tSW's wine column remained neutral through the primary season, but with Senator Barack Obama now the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee, and the rhetoric between the Obama and McCain camps heating up, the time has come to weigh in.
Naturally, we vote in our own self interest, and so it is fair to ask "What will an Obama presidency mean to me, as a wine drinker?" At first blush, this seems like a fairly straightforward question. The Republicans unveiled their disdain for the French position against the Iraq war by renaming freedom fries, and effectively defeated Democratic candidate John Kerry by suggesting he "looked French." Quel horror! One would presume, then, that French wines, and by association, the act of wine drinking, would be given short shrift in a Republican administration.
Recall then candidate Bush's reply to Barbara Walters probing questions on 20/20 during the 2000 election: "There's nothing better than a cold beer..." And then there was the 2007 G8 summit when he was caught "sipping" beer. And of course we can't ignore the fact that Senator McCain has married into a well-heeled Arizona beer distribution family. Pretty scary stuff. Obama, for his part, seems every bit the wine connoisseur. He maintains a 1000-bottle cellar at his home in Chicago, and some of his campaign events have reportedly sold bottles of zinfandel with the candidate's face on the label. Obama Zin. It has a ring to it.
The conservative Chicago Tribune trumpeted that Obama's line in Iowa, "Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and seen what they charge for arugula?" indicated that he was a "wine track" candidate out of touch with ordinary Americans. Not with this voter. In fact, I've recently seen tiny bunches of arugula going for $6 or more. And of course there is nothing like pairing a crisp French sauv blanc with an arugula salad. I can read between the lines and I'm sure that was on Obama's mind too.
So the choice is clear, then, right? Not so fast. As disgruntled Clinton supporters are fond of pointing out, we hardly know this Barack Obama. A quick Google search brought up an astute blogger's question, "will Barack Obama outlaw wine in a box?" Yikes, that would be a slippery slope. And just last week McCain let slip that he would "veto every single beer..." Perhaps a bit draconian but a policy worth discussing, don't you think? With conflicting signals from both sides, it is too early to come out with a clean endorsement. On the surface it appears that a vote for Obama is a vote for wine, but clearly both candidates have some more explaining to do. - Tom Rodhouse