Readers on the left will be shocked, if not incredulous, to learn that neither I nor any conservative I know realized why the president asked Vice President Joseph Biden to join him, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley for their fabled “beer summit” at the White House.
I had simply assumed that the president invited Biden in order to lessen any tension by having someone with no connection to the case join the meeting. Likewise, another conservative, the producer of my radio show, Allen Estrin, assumed that the vice president was in the area and was spontaneously invited to join the trio. My engineer, Sean McConnell, just wondered why the vice president was there.
We were all blindsided by the reason that liberals apparently instinctively understood: to provide racial balance, as it wouldn’t look right if Sgt. Crowley were outnumbered two to one by blacks. In the words of the New York Times coverage of the event: “to add balance to the photo op that the White House presented: two black guys, two white guys, sitting around a table.”
This is highly instructive.
The fact that Crowley was outnumbered three to one by liberals meant little or nothing to most Americans on the left, because they deem race far more significant than values. Most conservatives, on the other hand, saw the president, the vice-president, the Harvard professor and the police officer, not two blacks and two whites. Indeed, such a calculation would have struck most conservatives as absurd: Was Sgt. Crowley supposed to think, “Hey, great, another white is at the table; now I feel secure”?
In order to deflect attention from the president’s gaffe in declaring that the Cambridge police “acted stupidly” right after acknowledging both that he was a personal friend of Louis Gates and that he did not have all the facts, the president and his liberal supporters have told us that the Crowley-Gates incident would be a great teachable moment for al Americans.
It has indeed turned out to be, but not at all in the way the president has meant it to be.
All it has taught, indeed reconfirmed, is how much more race-conscious the left is.