The Protojournalist
8:50 am
Thu August 8, 2013

A 6-Pack Of Beer Summits

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 10:13 am

Attempting to put the kibosh on their kerfuffle, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky made a peace offering this week to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The two Republicans have been fussing and fuming over governmental spying and spending.

"Anytime he would like to come down and sit at a pub right around the corner from the Senate — we'll have a beer," Paul told Neal Cavuto of Fox News.

Christie RSVP'd to Paul's invitation by telling Fox News: "I'm running for re-election in New Jersey. I don't really have time for that at the moment."

But the idea of the two feuding men hunkering down over a couple of brewskis to iron out their wrinkles and rankles is intriguing.

Because, well, beer. It can be a modern-day peace pipe.

"We talk about which politician you'd want to have a beer with," observes NPR colleague Alan Greenblatt, but many times "beer summits" are held "when pols have to talk to people they don't want to."

And so we offer a look back at a half-dozen suds-softened sitdowns through the years:

2013: Over a plate of sliders and a pitcher of light beer, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., discuss the difficult issue of tax reform, according to Politico.

2013: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Denis McDonough, President Obama's chief of staff, share some springtime suds at a Washington brasserie, Time reports.

2010: At a gathering of conservatives in Washington, Christopher Barron of GOProud (a gay Republican group) and Chris Plante of the National Organization for Marriage (a group that wants the government to define marriage as something between a man and a woman) speak to CNN of trying to find some common ground — over a brew or two. "I hope we'll have more time to talk over the next four days. Maybe we can have a beer later," Plante says. And Barron says: "We can have a beer summit later."

2009: President Obama invites Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr., a professor at Harvard University, and Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge, Mass., police department — who had arrested Gates for disorderly conduct — to the White House to share some beer and resolve their differences, NPR reports.

1990: Two national presidents — Richard von Weizsaecker of West Germany and Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia — meet over beers on the 51st anniversary of the Nazi occupation of Prague "to put an end to one painful chapter in the 1,000-year-old relationship between their two countries and to begin a new, more hopeful one.," the Los Angeles Times notes.

Circa 1980s: Gerald R. Ford, according to the Bergen, N.J., Record, once said that he and Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, "the leaders of two different political parties, could debate and argue on the floor of the House and then go out and have a beer together that same night."

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