Jimmy Carter was a teetotaler. So was William Howard Taft. So was George W. Bush, and so was Adolf Hitler.
On the other team, among the men who enjoyed a drink or three while they won wars and led powerful nations, was Winston Churchill, Ulysses S. Grant, Ronald Reagan, Boris Yeltsin, and both our glorious Roosevelts.
Correlation isn’t causation, and I suppose it isn’t fair to say that abstention from the spirits somehow damages a man’s worthiness. It’s tempting though. A spot or two of whiskey, or whatever lubricant, opens up other channels of viewpoint. In vino there is veritas, but there’s a whole lot else in there as well. It’s a scrying glass for decisions about human character and human destiny. And lest you think I’m ignoring the destruction alcohol can bring, I assure you that’s integral to this process. A thinking drinking man knows he’s threading the needle, flirting with a wrecker of health and mental hygiene. That figures centrally in his calculations, and that makes him a better thinker and safer drinker.
We pour a glass to toast, to fete, to roast, and almost always to seal the kind of deals that require no signatures or witnesses. Just as shattered bottles launch proud new ships, shared bottles can launch understanding, meetings-of-mind, and very often partnerships and prosperity.
I suppose it’s the height of political incorrectness to urge drink for anyone, let alone everyone. Certainly anyone who’s forsworn the stuff, for whatever reason, deserves all the respect anyone does for personal decisions. Indeed, if they’ve turned their back on the aqueous vitae for reasons of health, then you better believe I wish them all the best with that. I raise a glass and drink heartily to it.
And while I’d never say that such folk disqualify themselves from leadership, not only because doing so would soar to greater heights of incorrectness; I do, as I say, think there’s some sharp and probing leadership quality set free in the hooch-caressed mind.
Whether it’s correlation or causation, personality tell or just my own rule of thumb, I can’t ignore it. Incorrect or not, I’ll admit to a mighty sigh of relief every time we avoid elevating a non-drinking man.