Being the President of The United States means lots of dinner parties and events. Well, before the coronavirus pandemic anyway. But as the world opens back up for business, social gatherings at The White House will be back again too. And one thing you won't see in the hand of our current president is an alcoholic drink. President Joe Biden doesn't drink alcohol.
Throughout his 35+ year-old senate career and eight years as vice president under former president Barack Obama, Joe Biden has not had a drink. Joe Biden Jr. credits his father, Joe Biden Sr., with his determination and drive, both personally and professionally.
While campaigning with Obama in 2008, Mr. Biden was quoted as saying, "There are enough alcoholics in my family." Biden's mother's side, the Finnegans, had "...more than their fair share of alcoholics," according to Tom Bell, a Scranton childhood friend of President Biden.
Joe Biden's alcohol choices stem from his belief in the genetic factor of addiction and alcoholism. It does seem pretty clear that it runs in families as demonstrated by Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden. His crack cocaine addiction is as well known as his involvement with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Ukraine aside, more evidence on the genetic connection is Biden's brother, Frank, who is a recovering alcoholic as well as their Uncle Edward who was known as a heavy drinker.
There's a lot of personal tragedy in Joe Biden's life. In 1972, Joe Jr.'s wife and daughter were killed in a car accident. His two sons, Beau and Hunter, were critically injured. Hunter Biden suffered a serious head injury. Hunter and his brother Beau were very close, and more tragedy came to the Biden family in 2015 when Beau died from brain cancer. President Biden's son Hunter has been in rehab five times, his condition perhaps exacerbated by his difficult life.
On a lighter note, could you imagine if alcohol had come into play in the last presidential election? Former President Donald Trump is a teetotaler (one who abstains from alcohol) just like Mr. Biden. The White House and Washington DC are wild enough with adding alcohol into the mix. Many feel the lack of social drinking adds to the vicious fighting between the Democratic and Republican parties on Capitol Hill since there's no bonding time outside of work. One of the beautiful things about alcohol is that it sometimes brings people together.
Americans like to drink, including those in Washington government. But with a cell phone ready to film and record your every move, those in the public eye have toned it down a lot. Members of Congress and the Senate usually head home on weekends, just like Joe Biden as he famously took the train to Delaware nightly. Some politicians even head back as far as Los Angeles, California, as is the case with Biden's Vice President Kamala Harris. Sounds like a long journey on the weekend, but we don't have access to private planes, so it's a little different.
Trump chooses Diet Cokes over tumblers of scotch, mainly because of his brother Fred's alcoholism. Fred eventually died from alcoholism. Trump also stayed away from alcohol as part of his path to success in business and eventually the presidency.
"I'm not a drinker. I can honestly say I never had a beer in my life. It's one of my only good traits," he told CNN's Kaitlan Collins. "I never had a glass of alcohol. I never had alcohol, for whatever reason," he added. "Can you imagine if I had? What a mess I would be. I would be the world's worst. I never drank, OK?"
Presidential drinking habits is an interesting topic. In addition to Biden and Trump, Rutherford B. Hayes, William Harrison, and George W. Bush didn't drink. GW was forthcoming with quitting drinking on his 40th birthday because he recognized a problem. Jimmy Carter also had no alcohol in the White House.
Trump's former Vice President Mike Pence also didn't drink alcohol. Our current Vice President Kamala Harris does enjoy a drink sometimes. The New York Times, CBS, and other news outlets might appreciate politicians imbibing a little more for the sake of their content, but the role of alcohol in DC politics seems to have died down with the most current administrations. Joe Biden's alcohol use seems unlikely to change any time soon. Unfortunately it feels like the American people need a drink now more than ever.