People in Boston have already moved on. The latest drama screaming across the front page of the Boston Globe is the “shocking, shocking” news that another baseball slugger, David Ortiz of the Red Sox, was on steroids the whole time. Already relegated to below-the-fold status, the racial drama Harvard Prof v. Boston Cop took on the flavor of a soap opera with President Obama hosting the protagonists for a gauzy afternoon of beers and banter in the Rose Garden. I found myself wondering how this privileged display went down with the anonymous young men of certain parts of our city who know that they can be arrested just about any time for looking suspicious, guys who are unlikely to get past 15th Street let alone into the Rose Garden anytime soon. Don’t mean to be cynical, but just wondering about the beery gloss over the tragic American scandal of racial conflict. (Meanwhile, back in Boston, another police officer who wrote an email to a whole lot of people, including the Boston Globe, calling Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. a “jungle monkey” claims he is not a racist. He’s already been on Larry King and has lawyers defending his freedom of speech. How much beer will it take to wash away this scandal? You can’t make this stuff up.)
There’s a lot in the news right now that may make people want to drink: billions in bonuses to banks that took bailout money; cash for clunkers crashing; drugs and the King of Pop; and that nasty truth about Americans still dying by the dozens in Afghanistan. If we had a beer for every bad news day, we’d be drunk all the time.
Late July is a notoriously “slow news” time, meaning that while the news is still bad, people don’t want to deal with the hard realities. So we focus on the entertaining parts, avoiding those news items like Health Care Reform that are too much work to understand when it’s 90 degrees outside. The beach beckons. Beers are frosty cold, and guys are thirsty. September will come soon enough, and the war, the economy, health care and racism will all still be there. Hopefully, we’ll sober up enough by then to deal with our national challenges more effectively than we have done this summer.