President Obama’s reaction to the arrest of Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr. shows just one more example of the president’s inability to keep a campaign promise. First, let me tell you a little story to put things in context:
Some years back a police cruiser followed my wife and me home after we’d had dinner out. The cruiser passed by as I parked in our driveway. But the officer immediately turned around and promptly parked at the end of the driveway, effectively blocking us in. As we were both out of the car, he approached me directly and asked to see some identification.
Keep in mind we’re middle aged, pretty respectable looking, and my wife was at the mailbox getting our mail. Still the officer felt — for reasons unknown to us — that there might be problems and so he wanted my identification. OK, fine. I knew that since he had been following us, he probably knew who I was anyway by running my plates. He had some reason to be standing on our property blocking our car asking for my ID.
I didn’t assume that he was picking on me because my last name sounds Jewish (although it wouldn’t be the first time that had happened). Regardless, I certainly didn’t pull the boorish stunt that Prof. Gates pulled:
Cambridge police said Gates answered an officer’s request for identification by shouting, “No I will not,” according to Figueroa’s report. Gates accused the arresting sergeant of racism and told him, “You don’t know who you’re messing with,” the report said. …”I’ll speak with your mama outside!”
As it turned out, the registration sticker on our license plate had expired, and the officer noticed it and wanted the skinny. But this is where it gets interesting… We couldn’t find our registration, and a check on the plates came back to someone half a state away. Still there was no “Your mama” and we quietly solved the problem. On the other hand, if I’d shouted or refused to provide ID, I would have been in the “Gray Bar Hotel” so fast my head would have spun. And I would have stayed there because I’m not a friend of the POTUS, I’m not a Harvard prof, and because I didn’t try to play the “I’m being discriminated against!” card.
So with that as a backdrop, how did the head of our nation react? He first admitted that he didn’t have all the facts and then immediately claimed that the Cambridge Police acted “stupidly”.
No, no, Mr. President, the Cambridge Police didn’t act stupidly… no more than that police officer acted stupidly in my driveway that night. He had a legitimate concern and he was duty-bound to get to the bottom of it all. We both behaved as gentlemen, and a computer SNAFU was unearthed. When he left, we were all smiling, my wife and I commenting to each other how efficient our town police are.
But there are two people and two issues that are stupid and sad about this pathetic story:
- Prof. Gates played the race card on three police officers – one white, one black, and one Hispanic.
- The President of the United States jumps wildly to a conclusion — even though he first admits that he doesn’t know the facts on which he is opining.
- A professor with connections and a chip on his shoulder played a “get out of jail card” that us common folks (black, white, or green) never would have had (or wanted) in the first place.
- And finally and most tragically, you, President Obama, promised that your term would be the first post-racial presidency. I guess we all should have know better, given your long-time association with folks like Rev. Wright.
Anyway, chalk up yet another presidential broken promise, right along with pledges concerning jobs, transparency, staffing, Gitmo, gay rights, earmarks, a five-day window for all all Americans to read the bills that it turns out no-one has read except the lobbyists who wrote them, etc.
It’s going to be a loooong four years.