Then he gratuitously and incendiarily threw race into the mix, saying that we don't know what role race played in the incident (hint, hint) and adding that it's "fair to say ... any of us would be pretty angry." He said the Cambridge police acted "stupidly" in arresting Gates in his own home -- completely ignoring Crowley's explanation that he arrested Gates for his disorderly and abusive behavior as opposed to his race. Obama exacerbated that impression by launching into a mini-diatribe about the "long history" of racial profiling by American cops. "That's just a fact," he said.
Obama intentionally exploited the incident with reckless disregard for the damage he did to Gates, to law enforcement generally, and to ongoing race relations. All in all, a disgraceful performance and not one befitting a self-described post-racial president.
Adding insult to injury, he later held a news conference, not to apologize, but to justify himself. The arrogance and presumptuousness of his original remarks were only exceeded by these follow-up statements.
He revealed that he had personally talked with both Sgt. Crowley and professor Gates. Can you imagine the media reaction if President Bush -- the guy they said never admitted his mistakes -- had insinuated himself to that degree in a local matter?
Obama said he had given an unfortunate impression that he was maligning Crowley or the Cambridge Police Department and could have -- not even "should have" -- "calibrated" his words differently. Pure weasel words when a simple, heartfelt apology would have sufficed.
Next he offered his patronizing assessment that both men probably overreacted and that cooler heads should have prevailed. How about an acknowledgment that he -- Obama -- overreacted?
How does Obama know whether both were at fault? He may pretend he was being noble and high-minded by declaring that each shared blame, but if it turns out that Crowley was acting appropriately, then Obama further damaged him by suggesting otherwise.
Just as importantly, why would he continue, inappropriately, to comment on the facts? Obviously because he wanted to exploit this incident as a "teachable moment" on race relations, whether or not the facts fit his template.
If there's a teachable moment here, it's that not everything between blacks and whites or Hispanics and whites is about race, and people, especially U.S. presidents when commenting on local matters that don't concern them, should not always jump to the conclusion that racism is involved. They should not yell "racism" (or any other "ism") first and examine the facts later. Leave that to the Sharptons and Jacksons.
If President Obama truly wants to enhance race relations, he would be better served to follow the example of Bill Cosby rather than that of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
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