Bender: The politics of beer

Tony Bender
Tony Bender

The campaign for 2020 is in its infancy, but I'm close to eliminating one candidate—Elizabeth Warren. Not because she's a Harvard professor or any of the inevitable pretense that comes with academia. It really comes down to inauthenticity.

Her painfully awkward live streaming on New Year's Eve was an attempt to ingratiate herself to “regular folk” by opening and sipping a longneck. She actually said, “I'm gonna get me a beer.” I think I'm gonna get me a barf bag. Donald Trump was more believable when he promised Mexico would pay for the wall.

Then, Warren's husband wanders onscreen and she seems surprised to see him—in his own kitchen. “Thank you for being here,” she says, which is the kind of thing estranged couples say at the pretrial conference.

Warren doesn't need to prove she's regular folk. There's no DNA test for that sort of thing, anyway. In fact, 100 percent of the regular folk I hang out with shouldn't be president. I'm not even sure I want to hang out with them. Besides, authenticity is so passe these days. We have a billionaire president with a record of stiffing contractors, who managed to convince blue collar workers he cares about them.

I'm fine having a nerd for president. Be who you are. Unless you're Ted Cruz, who we all know is the Zodiac Killer. The only reason he got off was on a technicality—he was only a year old at the time. Even if you can get past his youthful indiscretions, this man's sphincter is so tight, he could turn beautiful clean coal into diamonds. I would consider a beer with Ted Cruz to be a hostage situation.

I didn't find Hillary a convincing beer drinker, either, and had she been running against anyone who was not deranged, I might have voted against her. She visited a brewery in Wisconsin, well, because it was Wisconsin, but couldn't manage to get a beer from the tap without getting a glass full of foam. Say what you will about Brett Kavanaugh, at least the man knows how to tap a keg.

That got me thinking about what it might be like to have a beer with a few politicians—on a scale from 1 to 10. I'd start with George W. Bush. It would be O'Doul's and no pretzels. He's genuinely funny, and his failed presidency was wildly more successful than the current failed presidency—and we haven't even hit bottom, yet. Tired of failing, yet? I give Dubya an 8.

Every four years I secretly root for a Republican I could live with. In 2016, John Kasich was that guy. But we're already in Ted Cruz territory when it comes to likability. I might crawl out of the bathroom window after the first beer unless the house band was really good. He gets a 2.

Mitch McConnell: This is one of those droll sit-downs you'd go into with cyanide pills sewn into your jacket. Sweet death, please release me. -11.

I don't know how, in such a small state, I've managed not to have a beer with Heidi Heitkamp. It's like she's avoiding me. Probably has me confused with Rob Port. But I'm definitely in. When Heidi was running against John Hoeven for governor, I mounted a third party campaign with the slogan, “A Liver Sausage in Every Pot”. Heidi gave me $2 for my campaign. That's funny. When Hoeven heard about it, he gave me a buck. That's only half as funny. I give him a 3, a low score, yes, but who wants to drink with someone that fiscally responsible? Heidi gets a 10, and I'm buying.