Friday, July 24, 2009

A teachable moment

When Obama is good... he's REALLY good:

Obama on Gates Incident: 'My Hope Is This Ends Up Being A Teachable Moment' by Rachel Slajda for TPM:

President Obama just made a surprise appearance at the daily White House press briefing, taking over the podium from Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to make a few comments about the hullabaloo over the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.

"These are two decent people," Obama said. He said he spoke by phone with Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting officer, which he said confirmed his impression that Crowley is a good, decent police officer.

But, he said, "African-Americans are sensitive to these issues, and even when you've got a police officer who has a fine track record on racial sensitivity, interactions between police officers and the African-American community can sometimes be fraught with misunderstanding."

"My hope is that, as a consequence of this event, this ends up being what's called a teachable moment," Obama said.

...where all of us, instead of pumping up the volume, spend a little more time listening to each other, and try to focus on how we can generally improve relations between police officers and minority communities, and that instead of flinging accusations we can all be a little more reflective in terms of what we can do to contribute to more unity.

As for those who criticized the president for getting involved:

There are some who say as president I shouldn't have stepped into this at all, (which) I disagree with. The fact that this has become such big issue is indicative of fact that race is still a troubling aspect of our society.

"Whether I were black or white, I think me commenting on this and hopefully contributing to constructive, not negative, (discussion) ... is part of my portfolio," Obama said.

As for the teachable moment, he said we need to spend "a little more time listening to each other, and focus on how we can generally improve relationships between police officers and minority communities."

He also said Crowley suggested that he, the president and Gates meet over a beer in the White House. Obama said it hasn't been scheduled, but seemed open to the idea.

Crowley apparently asked Obama how to get reporters off his lawn.

"I informed him I can't get the press off my lawn. He pointed out my lawn is bigger than his lawn," he said, to laughter from the press corps. "Sgt. Crowley would be happy for you to stop trampling his grass."

Obama also joked that no one's been paying much attention to health care because of this story.

Update: FDL has the video:


ntodd said...


ellroon said...

He is adroit, isn't he!

Mike Goldman said...


ellroon said...

I'm just so pleased we have a president who can speak in complex sentences....