News From the Front

Read this bio and see if you can guess who this man is: 

He confesses the best beer he ever had was a Busch. He stresses moderation and responsibility to the point that even MADD thinks he’s a swell guy. He drinks six to eight beers a week and refuses to let visitors post messages about being drunk on his website. He instructs his followers to drink less than the government’s suggested limit. He suggests beer drinkers are a step below average men. And finally, he admits he has never been drunk in his entire life, even while sampling 25-cent beers in Honduras. Nor does he ever wish to be drunk.

So he’s a spineless lightweight with bad taste in beer, you’re thinking. Maybe a low-level politician eager to appear one of the guys, but playing it very safe with the prohibition set. 

Well, he’s much more than that. His name is Dennis Buettner and he’s the founder, commissioner, and self-appointed captain of the U.S. Beer Drinking Team. Not the Dennis Buettner Drinking Team, not the Lower Buffalo Valley Beer Drinking Team, but the goddamn U.S. Beer Drinking Team.

Which is akin to a guy who occasionally enjoys a McRib Sandwich declaring in the national press that he is, in fact, the BBQ King of America. His outrageous presumptuousness aside, what disturbs me most about Mr. Buettner is in all his forty years he has never been drunk nor wants to be. What manner of professed beer lover could lack the desire, courage, or just plain human curiosity to drink those extra beers that convey you to a better, happier place? I’ll wager even Billy Graham and the president of MADD have gotten drunk at least once. 

What manner of self-respecting beer drinker would follow him? It’s akin to England, faced with the furious assault of the Nazi machine, being told it’s going to be led to victory by a restroom attendant who wholeheartedly confesses his military experience consists of watching his pet tabby tussle with a cat toy. Just when this country was starting to resurrect its collective drinking reputation, this punk comes along, declares himself our leader, then spends the next 24 hours struggling to knock back a single goddamn beer.

At best this man is merely a crass opportunist attempting to sell T-Shirts and merchandise to a large and disorganized group hungry for leadership. And with 20,000 members, his organization has probably sold more than a few. But there lies the riddle: He had to know his beer-a-day, never-been-drunk proclamation would set him up for ridicule among even moderate drinkers and only serve to damage his merchandise sales.

Which leads me to view Mr. Buettner in a much darker light. He is, consciously or otherwise, an active agent of the neo-prohibitionists. He is setting up a false standard. A man drinking the FDA-approved two beers a day can now be told: “Great God! Do you realize you’re drinking twice as much as the Captain of the freaking U.S. Beer Drinking Team? You’re obviously some kind of alcoholic monster!”

A weak enemy within is much more dangerous than a powerful enemy without. Which is why, when the battle comes down, I will fall in behind a besotted Churchill, and the Busch-sipping Mr. Buettner can go crash with his one-beer buzz.