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Calibrating The Rhetoric

The other night when President Obama was winding up his abysmal prime time performance to sell ObamaCare it appeared that Chicago Sun Times columnist Lynn Sweet was throwing him a life preserver. When I heard the question about the arrest of Harvard professor Louis Gates the cynic in me immediately smelled a planted question by a home town journalist. Sweet denies this and I suppose, under the circumstances, I'll take her at her word because, if for no other reason, what she ended up tossing him was an anvil and not a life lifeline.

While the Gates question has had the effect of obscuring the President's failure to close the sale on ObamaCare in a prime time venue of his own choosing, it is indeed the political gift that keeps on giving. So firmly had the President planted his foot in his mouth with this one remark that he had to walk it back today by calling a local cop and 'splain himself.

President Obama called the Cambridge police officer who arrested his friend, prominent Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., but did not go so far as to say he apologized to the sergeant for saying the police acted "stupidly" during the incident.

"Because this has been ratcheting up -- and I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up -- I want to make clear that in my choice of words, I think, I unfortunately... gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge police department or Sgt. Crowley specifically," the president said. "And I could've calibrated those words differently. And I told this to Sgt. Crowley."

That's an interesting choice of words. Is "calibrated" sort of like an octane rating? Let's see, maybe it's like this: for regular race baiting it's 87 octane, for Presidential race baiting it's 89 octane and for full scale riot inducing Reverend Wright race baiting it's 92 octane. Maybe President Obama told Sergeant Crowley that he wanted to hit the reset button.

One obvious result of the President's ill considered remarks about the Gates arrest is that the Axelrod polling on it must be returning some dreadful data, otherwise the president would not call a Cambridge cop and try to defuse a politically radioactive situation. Unfortunately for the president, the public has already observed what Bill Kristol just tonight remarked on. The Gates fiasco is not just about race. It's about class. It's about a working class cop versus a Harvard Square elitist. It's about a bow tied Ivy League effete versus a tee shirt police sergeant. As Charles Krauthammer said, while President Obama is more comfortable with the Ivy League set his political advisors have discovered that the cop represents a more formidable political opponent. It's ironic that the BS meter in the local police squad is more finely tuned than the Washington press corps but, at the end of the day, the police wake up every morning with reality staring them in the face. This President is a stranger to that world of experience.

Kevin was on this first


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Comments (21)

IMO, Obama jumped the gun a... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

IMO, Obama jumped the gun and made a stupid remark. i have a feeling that he had not heard all of the details before saying what he did, and i think it contributed to making the whole situation worse. i also think that the professor (gates) overreacted, and is making this into something that it is not.

the subject of race/racism is definitely inflammatory, and i think that many people (on all sides) overreact and say things without thinking. at the same time, i think that there are real issues surrounding this subject, and that it's a good thing to get a dialog going. it's important to get people talking about it and confronting the subject of racism, because it is a real problem on multiple fronts.

Let it go. It's over. I'm s... (Below threshold)

Let it go. It's over. I'm sorry, but you won't be able to paint Obama as a racist today. Obama, unlike most of the GOP elites, was born poor and worked in poor neighbourhoods, something which you wouldn't know about if it whacked you on the ass.

It was interesting to watch... (Below threshold)
Andrew X:

It was interesting to watch 'Hardball' tonight on this. We all know where Chris Matthews and his well-used kneepads stand. But I did make a notable observation. (I missed the middle part of the show, just FYI.)

Namely that the class element of this story was utterly utterly lost to everyone on the show. Not a hint of it. It was ALL race race race race race. One radio guy noted that whites and blacks were diametrically opposed, and said "If the races were reversed, black cop, white prof, the whites would have supported the prof, the blacks the cop."

This is of course an astoudingly obtuse failure to understand some fundamental contours of today's political landscape. Your white working class guy in Indiana is going to rally to the belligerant, arrogant, full-of-himself, "do you know who I am??" Martha's Vineyard summering Harvard professor over the working class cop? What planet is this guy on??

But if working class whites took the side of the black cop over the white professor, well, that would send tremors through the entire leftist philosophical edifice. "He's a professor of the Harvard elite!! Of COURSE he's anti-racist! They're working class whites! Of COURSE they hate black people! Of COURSE this is all true!"

