The Importance of Being Bourbon


The currency of my American electoral knowledge would fail to buy a single shot of bottom-shelf sour mash whiskey. I know very little about the presidential race and I generally find it soothing to view and visit America through the filter of its hardest national liquor. Really, it’s a fusion of ignorance with inebriation that fuels my current North-Eastern US tour.

I’m here for the Arts and the whiskey, you understand, so I wasn’t going to attempt any political assay at all. Until I found that stump dumb and drunk were, in fact, ideal conditions for comment on these matters.

You see, bourbon and stupidity have just made inroads to Madama Clinton’s campaign.

As you’ve no doubt read, Hillary’s Presidential hopes have been heading steadily downhill of late. I believe one can trace the dawdling decline of her dreams by means of her pantsuit, actually.

At the bars I frequent, she’s been on the telly every day that the Mets aren’t playing the Yankees. In these moments, I’ve been making bibulous notes about her studiously informal clothes. I swear the beige atrocities are much more rumpled now than they were at the start of last week. Then again, it could just be the bourbon.

I thought it MUST have been the bourbon when I saw Hillary standing in front of an array of Maker’s Mark barrels. I asked the Lower East Side’s femme fatale of hospitality, Jukebox Jodi, how many drinks she had poured into me. "Is that woman really holding a bottle of bourbon, or am I projecting?" I demanded to know. Jukebox confirmed what I was seeing. Hillary was campaigning for today’s Kentucky primary by dipping a bottle of the famous whisky into its distinctive red seal.

Rodham Clinton is making much of her "blue collar" appeal. After a victory in West Virginia (the sort of State, I am informed by a fellow drinker, where white people have sex with their cousins and refuse to eat food that does not involve mayonnaise) Hillary has been playing up her woman-of-the-people lure. In the short term, this is working formidably. It’s likely she’ll win Kentucky. In any State that is substantially peopled by the white working class, she’s not so much a huge hit as the only option.

A Pennsylvanian friend recounts a conversation he had prior to Clinton’s primary victory in his State. A colleague allowed that her mother, a registered Democrat, voted for Clinton – not because she regarded Hillary as a potentially adequate president but because, "she was genuinely afraid that if Obama got elected, there would be an uprising of black people in America."

The quality of Kentucky whiskey might vary wildly. Votes don’t. Clinton continues to play to her reluctant mayonnaise constituency who are, as my Pennsylvanian mate says, "Just plain frightened of the black Man."

As any engaged city liberal will tell you, this is a blank and frustrating campaign. Hillary, now emerging as faux down-home dame, appears propelled only by the desire to win, not to restore to her country those values and privileges now eclipsed by corporate chaos.

I’ll be watching the Kentucky primary in a bar. If you choose not to wait for my next dispatch, come look for me. I’ll be the one not wearing a pantsuit.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.