First, politically, this was simply boneheaded. The Cambridge police department naturally took offense. They are vocal in their disgust.
Many police officers across the country have a message for President Barack Obama Get all the facts before criticizing one of our own. Obama's public criticism that Cambridge officers "acted stupidly" when they arrested black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. could make it harder for police to work with people of color, some officers said Thursday.
It could even set back the progress in race relations that helped Obama become the nation's first African-American president, they said.
So, now what for the president. First, he's thrown off message. He no longer is talking about health care but instead trying to explain himself about a matter that has no political relevance. Second, he now is on the opposite end of law enforcement. Is that a place he wants to be in?
This is a pretty obvious point. If your first statement is "I don't know all the facts", you had better not offer an opinion. That's because once more facts come out they could easily contradict your conclusion. We still don't know all the facts and so all of us should be careful in weighing in with an opinion. Characterizing someone as "acting stupidly" as the president did demeans the individual and makes a pretty strong judgment of another individual. When you do that without all the facts, that is terribly unfair, especially from the bully pulpit of the presidency.
I think its safe to say that its unfortunate that the professor was arrested. The whole incident is unfortunate but we should all be careful in assigning blame without all the facts. By weighing in so one sided, the president has elevated this story. He has inserted himself, and in no way does that help the situation or his own political standing.