So as far as 'Hardball' is concerned, that is all just the way the world is set up in their cozy little lefty world. And ever it shall be.

Yeah, poor ol' Barry. Growi... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Yeah, poor ol' Barry. Growing up on the mean streets, er, beaches of Hawaii, going to the most elite school on the islands. AA rides in the rough and tumble Ivy League. Playing at being a community organizer to get street cred. Working by the sweat of his brow to get that mansion from the Rezco scam, er, I mean deal. Publishing his lifetime of memoirs in his 30s.
A real self-made man.

Jake it is not over. The th... (Below threshold)

Jake it is not over. The the taint of elitism is remaining and sticking to your inept president. So funny.

Jake, you, too, are as stup... (Below threshold)

Jake, you, too, are as stupid as Obama. Welcome to the club.
Any old stupid Texas governor understands the idea of actually waiting to look at the facts before opening your mouth and saying something dumb.
Let's put the cards on the table: Obama was given a set-up question for which he had a nicely rehearsed answer. The problem is that none of them, none of them, get the point.
Obama blew the great, set-up, wrap it all up, Music Man leads the band into the street question.
Why? Because he's a dumbass.
I'll admit that how President Dumbass answered a softball, pre-planned, knock-it-out-of-the-park question doesn't mean all that much.
What matters to me is that this dumbass is pushing some irrational health care reform crap down our throats. And don't get me started on Cap and Trade.

How absolutely stupid could... (Below threshold)

How absolutely stupid could Obama be? The proper response would have been "I don't know the details AND it's a local issue so I'll defer comment"

Is Obama available to inter... (Below threshold)

Is Obama available to intervene in an old speeding ticket of mine?

I mean, since he's got all the country ills well in hand, and calling local cops and all, I thought he could square it away for me! He could fill my tank up with gas while he's at it!

In his non-apology, Obama h... (Below threshold)
Jerry M:

In his non-apology, Obama has demonstrated once again that he is an arrogant, egotistical narcissist. Individuals with those character flaws find it impossible to muster up the humility or class to offer an apology even when they were clearly wrong. The only thing he regrets is that it has caused a serious political backlash for him. The only reason he very stupidly got involved in this situation was not because Gates was just any African American but because Professor Gates is another Harvard elite and like minded close friend. It's entirely plausible that Gates may have communicated with Obama about this incident prompting Obama to get involved. Gates,by the way, is Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Center for African and African American Studies. DuBois was one of the founders of the NAACP and a black nationalist and socialist who joined the Communist party in 1961, renounced his US citizenship and moved to Ghana where he died in 1963. Given his apparent admiration for DuBois, Gates likely holds many of the same anti-American, black separatist attitudes as Obama's other close friend the Rev. Wright. Gates' radical ideology probably explains why he resents obeying authority. Interesting how Obama seems to have had multiple love affairs with America haters.

One thing you can say about Obama is he's no Harry Truman. The buck never stops with him.

All of these things are, to... (Below threshold)

All of these things are, to a large extent, staged in that the president knows who will ask what question ahead of time. He only answers questions for which he has prepared answers.

Maybe next time the democrats can find a nominee with a track record of executive accomplishments, character, and good judgement, rather than one with only "symbolic" justification.

IMO, Obama jump... (Below threshold)
Occam's Beard:

IMO, Obama jumped the gun and made a stupid remark.

Yeah. Good thing he doesn't have a responsible position where people would pay attention to what he says.

Obama, unlike most of the GOP elites, was born poor

Rubbish. He went to Punahou. (I did, too.) It's a tony upper class high school (think the Stanford of high schools) with tuition that my parents' had to scrape - and scrape hard - to pay. Current tuition there is over $16 K/yr. Anyone who could cough up the equivalent of $16 K/yr back then is not poor. His grandmother was a bank officer, not exactly on welfare. So cut the log cabin bit. He's been well-off since day one.

wow, three wizbang authors ... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

wow, three wizbang authors are on this one.

look, it was irresponsible for obama to comment about this, and in my opinion a clear apology is in order.

