The other night when President Obama was winding up his abysmal prime time performance to sell ObamaCare it appeared that Chicago Sun Times columnist Lynn Sweet was throwing him a life preserver. When I heard the question about the arrest of Harvard professor Louis Gates the cynic in me immediately smelled a planted question by a home town journalist. Sweet denies this and I suppose, under the circumstances, I’ll take her at her word because, if for no other reason, what she ended up tossing him was an anvil and not a life lifeline.
While the Gates question has had the effect of obscuring the President’s failure to close the sale on ObamaCare in a prime time venue of his own choosing, it is indeed the political gift that keeps on giving. So firmly had the President planted his foot in his mouth with this one remark that he had to walk it back today by calling a local cop and ‘splain himself.
President Obama called the Cambridge police officer who arrested his friend, prominent Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., but did not go so far as to say he apologized to the sergeant for saying the police acted “stupidly” during the incident.
“Because this has been ratcheting up — and I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up — I want to make clear that in my choice of words, I think, I unfortunately… gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge police department or Sgt. Crowley specifically,” the president said. “And I could’ve calibrated those words differently. And I told this to Sgt. Crowley.”
That’s an interesting choice of words. Is “calibrated” sort of like an octane rating? Let’s see, maybe it’s like this: for regular race baiting it’s 87 octane, for Presidential race baiting it’s 89 octane and for full scale riot inducing Reverend Wright race baiting it’s 92 octane. Maybe President Obama told Sergeant Crowley that he wanted to hit the reset button.
One obvious result of the President’s ill considered remarks about the Gates arrest is that the Axelrod polling on it must be returning some dreadful data, otherwise the president would not call a Cambridge cop and try to defuse a politically radioactive situation. Unfortunately for the president, the public has already observed what Bill Kristol just tonight remarked on. The Gates fiasco is not just about race. It’s about class. It’s about a working class cop versus a Harvard Square elitist. It’s about a bow tied Ivy League effete versus a tee shirt police sergeant. As Charles Krauthammer said, while President Obama is more comfortable with the Ivy League set his political advisors have discovered that the cop represents a more formidable political opponent. It’s ironic that the BS meter in the local police squad is more finely tuned than the Washington press corps but, at the end of the day, the police wake up every morning with reality staring them in the face. This President is a stranger to that world of experience.