Would you rather have had a beer with Ronald Reagan or Jimmy Carter? With Reagan you’d have had some laughs, some good conversation and more than a few good jokes. With Carter, you’d more likely be lectured on why the Europeans are better suited to brewing beer.
As Republicans and Democrats look ahead to choosing Presidential candidates for the 2008 race, they would do well to remember “Pat’s Unified Beer” theory (PUB). Looking back over the past 25 years, the person elected President was the candidate with whom most Americans would rather have a beer. But PUB is not about drinking; it’s about attitude. Which candidate would really engage you in a conversation? Who could sit down in your kitchen and really talk with you without the aid of speechwriters and advisors?
1984: Reagan vs. Walter Mondale. Again, using the PUB theory, it’s no contest. After about ten minutes of listening to Mondale whining about something, you would have pretended you’d run out of beer.
1988: the PUB theory is put to a real test. Frankly, I’m not sure either George H.W. Bush or Michael Dukakis fit the bill. This may have been a case of choosing between the lesser of two pilsners. Still, I’d argue Mr. Bush got the edge because he could at least tell a few Reagan stories. And there’s always the chance, after a couple of cold ones, Dukakis might have gotten silly and put on a helmet. Who needs that embarrassment?
1992: Bush vs. Clinton vs. Perot makes for some interesting choices. Using the PUB theory, it’s not surprising Clinton beat Bush. I think Perot was hurt because he always appeared to have had a few beers even before he’d had a few beers.
1996 is a PUB runaway with Clinton against Dole. With all due respect to the Senator, who wouldn’t want to share a drink with a sitting President who had so many juicy stories to tell? “Here, Mr. President, have another. Now what kind of a girl was …”
The results of the 2000 election might have been razor thin, but the PUB results were much more decisive. A beer with Al Gore or George Bush? Does anyone really want to hear about the environmental impact of large breweries?
Last year’s election? Imagine sitting in your kitchen having a beer with John Kerry. Imagine having to explain to him what a kitchen is.
So what does PUB suggest for 2008? That’s a tough one. There are no clear-cut front-runners for the Republicans. The only name I’ve heard floated that makes PUB sense is Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. I’d love to have a beer with Haley. Heck, I’ve had a beer with Haley!
The Democrats seem bound and determined to nominate Senator Hillary Clinton. If there is any merit to the PUB theory, that would be a fatal mistake. A beer with Hillary? That might put a lot of people on the wagon.