Submitted By Todd on July 23rd at 9:34pm
opportunity to lead.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today told members of the press corps that President Obama "was not calling the officer stupid" when he discussed the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. at Wednesday night's press conference.Go to Google News, search the word "stupid," and a series of stories on Barack Obama pop up. How delightful.
"Let me be clear," Gibbs said, according to a pool report. "He was not calling the officer stupid, okay? He was denoting that . . . at a certain point the situation got far out of hand, and I think all sides understand that."Following a prime time news conference Wednesday night, Thursday was to have been devoted to a realignment of the American political universe behind the Obama health care initiative. Things went according to plan until the choreographed Gates question was asked by old Chicago buddy Lynn Sweet. Then, the President stumbled.
President Obama on Wednesday injected himself into the national debate over how law enforcement treats minorities. Responding to a question during his news conference, Obama said that the Cambridge, Mass., Police Department had acted "stupidly" in arresting his friend, prominent African American scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.The White House apparently thought that jumping into the controversy involving professor Henry Louis Gates - think Al Sharpton with a tassel - and to have transitioned into a lofty, post-racial discussion on the history of driving while black would have filled the nation with the warm fuzzies anew over Obama. Writes Yuval Levin in the National Review:
It’s the kind of question to which a president would normally reply with something like: “that’s a local police matter, I don’t know the details and I know it will be worked out responsibly,” and move along. Obama gave a lengthy review of the facts, called the police officers involved stupid, and implied they are also liars. Very odd behavior for a president.The remarks failed to recreate the race speech of last summer, when candidate Obama used the larger history of race relations in America, and his unique ability to lead a discussion on the subject, to deflect attention away from the true issue - what did his 20 year relationship with race baiting Preacher Jeremiah Wright say about his attitudes and his judgement.
Instead of recreating those warm fuzzies, the President insulted police nationwide and showed himself to be a divider on race, not a uniter. A Jeremiah Wright, one might say. (What a coincidence.) So today, instead of the national conversation on health care shifting to Obama's storyline, newspapers and TV news focused on the race nerve.
Many police officers across the country have a message for President Barack Obama: Get all the facts before criticizing one of our own.The lead story on the Today Show was not about health insurance on Thursday morning, it was a debate between Michael Eric Dyson and Michael Smerconish regarding whether the President's remarks had been appropriate regarding Professor Gates.
"What we don't need is public safety officials across the country second-guessing themselves," said David Holway, president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, which represents 15,000 public safety officials around the country. "The president's alienated public safety officers across the country with his comments."As the Obama health care legislation bogs down in Congress, the cause may have been dealt a lethal blow by the President's mishandling of the Gates issue. If the incident serves to reveal to Americans the radicalism of Obama - that the President's ideology and Reverend Wright's aren't all that far apart - then his poll numbers, which are starting to fall, will do so with increasing velocity. Without popular support, rational Democratic members of Congress will not feel compelled to stay behind the health care plan.
But many in Massachusetts said he crossed a line by passing judgment on police while acknowledging he did not have all the facts. Online polls in Massachusetts show strong support for the white arresting officer. A police union and his department's chief also came out strongly in his defense.