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Friday, July 24, 2009

Some Thoughts on Professor Gates, Officer Crowley, and President Obama

By now, most of the country knows, generally, what happened. Professor Gates locked himself out of his house. He broke in. His neighbor saw this and thought it was suspicious. The police received a call about a suspected break in. The police showed up at Professor Gates' home. There was a confrontation, an argument, and then he (Gates) was arrested for disorderly conduct. Then, at his latest press conference, the president first said that he didn't have all the facts and still proceeded to say that the Cambridge police acted "stupidly".

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.


Ray Pelland said...

Good analysis. As someone who voted for Obama I agree with your views on this. Further, when I try to imagine myself in Obama's place this indicates to me that he must harbor some strong emotional beliefs regarding "the man" - perhaps beliefs that he holds because his constituency expects him to. But they were beliefs that he just could not contain at that moment. That's not a good thing to see in the POTUS. I saw few signs of a judicious, non-political mind when he was running and it took some heavy convincing by friends for me to vote for him. I won't make that mistake again.

Unknown said...

Remember, this was not an unexpected question that was served up to Obama. It, as any question, was pre-approved by the White House. Apparently, this was an issue the president wanted to talk about.


mike volpe said...

Sam, I don't know how you could know that. Are you in the White House? Do you know Lynn Sweet? How do you know the Prez. knew this question would be asked?

Anonymous said...

What is up with all these conservatives who were "tricked" into voting for Obama? If I had a nickel for every conservative who "didn't realize how insanely radical Obama was when I voted for him" I wouldn't have student loans anymore.

Ray Pelland said...

Anon, I don't know if you're talking about me but I'm a Dem / liberal. I well could have voted Repub last Nov but the Repubs have got come up with something better than McCain / Palin. I mean, that's the main reason I voted for Obama. Lack of alternatives.