After Jeremiah Wright, I suppose he thought he could get away with it. But he is President now and needs to live up to his own hype. He is failing. And the controversy is still sizzling. Below is most of one of two articles on the subject in the current issue of "The Times" of London. I was going to write no more on this subject but since it is still sizzling I think I should record some of that sizzle
They are calling it bar-stool diplomacy – a novel attempt by President Barack Obama to cool a heated racial controversy by inviting the offended parties to settle their differences over a beer at the White House. Yet the president’s efforts to limit the fallout from a row over the arrest last week of Henry Louis Gates Jr, a black Harvard professor, may serve to extend a furore that has shaken the White House and raised questions about Obama’s vaunted leadership skills.
The row showed no sign of diminishing yesterday as Massachusetts media pressed for the release of police tapes that could shed new light on the angry exchanges between Gates and Sergeant James Crowley, a white officer who arrived at the professor’s Cambridge home to investigate a report of a break-in.
The incident led to a rare breakdown of Obama’s previously impressive political judgment. Having spent much of the past two years steering clear of racial controversy and nurturing an image of so-called “postracial” conciliation, the president plunged unexpectedly into the Gates affair. He declared on Wednesday, when it was still far from clear what had happened, that the Massachusetts police had “acted stupidly” by arresting Gates, whom Obama described as a personal friend.
By Friday evening, Obama was back-pedalling furiously and his invitation to Gates and Crowley to join him for a beer was interpreted as an acknowledgment by the president that he had spoken too hastily in “maligning” the police. “I could have calibrated those words differently,” he said. Yet the move also ensured that a story he desperately wants to go away will continue to overshadow his domestic political agenda. No beer-drinkers are likely to make as many headlines as the president, the professor and the policeman. Gates said yesterday that he would accept the invitation and would meet Crowley.
Within hours of Obama’s televised press conference on Wednesday night it was clear the Gates incident did not exactly fit the shameful mould of thuggish white cop picking on an innocent black man.... The fact that Gates was hauled away from his own home despite having provided proof that he lived there fuelled the complaints of “racial profiling” – supposed police discrimination against blacks.
It then emerged that Crowley, 42, knew a great deal about police treatment of black suspects – he had been hand-picked by his African-American chief of police to teach a local academy course on avoiding discrimination.
Obama’s discomfort increased when Sergeant Leon Lashley, a black Cambridge officer who was at the scene, said he supported Crowley’s actions “100%”. Lashley added: “I was there. He did nothing wrong. There’s nothing rogue about him. He was doing his job.”
As police unions around the country took umbrage at Obama’s “stupid” remark, it was not just white conservatives who were happy to bash the president. Bill Cosby, the black entertainer who has criticised African-Americans for a “victim” mentality, said he was “shocked” by the president’s willingness to jump into the dispute. “If I’m president of the United States . . . I’m keeping my mouth shut,” added Cosby.
Crowley told a local radio station: “I think he’s way off base wading into a local issue without knowing all the facts.”
By Friday evening, Obama was back in character as the smooth and charming diplomat as he joked about Crowley’s problems with overwhelming media attention. “He wanted to find out if there was a way of getting the press off his lawn,” the president said. “I informed him that I can’t get the press off my lawn.”
Behind the humour lay an awkward reality for Obama. His approval ratings have been slipping steadily as Americans worry about his interventionist policies. In a Rasmussen poll released on Friday, he fell below 50% for the first time, and an ugly argument about race is not going to help him recover.
Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see TONGUE-TIED. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here