Cockburn has always been suspicious of politicians who don’t drink. The track record there isn’t very good: Hitler, Biden, Trump, Che Guevara, the grand old Duke of York Prince Andrew. Contrast that to history’s legions of statesmanlike squifflers, from Winston Churchill to George Washington to Vaclav Havel.
Hence why Cockburn is struggling to understand why Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel is under fire for getting a bit tibbly.
Nessel, a Democrat, apologized on her Facebook page Wednesday for having had too much to drink at a tailgate party before a college football game. She admitted that she’d been imbibing on an empty stomach, and said she’d later felt sick and had to leave the stadium so as to, as she put it, “prevent me from vomiting on any of my constituents.”
Cockburn notes that this has to be the first time in history that a politician has put such a hypothetical into writing. Yet if George H.W. Bush can yak into the Japanese prime minister’s lap, then surely Nessel doesn’t have too much to worry about here.
If Nessel is guilty of anything, it’s her curious understanding of how alcohol works. According to Michigan’s top cop, she chose to “eat” — not “drink” — two Bloody Marys before the game, since “as long as you put enough vegetables in them, it’s practically a salad.” Thankfully some good Samaritans were on hand to correct this mistaken feint at vegetarian healthfulness. They poured Nessel into a wheelchair and helped her get home, where her wife gave her Tylenol and water.
“I am human,” Nessel wrote. “Sometimes I screw up.” Yet if this is Nessel’s idea of a screw-up, then Cockburn thinks she shouldn’t be so hard on herself. Here’s a bit of news script Cockburn has yet to ever read: “We interrupt this footage of helicopters over Kabul to bring you this shocking bulletin. A Michigander has gotten drunk at a football game.”
In fact, Michigan seems like the place to be if you’re looking for a little transgressive fun. Not only is the AG helping herself to the hot sauce, the Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, recently defied her own COVID regulations to hang out at a bar. And her husband was nabbed last May coaxing a marina to ignore the rules and put out his boat on the water for a little Memorial Day bash.
Against all that, Nessel seems like the puritan of the bunch. And perhaps, Cockburn reflects, the real problem here isn’t the boozing but the expectation of outrage that now accompanies our every slip-up. “My staff has pleaded with me to hire a crisis-management PR firm,” Nessel noted in her post. Even with a splitting headache, she still had more sense than that.