Saturday, July 25, 2009

# Posted 8:32 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WELCOME TO GATES-GATE: When I first saw the headlines about Gates being arrested, I thought to myself, "How in the world did the Secretary of Defense get arrested?" No, not that Gates. Henry Louis Gates, of Harvard. I read the WSJ's first write-up of the story and thought to myself, "Please let this be a one-day story. Please, don't let this become a pointless racial brouhaha."

IMHO, if there are going to be a whole bunch of headlines about Gates, and there are wars going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, then those headlines should be about Robert Gates. But since they aren't, let me wade into this quagmire on the homefront.

One fact that jumps out at me right from the beginning is the background of the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley. As the AP tells it:
Cambridge Sgt. James Crowley has taught a class about racial profiling for five years at the Lowell Police Academy after being hand-picked for the job by former police Commissioner Ronny Watson, who is black, said Academy Director Thomas Fleming.

"I have nothing but the highest respect for him as a police officer. He is very professional and he is a good role model for the young recruits in the police academy," Fleming told The Associated Press on Thursday.
This would be a totally different story if Crowley didn't have that kind of background to draw on. If he could be pigeonholed as a generic cop, this would become a story about all police officers and all the problems they have.

I'm guessing President Obama might have been more restrained at Wednesday's news conference if he knew about Crowley's background. Aside from Obama's comments about the police "act[ing] stupidly", what surprises me most about what he said is simply its length -- 441 words, according to my MS Word Counter. Why give this story legs? It is a distraction from Obama's real priorities, like health care.

One final question for this post: Why did this have to become a news story in the first place? Best I can tell, four days went by between Gates' arrest and the first stories about the events. I wish that Prof. Gates and the Cambridge police could've resolved this issue before it became a national story.

Cross-posted at Conventional Folly
(2) opinions -- Add your opinion

Obama never should have been asked. Having been asked, he never should have answered. But Obama has to have an answer for everything. Better to sacrifice the very purpose of his press conference than to drop the facade of having all the answers.
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