Here's the great political answer of our time
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–After the tumultuous year of 2003 which included such dynamite stories as Amendment No. 1, Roy Moore and the Ten Commandments, Mike Price and Tommy Tuberville, please permit me to close out my year of column writing on a light note.
I think the story I am about to tell you is appropriate for the season and the New Year's Eve celebrations that go with it. It has to do with booze, and like it or not, there is a definite link between this holiday and a drink or two. Rightly or wrongly, they go together.
Which leads to my story. There was a time in the distant past…even further back than I go…when the consumption of strong drink was the dominant political issue in this state. Political careers were built or came crashing down on the issue of prohibition.
Politicians would die before they took a stand on the question, knowing that no matter their position, it would anger a large bloc of voters.
In the 1918 Democratic Primary for governor one of the candidates was William W. (Plain Bill) Brandon of Tuscaloosa. For the record, he lost to Thomas E. Kilby in the election but four years later was elected governor.
No matter, late in that '18 campaign Brandon found himself in what appeared to be a politically untenable position–he was called on to make public his stand on prohibition. He appeared no have no avenue of escape…he had to put up or shut up. His response remains one of the classics in Alabama politics.
Here is the stand Brandon took on the issue:
"My position on whiskey? I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. I'll take my stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it may be.
"You have asked me how I stand on whiskey. Well, brother, here's how I stand.
"If, when you say whiskey, you mean the devil's brew, the poison source, the bloody monster that defiles innocence and dethrones reason and creates misery, and yes, literally takes bread out of the mouths of babes…
"If you mean the evil drink that topples God-fearing man and woman from the pinnacles of rapturous and gracious living into the bottomless pit of despair and degradation and shame and helplessness, I am against it with all that is within my power…
"If, when you say whiskey, you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine and ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in the hearts and laughter on the lips, and a glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer, if you mean stimulating drink that enables a man to magnify his glory and happiness and forget, if only for a moment, life's great tragedies and heartaches and sorrows…if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasury untold millions of dollars that are used to provide tender loving care for our crippled children and our deaf and our dumb and our pitifully aged and infirm, which builds highways and hospitals and schools, then brother, I am for that.
"That is my stand…I shall not recede..I will not compromise."
Happy New Year!