At last night’s nationally televised press conference, a reporter, Lynn Sweet, asked President Obama a question about the July 16 arrest of famed Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates. Obama gave a perfectly reasonable answer, at first a little humorous as to what would have happened to him in a similar circumstance, and then indicating that the Cambridge Massachusetts police department "acted stupidly", followed by a serious discussion of the lingering problems in the US of oppressive profiling and treatment by police of Blacks and Hispanics.
Obama’s response, predictably, set the chattering press all a twitter and a tweeting. This brief interlude at the very end of the press conference didn’t get as much afterglow coverage as the healthcare issues that were the reason for the press conference in the first place, but it sure seemed like it came close on cable channels such as CNN and MSNBC.
First off, let me say I agree with Josh Marshall:
But let’s be honest: this is all about a black guy getting on the side of another black guy who got crosswise with the cops. Why would he touch such a powder keg? Like it’s going to ignite at least one more battle in the late lamented Culture War.
That really is it, isn’t it? What set the twits a twittering was the first black President had the audacity to stand up for another black man and call the overzealous and oppressive police response in the case stupid. Well, the police response was stupid.
That said, before I go further, I would like to point out one thing. Barack Obama may have shown himself to be a truth teller and friend to Henry Gates last night, but he may have done Gates a disservice in one regard. The famed "Blue Line" of police in situations like this is a strong factor far greater than most people realize, and Obama’s comment will surely stiffen the police line in Gates’ case. It was a line already forming:
The union representing the police sergeant who arrested a prominent black Harvard professor last week at his home in Cambridge, Mass., said it was standing behind the officer. The union, the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association, said in a statement that Sergeant James Crowley was a “highly respected veteran supervisor” who had its “full and unqualified support.” “His actions at the scene of this matter were consistent with his training, with the informed policies and practices of the Read more