Over the past months, we’ve started to see that with President Obama, the personal is very much the political. For example, we know the President has stories to tell about how health insurance companies treated his mother, and he has shown a studied ignorance of how insurance actually works, saying that health insurers (all of them, apparently) “cherry pick” risks and use pre-existing condition clauses to “get out of” paying benefits.
One wonders whether Mr. Obama has similarly negative prejudices about Wall Street executives or urban police. He was “outraged” by retention payments at AIG FP, even though those bonuses were clearly appropriate. And now he says that the Cambridge police “behaved stupidly,” after saying (i) that he was a friend of Prof. Gates, (ii) that he didn’t know the facts, and (iii) at an earlier presser, that he likes to know what he’s talking about before speaking. Despite the President's low opinion of corporate executives, he was willing to pretend to think about the AIG case before feigning disgust at their alleged rapacity. The Cambridge police got no such consideration. The guy must really hate cops.
My guess is that Mr. Obama has alienated an important constituency with his “stupidly” comment. And he seems to agree, as he has started to walk the comment back as the newsies like to say. We’re down from “The Cambridge Police acted stupidly” to “cooler heads should have prevailed,” which is true, only it seems to have been Prof. Gates who had the hot head. I think Gates and Obama simply messed with the wrong cop – a respected sergeant with a reputation for professionalism and decorum – not the “rogue” Gates thought it made sense to call him so as not to be attacking all cops generally, which would not be so good a strategy.
The whole thing smells. Gates is almost certainly lying about how things went down, and he is rapidly becoming Al Sharpton and Tawana Brawley all wrapped into one. (I’m still trying to get my brain around his “denial” of disorderly conduct on CNN: “Do I look disorderly?”) Only the liberal media and those, like Sharpton, who are black for a living take him seriously.
I used to have a high opinion of Gates. I thought he was more serious than buffoons like Cornell West and Michael Eric Dyson, who act as if glibness were wisdom. But apparently, he’s just another guy whose livelihood is threatened by the waning of racism as an issue, whether or not as a fact.
Still, Skip Gates is not my concern. My concern is the mounting evidence that our post-everything President not only puts his pants on one leg at a time, but that those legs terminate in very ordinary feet of clay.