I don't know about you but I have March 17th and 18th fully planned out. On March 17th I'm doing my St. Patrick's Day ritual of getting into fights and puking up green beer. And on the 18th, I plan to spend the whole day in a deep depression regretting everything I've done the day before.
Overindulging in alcohol can lead to all sorts of trouble. And yet, there are some who have battled their demons with the bottle while rising to some of the highest levels of public service. So, I might actually still get a chance to be somebody before my liver falls out. After all, look at all that's been accomplished by these guys.
President Ulysses S. Grant
Some say that reports of President Grant's public drunkenness were vicious rumors started by his political enemies, but then again those people were probably never tasked with writing a piece about drunk U.S. Politicians. So shut up and let me do my job. And besides, no one can deny that there are some people who don't say that stories of Grant's public drunkeness were vicious rumors started by political enemies.
Indeed, some claim Grant left the army in 1854 rather then face court martial after his commanding officer, Robert C. Buchanan, found him drunk on duty as a pay officer. Another story claims that the term "lobbying" actually originated from the practice of political wheelers and dealers who frequented The Williard Hotel's lobby where Grant would often enjoy cigars and brandy.
And perhaps, the most damning evidence of Grant's drunkeness… his beard.
Sen. Joseph McCarthy
The Senator from Wisconsin who led the fight on Communism (thereby cultivating a culture of panic and needlessly destroying many innocent lives while desecrating the freedoms that make America great) was many things. But he was not a quitter.
He did not cease in his unsubstantiated accusations of Communist infiltration of the State department. He never tired in his vilifying of opponents as pinkos and Commies. And he would not quit drinking.
A full-blown alcoholic, he died from cirrhosis of the liver in 1957.
President Richard Nixon
They called Richard Nixon "Tricky Dick," but maybe they should have called him Drinky McDrinksalot. (Well, sure it doesn't have the same ring to it. And it doesn't really convey his penchant for dirty politics which was the point of the nickname. Also, his heavy drinking wasn't common knowledge so probably only those closest to him would have really been in a position to call him that and, frankly, I just can't picture Henry Kissinger saying that. But still, it seems Nixon did like to get his drink on, so, y'know, as far as nicknames go, I guess you could do worse.)
Previously released phone transcripts indicate that five days into the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, Nixon was too drunk to discuss the crisis with the British prime minister. Of course, in Nixon's defense, Dark Side of the Moon had just come out so there is every reason to believe that what his advisors mistook for drunkeness was really just our Commander in Chief being baked out of his mind.
Sen. John Tower
In the history of our Nation, only nine cabinet appointees have failed to be sworn in, but Senator John Tower — George H.W. Bush's choice for Secretary of Defense was one of them.
Why? Well, during his nomination hearings, conservative activist Paul Weyrick testified that Tower was "morally unfit" to serve as Pentagon Chief because of excessive drinking and womanizing. Weyrick even claimed to have witnessed this behavior on several occasions. As an aside, I'd like you to just think of times when you've been drunk and womanizing. Can you picture anyone ever observing you soberly and silent in a corner, taking notes for a future day? Boy those conservative activists are fun.
In any event, Tower publicly pledged to abstain from alcohol if he were confirmed as defense secretary. And yet, he was not. That's pretty damn drinky.
Sen. Bob Packwood
Sometimes people gladly confess to alcoholic indulgences rather than taking full responsibility for behavior society finds more offensive. For example, when Oregon Senator Bob Packwood was confronted with multiple claims of sexual harassment by several women, he claimed the indiscretions were the result of his drinking problem.
He subsequently underwent counseling while being reviewed by the Senate Ethics Committee. After a prolonged investigation in which more women came forward, Packwood eventually resigned in 1995.
So does he belong on this list? I mean, maybe he was just a sex addict. I don't know. Perhaps, history will never know, but if a man who inappropriately makes sexual advantages on multiple women wants to be called an alcoholic and I'm writing a column on political alcoholics then I'm not going to let things like details and the truth stand in the way.
Sen. Ted Kennedy
Oh, it's easy to make fun of Ted Kennedy.
Well, not really that easy considering how close to death he is, but still easy in the sense that most people believe his drunk driving led to the death of a woman.
Wait I guess that's not funny either. And in 1991 he was partying down in Palm Beach, Florida — festivities that led to the rape trial of his nephew, William Kennedy Smith.
Damn, that's not at all humorous. Maybe alcohol abuse and the things that come from it aren't actually that appropriate for a comedy web site?
Could that be?
You might be wondering why this article fails to mention Dick Cheney who had two DUIs or George Bush who had one. Well, maybe it's because that after eight years it's nice not to have to cover them. Congrats, boys. You didn't make the list. Enjoy your St. Patrick's Day. Drink up.
Tags: Edward Kennedy, Joseph McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Senate, Ulysses S. Grant