Don’t Drink and Negotiate

by Erik Voeten on March 5, 2013 · 6 comments

in Comparative Politics,International Relations

The U.S. ambassador for management and reform at the UN politely asked his colleagues to stop showing up drunk:

As for the conduct of negotiations, Mr. Chairman, we make the modest proposal that the negotiating rooms should in future be an inebriation-free zone.  While my government is truly grateful for the strategic opportunities presented by some recent past practices, let’s save the champagne for toasting the successful end of the session, and do some credit to the Fifth Committee’s reputation in the process.

I would love to hear more about those past “strategic opportunities” that the U.S. now selflessly wishes to put in the dustbin of history. The UN is of course not the only political setting with a drinking problem. British MP regularly vote drunk leading to a new alcohol policy to curtail MP drinking. The Irish can’t stay behind and I am sure there are stories from most countries (including the U.S.).  Ben Wright, a BBC correspondent who is writing a book on booze and politics said that one of Westminster’s pubs had:

a little arrow nailed to the wall two inches off the floor – directions for MPs who were crawling out on their hands and knees.

Yet, Wright also points out that times have changed:

There was a time when a drunk MP would not have been newsworthy, when the masonic understanding between political journalists and their parliamentary contacts could have kept it quiet. Not today.

{ 6 comments }

MikeM March 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Some forgettable congressman recently proposed that anyone accepting welfare payments be subject to drug testing. Since he and his colleagues are also attached to the public teat, perhaps we should extend this benefit to our representatives.

Andrew Gelman March 5, 2013 at 11:33 pm

After this story (“The man, Julio Acevedo, 44, was believed to be behind the wheel of a borrowed 2010 BMW when it slammed into the driver’s side of a livery cab carrying the couple, Raizy and Nathan Glauber, early on Sunday. The driver left the scene of the accident. Mr. Acevedo served time for a 1987 killing and was awaiting legal proceedings on a drunken-driving charge”), I’d just as soon retire the “don’t drink and ___” jokes. Although in that case, the problem certainly was the driving, not the drinking.

curious March 6, 2013 at 11:21 am

Is there a correlation between deal-making/coalition building and alcohol consumption in the US Congress?

RobC March 6, 2013 at 3:32 pm

If only. We’d have a lot more coalitions.

Truth > Spin March 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm

It’s generally during the late night vote-o-ramas that you’ll find impaired Congressman. And not just one or two. Visit any of the near by restaurants / bars during these sessions and you’ll find bunches of them hanging out and drinking. From Tortilla Coast, the Capital Hill Club and others within eye sight of the dome to Bobby Vans and the many places in NW or on Barracks Row, you’ll find them waiting the call of the stacked votes. Some still drink in their cloakrooms, but not as much as before.

Christian G. March 6, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Speaker John Boehner sipped glasses of merlot while President Obama drank a non-alcoholic beverage during their mostly secret fiscal cliff negotiations that eventually fell apart.

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