Jewish World Review Oct. 2, 2013/ 28 Tishrei, 5774
The irony of Michelle Obama's water campaign
By Jonah Goldberg
Team Michelle won't admit this is the real agenda, insisting this is just a healthy, helpful reminder from the first lady. "Water is so basic," she explained from
Except that's not really true. According to Beverage Tracker (you don't subscribe?), in 1998, soda was our No. 1 drink of choice, with Americans consuming 54 gallons of the stuff every year. Today, it's down to 44 gallons, while water consumption has hit 58 gallons and rising.
Although on one level it may seem as if Obama is breaking the corporate grip on our drinking habits by celebrating the original no-frills beverage, it's more like she's pulling a
We tend to talk about culture as if it's something produced solely by obvious outlets like
We crossed a milestone in 2006 when, according to the U.S. Census, Americans started drinking more bottled water than beer.
Bottled water is the beverage for an atomized generation that listens to music in a private headphone world. Beer is social. "Most people drink beer to lower social inhibitions," McWilliams notes, "to make it easier to have conversations with other people, to assuage loneliness, to grease the wheels for engaging in what my students euphemistically call 'relationships' -- in other words, to give a form and excuse for social life. You don't drink beer to improve your private, individual health."
This last point is one I can confirm after years of empirical testing.
Indeed, while every brand of bottled water has its own unique sales pitch, they all share one appeal: It's not common water.
Which raises one irony. Lots of socially engaged young people have started to rebel against bottled water on the grounds that all of that plastic is allegedly wasteful and deleterious to the environment. Some will even note that bottled water is an indictment of the public water system, the same way
That doesn't make Obama's efforts misguided, but it's worth pointing out that even -- or perhaps especially -- liberals have a noblesse oblige all their own.
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