I wasn't going to comment on Henry Louis Gates Jr. getting himself arrested after breaking into his own home and then mouthing off to the police officer who had been sent to the home to investigate a potential break in at the house by a neighbor's call to police. Yelling at a cop is almost always a dumb idea unless you are yelling, "Help me officer!" or "Have a good day officer!" The police report was pretty clear about the incident. Even if you are inclined to believe that police officers as lying abusers of power there appear to have been plenty of witnesses present to speak about what they saw occur.
Having read the police report I was puzzled when the President of the United States chose to answer a question about the incident at the end of his press conference on health care reform last night. I would have thought that a savvy politician would refrain from getting into the middle of such a squabble before all involved had had a chance to speak their piece or refrain from getting into it at all. The question about the Gates incident was a "no comment" question if ever I heard one. Instead the President of the United States, after first admitting that he was biased because he is a friend of Gates, then admitting that he didn't actually know the facts of the incident, and then getting the reported events wrong, none the less chose to claim that the police officers acted stupidly.
Got that? The President of the United States, the President of the officers in question, claimed that they acted stupidly after acknowledging, and demonstrating, that he didn't actually know the facts of the case.
He then followed up with a rambling retelling of the well worn racial narrative of suspiciously frequent encounters between law enforcement officers and blacks and latinos (added on to reflect the new demographic shift in the nation or to reflect who the he was hoping to appeal to?). Frankly I would have expected this from any talking head on the news or the usual array of race hustlers. But coming from the President of the United States it was disappointing. Was the President of the United States attempting to excuse Gates' behavior with his admittedly uninformed response?
I can't say that his response changed my opinion of my President but I certainly hope that next time he'll wait a bit for the facts to come to light before letting himself get carried away from truth and reality by a racial narrative.
The officer who had the misfortune to respond to the call to Gates' residence has said about as much as he can on the issue namely that he is not a racist and there won't be any apology for doing his job. Gates is apparently already considering a documentary on racial profiling. I hope this officer isn't further tarnished by Gates' bad behavior and the rush to judgment in adherence to the racial narrative of the racist cop hassling the black man. It's sad that one need only yell "racist" to get a pass on bad behavior and this President of the United States on your side in the matter.