There’s an argument raging in the US at the moment over whether Brett Kavanaugh lied in front of the Senate Committee when he said he’d never “blacked out” from drinking. While Kavanaugh openly admitted to drinking lots of beer, he maintained he’d never blacked out in the sense he can’t remember a thing about what he might have done. The media, egged on by Democrats, are wheeling out articles saying this can’t be true, and that heavy drinking inevitably results in blackouts even if you’re unaware you had one.
It’s best to assume the Democrat-media alliance is just saying whatever suits its cause at this point, but reading some of the commentary it sounds like teenage boys discussing sex, i.e. they don’t really know what they’re on about. Anyone who’s been around drinkers, of has drunk heavily themselves, know it affects people differently, and different drinks affect the same person differently. I have an Irish mate who would start fighting if he drank brandy; Bundaberg rum seems to have a similar effect on many Queenslanders. Some people get very aggressive and nasty when drunk, others soppy and affectionate. Some go quiet, others can’t shut up. I know a French lady who, when she’s had a few too many, insists on speaking English, a language she doesn’t know.
Now I reckon I’ve drunk as much if not more than Brett Kavanaugh, thanks to my hanging out with Russians and living on Sakhalin Island for four years. True, he’s probably drunk a lot more beer than I have but I’ve been on vodka and whisky binges at various parties which I’m surprised I survived. When I drink to excess I start to babble nonsense, not that anyone who knows me will notice the difference. But at some point my stomach really, really starts to hurt and I need to throw up, which I often do by sticking my fingers down my throat. Then the pain subsides and, if it’s a really big night, I keep drinking. I recall one night in a club in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk when a Russian I didn’t like challenged me to a drinking competition, glass for glass, and he was buying. I’m not sure who won, but I stayed in the game by running to the toilet and puking up after each glass. Yeah, I wasn’t at my most classy back then.
The point is, despite how much I’ve drunk, I’ve never blacked out or lost my memory. Eventually my stomach can’t handle any more drink and I have to stop, but I can always walk (if a little unsteadily) and find my way home, and although my memory is a bit fuzzy over who said what I always remember the basics. There is no chance I could drink so much I’d not remember sexually assaulting someone, and if I drank to my capacity I’d not even be able to mount such an assault. It’s therefore a complete falsehood to say Brett Kavanaugh’s heavy beer-drinking in college would lead to blackouts. Sure he might pass out once he’s in bed, but that’s not the same thing. Nobody assaults anyone while passed out. And while some people might experience blackouts, not everyone does.
Other than the obvious politically-driven malicious smear, what this reveals is America’s puritanical attitude to alcohol consumption. The drinking age in the US is 21, an age at which most are finishing college. Some American college campuses are situated in dry counties, meaning the students have to sneak booze into their dorm rooms as if they’re 15 years old and living in a boarding school. By contrast, British students are expected to get smashed at university, and if excessive drinking in college was a barrier to holding high office in your fifties then candidates would be thin on the ground. Actually, we’d probably be left only with Theresa May who I reckon would have made far better politician had she spent her student days getting wrecked down at the Union bar. Now Barack Obama is known to have smoked weed and snorted cocaine in college, and nobody said anything. This is mostly explained by the fact that the media would have glossed over Saint Obama sacrificing small children in his dorm room, but it’s also indicative that in America the chattering classes consider taking drugs less sinful than drinking. Weed is slowly being legalised across the US, and discussions on legalising drugs are a permanent feature among Americans who lean towards libertarianism. But when was the last time someone proposed lowering the drinking age? In fact, New York raised the drinking age from 19 to 21 in 1985.
What the Kavanaugh debacle also reveals is America’s rather puritanical attitude towards sex. There’s something about sex which a lot of Americans find rather icky; the flip side of this is the degenerates who go on and on about sex and flaunt their sexual practices openly with the intention of shocking everyone else. Both would seem rather odd to a Frenchman or Italian, and even the more reserved Brits find Americans’ obsession with the sexual proclivities of their leaders a bit strange. It’s hard to imagine the Monica Lewinsky scandal happening in Europe, at least not to the point where the entire country is clutching its collective pearls over a blow-job. That’s not to excuse Clinton’s behaviour towards an intern, but it’s significant that it was allegations of sexual misconduct which landed him in trouble.
It’s unlikely that a senior figure in European politics would find himself clobbered by accusations that he drank too much in college and made a clumsy attempt to get a girl’s clothes off in high-school. But in the US, the combination of alcohol and sex resonates in a way which turns the middle classes into puritans, who then pass moral judgement. This is why the attacks on Kavanaugh have been so effective.