“I don’t have all the facts.” That’s how President Barack Obama started answering a question at a news conference last night — a question tinged with racial overtones and far-reaching implications depending on the tenor and content of the answer. It also was a question asked at a press conference called to promote the president’s healthcare reform initiative.
Sorry, Mr. President, but if you were trying to address racial tensions or sell your health care overhaul, you blew it.
The question was in regard to the arrest of a Harvard professor at his home, after neighbors reported to police that a break-in may be in progress. When police arrived, Professor Henry Gates, according to reports, immediately became belligerent, claiming the police were racist. He apparently refused to cooperate and is quoted as saying the officer, “couldn’t understand a black man standing up for his rights, right in his face.”
Sorry, Professor Gates, but if you were trying to make a statement for educated black men in America, you blew it.
The officer, Sgt. James Crowley, is refusing to apologize, writing in his police report that Gates was “exhibiting loud and tumultuous manner in a public place.” I don’t envy you in any way, sergeant, because you and your colleagues face an incredibly daunting and dangerous task every day you put on the uniform. I know, because I have friends and family who wear police badges. But I also know that if the strongest charge you could come up with for Gates was disorderly conduct then you didn’t have much going for your side of the issue.
Sorry, Sgt. Crowley, but if you were hoping to stand up for police officers and their rights to do their job and not be yelled at by people, you blew it.
Forrest Gump told us his mother always said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”
…Mr. Gates should not have acted stupidly by yelling at police;
…Sgt. Crowley should not have acted stupidly by elevating a tense situation instead of diffusing it; and
…President Obama should not have acted stupidly by commenting on something without having all the facts and, in the process, competing with himself for the headlines this morning.
Forrest’s mom sure was smart.