It all started at the Tune Inn. The age-old dive on Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast has been the launching pad for countless forays into “innovative policy initiatives,” and this one was no exception. A few Capitol Hill staff alumni had gathered for an informal reunion in the back room, beyond the louts, the lobbyists, and the endless stream of boorish interns.
They were all Democrats.
“We gotta do something about the youth vote,” a former Wiener staffer whined. “They’re not excited about Obama any more, and Bruce Springsteen just ain’t cuttin’ it like he used to.”
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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“Well, I feel that Obama isn’t helping, frankly,” groused an ex-welfare-liaison-facilitator. “Maybe if he forgives student debts by November – at least for government workers, you know? – maybe he can turn it around. But those stingy Republi-cons won’t let that happen. The way things are going, next thing you know he’ll send his daughters to party–hearty in Argentina like Bush did.” Shaking her head, she ordered another beer. Doom descended on the table as a raucous bunch of interns looked into the room from the door. She cringed.
“No action in here,” one of them yelled, and off they went, on the prowl, back to the pack.
“Look at them,” said the scruffy lawyer, drawing pictures on the table with his beer mug. “they’re running the country, they’re all under twenty-five, and they’re clueless. If the voters only knew.”
“Yeah,” chimed in the Wiener grad. “Talk about the density of the masses.”
The lawyer’s furrowed brow furrowed further. “You know what,” he said. “I bet they’re all for Ron Paul. Four years ago they were all hot for Obama and “Change” – now our guys at the DNC tell us that Paul has the under-thirties! We gotta find a way to get’em back. We just gotta!”
Glum grimaces worked their way around the table. The bill came.
“Good grief,” said the Wienerite. “Eighty-two dollars and sixty-five cents. Seven bucks for a beer!”
“Well, we gotta lotta wars goin’ on,” chuckled the lawyer, digging for his wallet. “Whaddya want, free beer?”
The light bulb turned on.
“That’ it!” He threw some money on the table, reached for his Blackberry, and furiously punched the keys as he left. “See you, guys.” He headed out for his office at HHS – the Department of Harassment and Handout Services.
A week later, HHS Secretary Saccharine Cerebrius announced the “ObamaBeer Mandate.”
“Throughout the country, our administration has encouraged schoolchildren to feel good about themselves,” she told a packed auditorium at the annual convention of the National Beer Brewers Association. “But today, we find that many adults just don’t feel that good any more. Our studies indicate that, if such an anomaly persists over time, such Americans are more likely to underperform at work, to get sick, and, ultimately, to impose a significant burden on the taxpayer. So we have asked America’s best minds – you know, our most highly-compensated HHS grantees at major universities – to confront this problem, and they have responded with alacrity. I am pleased indeed to observe that their verdict was virtually unanimous. And based on their scientific investigations, and our own deliberations and consultation with the Congress, today I am truly proud to announce a program that will reinvigorate America. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we can alleviate the loss of zest, elàn, and confidence in our population today. The answer is simple: Free Beer.”
The crowd roared.
Within days, Alcoholics Anonymous announced its first known public opposition to a federal program in its history. “This policy requires all of our members to subsidize a behavior which we consider immoral,” their spokesman said. “We consider it to be a violation of our conscience rights, as well as those of millions of Americans. Moreover, we urge the administration to consider the deleterious impact that free beer will have on social cohesion, the family, and individual responsibility.”
He was immediately hooted and hectored. Pansy Nelosi, the swaggering alcoholic and beer advocate, made a beeline for the floor of the House. “This is a gross canard cut out of whole cloth,” she thundered. “Ninety-eight percent of alcoholics drink beer!”
Nelosi then called a meeting with other Democrats to hear the tearful story of Sucha Flake, a law student who moonlighted as a bartendress at a pickup bar on M street. Although Flake was thirty years old, she was still in school, and she spoke poignantly of the plight of her fellow student inebriates.
“I attend an Alcoholics Anonymous law school that does not provide beer coverage in its student health plan. Just as we students have faced financial, emotional, and medical burdens as a result, employees at sober hospitals and universities across the country have suffered similar burdens. We are all grateful for the new ObamaBeer regulation that will meet the critical health care needs of so many women and our partners. For me, this is deeply personal. I have one friend who can’t go to sleep at night without consuming a six-pack. Since a good night’s sleep is a prerequisite for getting to class on time in the morning, for getting good grades, and for getting that all-important government job after we graduate, I think it’s time that the Obama administration remove the stigma of furtive students paying big bucks for false ID’s, as well as the painful decision many of us students must face every night – forced to choose between having a decent meal or going out for a few beers.”
“When I look around my campus,” Flake continued between dainty dabs at her tearful cheeks with a tissue thoughtfully supplied by the taxpayer, “I see the faces of the women affected, and I have heard more and more of their stories. On a daily basis, I hear from yet another woman from AA Law or other schools or who works for a sober employer who has suffered financial, emotional, and medical burdens because of this lack of beer coverage. And so, I am here to share their voices and I thank you for allowing them to be heard, even though they could not appear today because they’re all drunk.”
“Without ObamaBeer,” she went on, “an active beer life can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary. Forty percent of female students at AA Law report struggling financially as a result of this policy. One woman told us of how embarrassed and powerless she felt when she was standing at the bar, learning for the first time that beer wasn’t free. The poor dear had to walk away sober because she couldn’t afford it.” After a pause to collect her emotions, Flake continued. “Women like her have no choice but to go without beer,” she fairly sobbed. “Just last week, a married female student told me she had to stop drinking beer because she couldn’t afford it any longer. Her partner, naturally, was outraged, and nearly assaulted her. ‘Bring me beer,’ he shouted, ‘or else!’”
“There are similar stories, dear Congresspeople, across the breadth and depth of this land, and in every corner of your congressional districts. Imagine! Women employed in low wage jobs without beer coverage face the same hard choice. Ladies and gentlemen, you have no idea how many millions of women have to go to bed stone cold sober every night because there is no ObamaBeer!”
The Democrats were unnaturally silent. Finally, Pansy Nelosi rose quietly, walked over to Flake, and gently bestowed a kiss upon her brow. “I promise you, Sucha, that I will not allow a bunch of cranky old white men who are on the wagon to force their ‘Twelve Steps’ on you and your fellow students,” she cooed. “There’s no way that we will allow Alcoholics Anonymous to cause a new era of Prohibition to cast its dark shadow upon our land.” A burst of applause swept through the room.
On his radio program the next day, talk-show host Rush Limbaugh attacked Flake. “She spends three thousand dollars a year on beer,” he roared. “What does that make her? It makes her a souse, right? It makes her a drunken sot.”
Outrage ensued. Within days, after Obama had called Flake personally and invited her to the Oval Office for a few beers, Limbaugh apologized.
The old gang met at the Tune Inn when it was all over, smiles and beers brimming all around. The crowd was raucous, every table was packed. There was no quiet corner to be found. The mood was festive.
“Great job, guys,” said the lawyer. “Great job.” Shy grins and raised glasses greeted his accolade.
The bill came – $187.65.
He flashed his ObamaCare card at the waiter, who scanned it and handed him a receipt. “Guys,” he said, his bright eyes sweeping the table, “Guys — next time we’re gonna do cocaine.”
“Hey, thanks for the tip,” said the waitress.