I Learned It From You, Mr. President!


The American Beverage Institute (ABI) is highlighting what might otherwise have been an obscure comment by Nancy Raynor, president of the Delaware chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, about President Obama's "beer summit" with Henry Louis Gates and James Crowley. According to WDEL, a Wilmington radio station, Raynor "is concerned about what teens and children take away from seeing the president drinking on TV." In an interview with the station over the weekend, Raynor explained that "it's a well-known fact that young people tend to mimic the actions that they see of the adults." As the ABI says, the comment is notable not just because of the absurd implication that all activities deemed inappropriate for children to engage in should be hidden from their view (presumably including driving, using credit cards, and cooking with gas) but also because it reflects MADD's slide from opposing drunk driving to opposing drinking in general. That tendency, illustrated by its support for criminalizing ever-lower blood alcohol levels in drivers and its argument that questioning the current drinking age is irresponsibe, led the group's founder to denounce it as "very neo-prohibitionist." It's fitting, then, that Raynor's reaction to the "beer summit" makes MADD sound just like the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, whose president expressed disappointment with the president's drink choice—not because Bud Light is a crappy beer but because "there are so many other beverages he could have chosen that would have served just as well," such as lemonade or iced tea.