (if we’re to believe a pathological liar) for reasons he’s never explained convincingly, although it’s likely he did drugs, including cocaine, during his Studio 54 days.
I don’t trust politicians who don’t drink. (Truth to tell, I don’t much trust anyone who doesn’t drink, but politicians above all.) Drinkers (I mean, moderate ones) know how to relax. They’re fun to hang out with. Drinkers can throw off the strait jacket of propriety and let it all hang out.
There’s no evidence that drinking, even heavily, impairs a politician’s abilities. One of the ablest politicians of the 20th century, Winston Churchill, was notorious for his prodigious capacity when it came to alcohol. The man had brandy for breakfast (not that I recommend that). A journalist who was present at Churchill’s famous March 5, 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech, in Fulton, Missouri, noted that, at dinner that night, Churchill happily consumed “one martini, two sherries, four or five glasses of Champagne and a formidable balloon of brandy.” And that was just with dinner. We can assume that both pre- and post-prandially, he drank copious amounts of brandy, Port or whiskey, because that was the way he rolled.
Churchill’s penchant for drinking began early and lasted until his death, in 1965. In 1899, when he shipped out to fight in the Boer War in South Africa [which made his reputation in much the same way JFK’s PT-109 bravery made his], Churchill made sure to bring with him “36 bottles of wine, 18 bottles of aged scotch, and six bottles of vintage brandy.”
It’s become a meme of politics to inquire whether one would want to “go out for a beer” with any particular politician. Obama always scored highly on the “Yes, I would” list. Bill Clinton, too. Both of those presidents enjoyed their drinks; both possessed a life-affirming joyfulness that no doubt helped get them elected. Donald J. Trump doesn’t have a joyous molecule in his scowling, resentful body. We’re told, by someone who ought to know—Studio 54’s founder, Ian Schrager—that Trump was grim and dour, even in that hotbed of gaiety of the late 1970s and early 1980s. “I never saw Donald Trump dance…” Schrager recalled.
Another former Studio 54 owner, Mark Fleischman, similarly remembered how anti-social Trump. He “’wasn’t a lot of fun,” but he liked “looking at beautiful women.” Some things, apparently, never change.
Does Trump still like looking at beautiful women? Probably, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Does he go beyond just “looking”? All his adult life Trump has been a serial adulterer, cheating on whoever his wife happened to be, “grabbing pussies” and having his way with porn stars and models, most of whom, one presumes, allowed themselves to be ravished not because of any particular charm on his part (Trump may be many things, but “charming” he’s not) but because they liked his money. Until he was sworn in as president, he could have women for his sexual needs on demand.
Can he still, as president? There’s only one way he could: with the Secret Service’s connivance. The Service has a history of secretly sanctioning presidential immorality. Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for The New Yorker, detailed how “[John F.] Kennedy frequently used the Secret Service to help him smuggle women — it was often more than one — into the White House for daily trysts.” It is the formal responsibility of the Secret Service to “protect” the president, but nowhere is there a suggestion that this “protection” includes smuggling women into his bed. It may be that agents perceive this as part of their job, based on longstanding precedence. They may actually get a perverse thrill from it. Secret Service agents, after all, are mostly men, and they aren’t angels. When Obama was president, you may recall a scandal in which Secret Service agents accompanying Obama on an official visit to Columbia paid prostitutes for sex. Secret Service agents, in other words, sometimes do things they’re not supposed to. It’s not so hard to imagine them smuggling a porn star into the White House residence through the back door, perhaps on a night when Melania Trump is in, let’s say, Africa.
I don’t mean to begrudge Trump if he’s getting a little nookie on the side. That’s something for him, and Melania, to deal with. But, of course, the problem with “family values” Republicans like Trump—and the more conservative they are, the more they blather about “family values”—is the utter hypocrisy. (For the unwittingly funniest speech of his career, see this ridiculousness he delivered to the amusingly-named Family Research Council).
These rightwing, teetotaling “Christians” are so straight-laced and moralistic that you just know that they’re hiding dirty little secrets. Democrats, at least, don’t run around preaching pious aphorisms. But then, most Democrats enjoy a drink. I’d much rather hang out with drinking Democrats than with any Republican, especially one who can’t enjoy a nice cold brewski.
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