The Drink That Took The Man

In Japan, they have a saying: first the man takes a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes the man. Or, at least in the case of former Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa, the drink take's the man's job. 

Nakagawa pulled a Boris Yeltsin at last weekend's G7 summit; press videos show him rambling, slurring, and imploring with his eyes that a recess be taken so that he might rush to the men's room. Nakagawa quickly resigned, claiming he had been partying on cough syrup and jetlag.


Nakagawa had been in the political drunk tank before. (The last time this happened it was getting three sheets to the wind on "back medicine.") But this performance came at a time of widespread unpopularity for PM Taro Aso and his cabinet. It's certainly not the first time a politician has been blasted for being blasted, with the 2006 resignation of British MP and opposition party leader Charles Kennedy as the most recent high-profile example.

Meanwhile, Obama's reinstitution of a presumably moderate drinking culture in the White House has raised renewed interest in presidents and their libations. After leaving office, Franklin Pierce is supposed to have sighed, "There's nothing left to do but get drunk," and boy did he. But here's the question no one seems to be asking: is it disgraceful that Shoichi Nakagawa managed the world's second-largest economy while tanked out of his mind...or impressive?

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