Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 15, 2005
POLITICS: Don't Drink The Water

Responding to Hugh Hewitt's taunts about "Evian Flu" among conservative pundits, Ramesh Ponnuru writes:

[M]y impression is that the proportion of our population that consumes either wine or brie, or both together, has gone up since [1997] . . . Hasn't the insult lost its bite? I thought of this when I read a crack against elites that mentioned bottled water. It sure seems as though drinking bottled water has ceased to be an elite activity. Back in 1997, conservatives could mock latte towns--but you can find latte in any town you're in nowadays. Conclusion: We need some new put-downs. (Confession: I like brie and wine, have occasionally had a latte, and buy bottled water for my family--but that last point reflects the high lead content in D.C. water rather than a preference on my part.)

At least as to the bottled water thing, Ramesh is right on. Most of us have an instinctive belief that paying good money for water in a bottle is ridiculous. And yet, if you live in a city like New York or Washington (or Worcester, Mass., where I went to college and where the tap water was brown), where drinking the tap water is not a sane option, bottled water has become a necessity - and all the moreso after September 11 and especially after Katrina, when bottled water has become an emblem of disaster preparedness.

(As for wine, I believe recent surveys have shown that Americans as a whole now drink more wine than beer.)

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:00 PM | Politics 2005 | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

What's wrong with New York City tap water? It's just as good as expensive bottled water as tested on 20/20 several years ago. For disaster preparedness, take an empty water bottle and fill it with tap water. Otherwise drink Coke.

Posted by: Fred at October 15, 2005 2:55 PM

Crank, every study I've ever seen shows that tap water is actually cleaner than bottled. In fact, if I recall correctly, Penn & Teller devoted an episode of their show "Bullshit" to destroying the myth of bottle superiority.

Posted by: Allah at October 15, 2005 2:58 PM

The perception of bottled water soon will have taken a 180 degree turn, and people will start to frown upon it as non-PC. I've read several articles decrying the 'commodization' of water, and Starbucks, you may notice, only sells it relucantly. The brand they carry educates customers on the scarcity of water around the world and the need for a societal approach.

I don't disagree with these folks, nor do I fully grasp the issue, but I just thought it an interesting trend regarding the perception of elite items.

Posted by: patrick at October 15, 2005 3:30 PM

The taunt of white wine drinkers as elitist turning to Evian drinkers as elitist surely needs to be replaced. I always found it odd that conservatives broke out the mantra of wine drinkers as elitist when quite a lot of them in my experience are drinkers and collectors. Volvos, sandals, rock music have all been turned main stream to the point of being beyond tagging a stereotype to. I think finding a out-down is going to be difficult. How about non-crony appointing?

Posted by: jim at October 15, 2005 3:43 PM

I'll take it a step farther, Jim. I find conservatives crying "elitist" odd from the start. Most that I've met are highly educated, well-above the mean in terms of income & assets, quite snobbish in their views as to what properly constitutes "acceptable" culture, and very quick to defend The Canon -- whether in literature, music, art or philosophy.

That being said, I gladly admit to being a Canon-defending elitist. I reject relativism in art & culture as well as in ethics & morality. Unlike them, however, not only don't I shy from the elitism label, I won't cop to the "right wing" part either.

Posted by: Mike at October 15, 2005 8:08 PM

Worcester? WPI grad here. You?

As for "elites", I'd venture that most - if not all - of those blogging and commenting on blogs are truly our culture's "elites" - in terms of income, influence, education, and access.

Posted by: Jack at October 15, 2005 9:15 PM

Jack said: "As for "elites", I'd venture that most - if not all - of those blogging and commenting on blogs are truly our culture's "elites" - in terms of income, influence, education, and access."

Might just be the blogs you read or how you define elitists. Mark me down as a non-elitist and definitely a beer rather than wine guy. However, Hugh and others are wrong to use that charge as a tactic in an argument. Applying a label to someone you disagree with shows a paucity of facts to argue instead.

Posted by: LargeBill at October 16, 2005 10:13 AM

Crank:

(As for wine, I believe recent surveys have shown that Americans as a whole now drink more wine than beer.)

Say it ain't so! Oh, it ain't so, according to today's Hartford Courant:
From 1998 through last year, beer's share of all alcohol servings slipped from 59.6 percent to 58.1 percent, according to Adams Beverage Group, a market research company based in Palm Springs, Calif. By contrast, consumption of spirits and wine has been inching up for several years, reaching 28.5 percent and 13.4 percent respectively last year.

Posted by: huski at October 16, 2005 12:27 PM

I think it may have been $ spent as opposed to percentage of consumers.

Posted by: jim at October 16, 2005 4:33 PM

At least as to the bottled water thing, Ramesh is right on.

"Oh come on. Lots of people drink Perrier. It's come a long way."

"This is Ohio. If you don't have a brewski in your hand you might as well be wearing a dress."

Posted by: David Nieporent at October 23, 2005 4:33 AM
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