Beer Summit Hangover

Beer Summit Hangover

Thursday’s beer bash on the White House lawn resulted in racial peace in out time sheepishness on the part of  reporters and commentators, who had inflated a symbolic photo opportunity into a “Racial Summit Meeting.”  President Obama, Vice President Biden, Harvard Professor Henry Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley merely chatted over a beer in DC’s summer heat, as planned.

It’s not like anyone elected Dr. Gates to represent Black America. And Sargeant Crowley is hardly the embodiment of racism — he has taken ethnic awareness sessions and trains fellow officers on avoiding racial profiling.

Nevetheless, since this local incident has been blown out of proportion, it might as well be used to focus on the very real issue of “Contempt of Cop” arrests and their race and class dimensions. Let us hope Sergeant Crowley and Dr. Gates are wise enough to look into this pervasive practice together in some forum other than the courtroom.

The media expressed disappointment that the event did not meet the unrealistic expectations they had set for it:

“Beer bash falls flat,” Boston Herald

“Obama’s beer summit’ yields symbolic image, but little else,” Kansas City Star

 “Obama, Gates, and Crowley Beer Summit a Snooze,” U.S. News and World Report

On the positive side, Professor Gates took our advice and switched from Jamaican Red Stripe beer to a Boston brew named after founding father (and Harvard grad) Samuel Adams. Patriot Adams was maligned as a “master of propaganda” (Dr. Gates, take note).

 

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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6 Responses to “Beer Summit Hangover”

  1. Big Money Tony Says:

    This was kind of blown out of proportion, although I think Obama lit the fire under it with “stupidly”. Maybe this will put the issue to bed. Not the issue of racism, but I doubt much more of this will be talked about by the 2 primaries, Gates & Crowley. Charges dropped and I hope Gates does not decide a lawsuit is necessary.

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    Big Money Tony wrote: I think Obama lit the fire under it with “stupidly’

    No doubt about it. The media reduced the entire news conference — about health care policy except for that question — to that one-word sound bite.

    I hope Gates does not decide a lawsuit is necessary

    As I commented on your blog, Tony, if Dr. Gates and Sgt. Crowley are wise, they will get together and do a joint study of the “Contempt of Cop” issue. Sgt. Crowley (who taught a class on racial profiling at the Lowell Police Academy) could instruct officers how to avoid abuse of discretionary police powers of arrest.

  3. chico brisbane Says:

    I think he [President Obama] was on the right track when he said that he didn’t have all of the facts, but instead of leaving it at that, he somehow surmised that the police “acted stupidly” with “stupidly” being the word that his detractors feasted upon and then regurgitated as Obama saying the the cop was stupid.

    I have encountered more then a few thin-skinned, power hungry police officers in my time and regardless of what Dr. Gates was telling this police officer, the moment that he determined that there was no burglary in progress and that Gates was the homeowner, that’s it. You walk back to your patrol car and put yourself back in service regardless of what kind of childish temper tantrum Gates was having.

    Some police officers just can’t resist having the last word and they know all-to-well that the least effective thing that can be said to an irate individual is to “Be Quiet.” or “Calm Down.” or even worse “Shut Up.” – They know all too well that the most effective thing that they can do is to simply leave, yet it is (in my experience) the furthest thing from their minds.

    “This person is yelling at me! – I’m a cop! – I’ve got a gun and a badge that I trained hard to get. – Why is he dissing me like this? – I’m here because it was reported that his house was being burglarized! – Boy-O-Boy that’s gratatude for ya! – The nerve of this guy! – Who does he think he’s talking to?”

    [Edited for clarity -- ml]

  4. Mike Licht Says:

    chico brisbane wrote: I think he was on the right track when he said that he didn’t have all of the facts

    If the President had answered as a lawyer (“It would not be appropriate for me to comment”) and not as a politician, the news for the last two weeks would have been about healthcare legislation.

  5. Nathan Says:

    “If the President had answered as a lawyer (”It would not be appropriate for me to comment”) and not as a politician…”

    This makes no sense. As a politician, the last thing he wanted was to distract from his healthcare agenda. He answered as a human being who was sympathetic to what he instinctively saw as the unfair treatment of his friend. He then admitted that his remark was a mistake – somethign pols are loathe to do as we all know. A bit of humanity and humility are hardly the worst we could do in the Oval Office.

  6. Mike Licht Says:

    Nathan wrote: This makes no sense. As a politician, the last thing he wanted was to distract from his healthcare agendaM

    Recall the context. Lynn Sweet’s question about the Gates incident ended a press conference about health policy. In this case, the lawyerly answer would have served Mr. Obama’s desired political end, public attention on health insurance reform.
    Even his prepared response on the Gates topic (without the deadly “acted stupidly” ad-lib) distracted the media from the topic of the entire press conference, health reform.

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