Even the Wall St. Journal last week got in on the recent Obama police snafu and subsequent beer fest. I’m referring to the president’s negative remark about the police who mistakenly arrested his friend, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. for breaking into his own home. For the president of the United States to call the police “stupid” was hardly Obama’s shining moment of glory. Not only that, but the whole issues diverted mass media attention away from health care reform. Maybe that was a good thing.
So, what’s my point in bringing this up? Even smart, intelligent people screw up. We all screw up every, single day. The issue isn’t what we screw up. It’s gonna happen. The issue is when we screw up, what do we learn; and how do we handle it?
What most of the media failed to mention is the fact that it was James Crowley, the policeman who
arrested Dr. Gates, who suggested the beer party to the president. Most media also failed to mention how this particular policeman teaches classes on how to avoid profiling, according to a report on NPR. I’m sure everybody learned a lot of lessons from this event.
And while many of the more conservative business people I know down here in the South have pounced on this issue to support their views that Obama is a dangerous threat to Democracy, others are glad the incident happened. They feel Obama’s presidency remains an historic event whereby the shadow side of race relations can be brought into the acid light of reality and possibly another layer of hatred dissolved.
According to some accounts, Officer Crowley gained a deeper understanding of the deep fear law- abiding African Americans live with every day. Dr. Gates learned that not every white policeman is trying torture him.
As for the President, he screws up just like the rest of us. It seems to me that whether you want to skewer him or shelter him says far more about you than it does about him. Personally, the error having been made, it makes a hell of a lot more sense to sit down and talk about it over a beer than it does to call in the lawyers or continue the “he said, he said” pointless pissing match that was happening.
Musing further on the challenges of assessing a sitting president, I think it is extremely difficult to do. We simply do not have enough solid information. We get the surface, the cosmetics, not the substance. How and when could that change? That’s the real question… What would have to be different to be able to truly judge fairly and honestly our politicians? That’s a good question we’d all do well to answer.