also, gates was out of line and blew this out of proportion with his personal agenda in mind. why not just understand the fact that the officer was responding to a call and take the time to let things get sorted out?

at the same time, folks who can't stand obama are trying to get as much out of this as they can. all of a sudden certain posters here are hauling off and calling obama a racist etc--a reaction which is every bit as reactionary and ridiculous as obama's comment and gates' behavior. but then, there are plenty of issues on both sides of the political spectrum, as usual (as amy kremer and David McKalip illustrate).

but then, pointing out such obvious issues with BOTH sides only earns negative votes around here, so fire away folks.

ryan a:You feeling... (Below threshold)

ryan a:

You feeling left out and wanna be a victim too?

Good grief, the "Presentdent" of the USA makes a big gaff on National TV and follows it up with ANOTHER gaff (NOT an apology). His highly divisive behavior is polarizing racial AND class tensions.

This is something to talk about. He is showing his true colors. The mask is off, but like the emperor, he still thinks he's wearing a beautiful robe of "WE WON!"

His mentors think a real civil war will pave they way to make the final revolution to take power. This is one way to start it.

Meanwhile the Democrat Party is haggling over blood money. Once the Blue Dogs get their 7 pieces of silver, our health care stem will be put on the cross. I don't imagine it rising again once that happens.

Skippy Gates is upping the ... (Below threshold)

Skippy Gates is upping the ante ... he was on the radio on Thursday charging that Sgt. Crowley "falsified his report"


Considering over 50% of the... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

Considering over 50% of the country now disapproves of the President, I'd say it wasn't just "right-wingers" who have noticed Obama's co mplete incompetence.

Obama makes Bush look like Einstein.

I never thought obama was g... (Below threshold)

I never thought obama was going to be the one to smooth race relations, I figured he would slip up and make things worst. It should never be about black against white or visa versa, it really should be about good against evil, and right against wrong. Being white if I hear of a crime against a black by a white, my loyality goes to black person, not to the white bacause we have the same skin color.
Obama has a chip on his shoulder a mile wide, he is not good for this country. He hates this country....that's why the lefties love him so much. But why do the lefties hate this country...do they feel guilty for living in a non-third world country?

mag wrote:"He hate... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

mag wrote:

"He hates this country....that's why the lefties love him so much."

Do you really believe this?

"But why do the lefties hate this country...do they feel guilty for living in a non-third world country?"

What makes you think that "lefties hate this country"? Who, in your opinion, counts among the so-called lefties? Is this just a generalization that you throw around, or are you referring to specific people?

Granted, I might have some ... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Granted, I might have some different opinions and views than some of you here, but I agree that the subject that the Gates/Crowley/Obama ordeal has brought up is definitely important to discuss.

So, how do some of you think that issues surrounding race and class can be addressed? What can people do, on all sides, to make some headway in this discussion? How can the different sides of the political spectrum (Conservative, Liberal, etc) deal with their own internal issues?

How should we all get past the reactions of someone like Gates, or David McKalip (to name a couple of people who have been in the news of late)?

Ryan A,I be... (Below threshold)
SER Author Profile Page:

Ryan A,

I believe that "mag" was referring to the "Blame America First" crowd. Jane Fonda comes to mind - you know, sitting on the anti-aircraft gun in North Vietnam pretending to shoot down American pilots. Of course, this is while our (American) pilots where in Vietnamese prisons.

Mag was also talking about Walter Duranty of the NY Times (Stalin apologist). Maybe the "Sandalistas" who went to Nicaragua to help the Communists.

We could have a contest to see how many "leftists that hate America" can be named on this blog. I believe that it could get quite large.

SER,All sides have... (Below threshold)
ryan a:


All sides have their fools, no doubt about that. But my argument is that continually thinking of the "other" side in stereotypical terms certainly does not help matters.

The conservatives have their problem members, as do the liberals. The question is how each side can and should deal with the extremists within their own ranks in order to create further possibilities for dialog and mutual understanding across political lines.

Maybe a little optimistic, but I think it's a worthy thing to keep working toward. Or, on the other hand, we could all just keep attacking one another on ideological grounds.

For anyone interested:... (Below threshold)
ryan a:






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