as stupid does,” Forrest Gump’s mother always tells him, in order to build up his self confidence against the world’s cruel remarks about his intelligence, and—boy!—was Obama’s condescending remark about the “stupidly” behaving Cambridge police stupid.
Obama: Cambridge police acted ‘stupidly’
After spending most of an hour patiently reiterating his arguments for changing the health insurance system, President Barack Obama turned his press conference sharply toward an iconic moment in American race relations: The arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. earlier this week by the Cambridge Police.
Gates was arrested for allegedly disorderly conduct—a charge that was quickly dropped—after a confrontation with a police officer inside his own home. Though some facts of the case are still in dispute, Obama showed little doubt about who had been wronged.
“I don’t know—not having been there and not seeing all the facts—what role race played in that, but I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two that he Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home,” Obama said in response to a question from the Chicago Sun-Times’s Lynn Sweet.
Gates, Obama allowed, “is a friend, so I may be a little biased here. I don’t know all the facts.”
However Gates, he continued, “jimmied his way to get into [his own] house.”
“There was a report called in to the police station that there might be a burglary taking place—so far so good,” Obama said, reflecting that he’d hope the police were called if he were seen breaking into his own house, then pausing.
“I guess this is my house now,” he remarked of the White House. “Here I’d get shot.”
Undergirding the long digression, though, was Obama’s place as a new symbol of racial reconciliation, and his long past in the trenches of the politics of race and discrimination in the Illinois State Senate.
“Separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-American and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately,” the president said, eagerly engaging the issue of racial profiling, a concern earlier in his career that has seen little White House attention to date.
“That’s just a fact,” Obama said of profiling. “That doesn’t lessen the incredibly progress that has been made.”
By Ben Smith 09:05 PM
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When I was young, racism was right out in the open and segregation was still legal in many places. Discrimination in jobs, housing, medical care and education was normal, and so obvious a blind man could see it. That was all a long time ago, you might say. Not so long ago.
Posted By: Michael C. McHugh | July 22, 2009 at 09:13 PM
I just finished listening to this press conference. I told my wife, “You watch. He talked about all kinds of important things tonight, and when you read about it tomorrow, all you will hear is that comment that the Cambridge police acted stupidly.” And lo and behold, Politico did just what I said. Let’s see now, didn’t he talk about health care? And transparency and a lot of other things? Your should report the “stupid” remark, but to make it whole thing. As you all in the sensationalism business?
Posted By: JAB | July 22, 2009 at 09:18 PM
Pathetic. Impugn the police officer without having the facts. What happened to Mr. Post Partisan? Wouldn’t it be nice if our Commander in Chief actually either a: kept his mouth shut, or b. be color blind and get all of the facts first before adding fuel to the fire.
Posted By: David E | July 22, 2009 at 09:19 PM
imsure thoses cops listen to fox and rush
Posted By: reginald smith | July 22, 2009 at 09:20 PM
“I don’t know what happened, I wasn’t there” is how the President should have answered the question. Also what seems to be lost in the argument is that Gates was arrested for Disorderly Conduct for what happened after it had been established that it was in fact his residence.
Posted By: Connecticut | July 22, 2009 at 09:21 PM
I have to say I am Hispanic and my wife is American of African heritage. We have never been racially profiled. I think one has to look at “Class Profiling”. As for the gentlemen being arrested. I can understand that and I hope the President was smart enough to review the facts. As a Govt Civilian often having to carry a weapon and my wife being a Federal Agent. You slip up once and are dead. The round doesn’t care what color you are and strikes the same no matter the color of the shooter. I will support the police in their actions before I will ever support a politician. A politician tries to get elected back to office. The LEO is just trying to do the right thing and get home.
Posted By: Chris | July 22, 2009 at 09:22 PM
As a retired police officer I found Obama’s comment about this incident offenseive. I worked as an IA (Internal Affairs) inv. and police officer do stupid things. However, as the President of our country to judge on Police agency as being stupid is totally wrong. Again, I am not taking the position that the police acted correctly. I feel that in his position he needed to be more careful and sensitve when calling someone “stupid”
Posted By: jtl | July 22, 2009 at 09:22 PM
Is it not reckless for the POTUS to weigh in against the Cambridge police in a case involving a personal acquaintance so very soon after the incident? I dont think he was exactly surprised at the last question.
Posted By: francis | July 22, 2009 at 09:24 PM
maddow and msnbc already covering for obama and the numerous facts he got wrong about the arrest. so not only did he fail in his primary goal to reassure the american people about his healthcare plans in this conference, but he also lost the support of every cop in america. keep it up barry!
Posted By: max | July 22, 2009 at 09:25 PM
What JAB said. POLITICO is Pathetic. And what is this “new symbol of racial reconciliation” nonsense? Ben Smith obviously drank the post racial kool-aid.
Posted By: J | July 22, 2009 at 09:25 PM
He said he didn’t have all the facts and that he was biased. So of course it was the officers who acted stupidly. Maybe we need to take some time and get all the facts before we jump to conclusions. JUST LIKE WITH HEALTHCARE
Posted By: AH | July 22, 2009 at 09:26 PM