If you're the leader of the free world, there may be a few things that take you by surprise from time to time. Planes flying into buildings of your largest city, or reporters from your hometown asking you a question in a press conference, one thing is for sure--these surprises will often tell everyone watching a little bit about who you really are.
So if a reporter from your hometown, asks you a question that you probably shouldn't weigh in on then just say, "I have no comment on that at this time."
Also... If you intend on answering questions that you do not have the facts on, don't be blaming the media the next day and claiming they are "distracting" the American people from the important issue. Most Americans believe that the integrity of the President of the United States is a fairly important issue.
But perhaps the biggest lesson you might take away from President Obama's absolute choke-on-his-words finale to this past week’s press conference, is that perhaps the south side of Chicago is not where you should best form your opinion of municipal police departments. For while most of America was patently offended by the sliming of the entire Cambridge, Massachusetts police department in Obama's remarks--not even having the presence of mind to only slander the officers involved--the President didn't believe he had initially said anything wrong.
For you see, if you are from the south side of Chicago there are some things as a black man that you must never be allowed to believe. And if you are a political icon in that same community you are held to twice the amount of expectation on such things. Perhaps some of the most important ones being, "The police are always wrong, they must always be thought of with suspicion, and they always racially profile."
The rationale for some suspicion is probably well founded given African Americans’ history with the city over the years. But on some level it is simultaneously highly irrational given the large percentage of Chicago police officers who are in fact African American.
What I've known about President Obama going back all the way to when I covered his years in the state legislature, is that he is most transparent when he does not think. What we saw in the press conference this week was an example of that, and all the mea culpa since has been pure damage control. In other words when ignorantly (literally not knowing the facts of the case) the President pronounced the police as having acted "stupidly" it just rolled out of him naturally. Because on the south side of Chicago it is what you are taught to think, believe, and joke about with one another as the patrol cars come cruising by.