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Obama's Juvenile Use of Power

The main problem with President Obama’s nationally televised comment about Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley had less to do with race and justice than it did with the unwise, immature application of presidential power.

Given his own background and friendship with Harvard professor Skip Gates, Obama’s immediate reaction to Gates’s arrest was understandable – he sided with a friend who felt victimized by petty authority. The facts surrounding the arrest, of course, are more complicated than that. While it is still not easy to be a black man in America, it is also, apparently, not easy for a police officer to deal with a prickly, self-important Harvard professor.

The difficulty here is not Obama’s view of the matter, which is shared by many. It is his use of the nation’s highest office to single out an American citizen for judgment and abuse, even if indirectly (speaking of the Cambridge police acting “stupidly”). Because of the immense disparity in position and power, the words of a president fall on an individual like a load of bricks – they can crush with the flick of a phrase. In this case, Obama used the power of his office with the awkwardness of a child pulling the wings off a fly he is trying to examine.

During my White House years, it was our general policy to ask permission of individuals mentioned favorably in presidential speeches. This was not mere politeness. Even the smallest mention in presidential remarks can bring a sweltering spotlight – inviting attention and scrutiny that may not be wanted. One can only imagine the sleepless nights of an average citizen disparaged in prime time by the president of the United States. It is a kind of cruelty, even if unintended.

President Obama, who understands the power of words, should have known better.

UPDATE: The president apparently called Crowley at around 2:15 this afternoon. Obama told the White House press corps afterwards that "I unfortunately, I think, gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge police department or Sgt. Crowley specifically. And I could have calibrated those words differently. And I told this to Sgt. Crowley."

By Michael Gerson  | July 24, 2009; 1:12 PM ET
Categories:  Gerson  | Tags:  Michael Gerson  
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The rightwards pundits' accusations of power intoxication of the Obama people has not meant much until this particular episode. Obama's knee-jerk response to a friend's predicament, while perhaps understandable for Joe Average, was probably better left unsaid by a President. If the facts tend to prove the officer was in the right, or more right than the professor, he may be weakened more than any Bluedog could do. Perhaps Gates would be well-advised to re-assess his own actions, and if he finds maybe he over-reacted as appears likely, perhaps he can take this off the myopic media's plate before it gets as stupid as this event also appears to be.

Posted by: stvcar | July 24, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Assuming Gerson is right about the power of a president's words, Obama was right in what he did. He pretty much did to the cop what the cop did to Gates. Thus, poetic justice.

Posted by: kenburnsidelj | July 24, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Obama is right on this one.
So shut the ..... up.
Like I said, he needs to put together a Special Squad, sort of like the Tonton Macoutes, to handle these situations, quietly, in the dead-of-night.

Posted by: Tomcat3 | July 24, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Great analysis, Michael. It's time for Americans to speak truth to pomposity.

Posted by: peterd | July 24, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

It was unpresidential.

Posted by: FLvet | July 24, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Since this is almost the only time I've ever agreed with Mr. Gerson, I suppose I feel an obligation to say so (tho' comparing the president's comment to pulling the wings off a fly goes too far). I strongly suspect the situation with Prof. Gates was one where both parties have a valid point; and where, realistically, none of us who comment can reconstruct the events step by step. But in any case, the president has only made things worse with his comment. Blessed are the peacemakers.

Posted by: Pragmatix | July 24, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

very well put, kenburnsidelj. i hadnt thought of that. indeed, gates and others don't like the sting so much. there's something about being able to dish it out but not take it . . . it's the president's discretion and he used it some may say in furtherance of ur comment. . .

anywho, the perspectives in this (potentially defining) discussion is that the perspectives follow a racial trend from my unofficial survey.

to some, they look at the situation and say, "wow, that could have been my black father, grandfather, uncle, cousin, . . . or me!!! i know the feeling all too well and it happens everyday. sorta like pornography - u know it when u see it."

others may say, "so what? u were dragged from your home in bondage, fingerprinted, photographed, and only lost four hours of your proclaimed freedom (can you say emancipation proclamation?) . . . u feel humilated, disgraced, and violated. it should be illegal for u to talk to 'him' in a manner that he deems disorderly (disrespectful); no skin off my back. good riddance and get over it."

its akin, to looking at the fact that 76% of maryland prisoners sentenced to life are black and not questioning that. see link to report below.

as a black man, i'm not convinced that even america's no.1 could avoid speaking his own truth on this one and i am convinced that it is his perspective that spoke to him when he deemed it a matter of national signifigance and presidential priority.

abraham lincoln and lyndon johnson are lauded for wading in similar waters.

best regards.

Posted by: discourse | July 24, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

If he had dodged the question and said nothing you would be on his case for that. There is no common ground for you hypocrits on the right. The officer acted "stupidly" by handcuffing and arresting an old black man who wouldn't shut up when he was told to.

Posted by: ccclam | July 24, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

What President Obama said is NOT "juvenile". Rather, what the barney fife wannabe cop did was indeed WAY out of line. Had he bothered to POLITELY ask Dr. Gates for his ID and then realized he made a mistake and then PROPERLY apologized to him, there would not be a problem.

However, the "officer" decided to play big-time sheriff and only ends up being the childish one here. Had HE been arrested for being in his own home, I would imagine he'd be upset too.

Posted by: Alex511 | July 24, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

It ain't as if he vacated the sentence of someone who leaked the identity of a spy, like your old boss did, huh Mikey?

Or spinning and framing intelligence to fit a predetermined outcome?

Or use the justice department as an extension of the white house political office?

I'm sure you're as well versed as anyone in unwise, immature use of executive power.

Posted by: IndiePendants | July 24, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

For once a President says it like it is and you complain?

No wonder you're a failure.

Posted by: onestring | July 24, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Beats invading a country because "they tried to kill my dad".

Posted by: news5 | July 24, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

But Gerson's love-fixation, Bush, who was the only human being callow enough to give him a political job, NEVER performed any "...unwise, immature application of presidential power" did he?

Right Gerson?

Obama's defense of a fellow academic against a racist-oriented police regime is MUCH WORSE than Bush's lies, manipulation, and fraud in going to war in Iraq -- and of course, Bush's tapping of American phones and 'Attorneys General Duck-shoot' was conversely a 'wise, mature, application of presidential power.' Right?

Gerson I'd really like to take a close look at your resume to see if that college degree you claim to hold is really from 'Diplomas R Us' on eBay.

It would certainly make sense, since you certainly don't -- and never have.

Another fringe-right wingnut @sshat with a 'Let's Bash B'lack Obama "job"' at the WaPo. Disgusting, useless, arrogant tripe.


Posted by: Frank57 | July 24, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

But Gerson's love-fixation, Bush, who was the only human being callow enough to give him a political job, NEVER performed any "...unwise, immature application of presidential power" did he?

Right Gerson?

Obama's defense of a fellow academic against a racist-oriented police regime is MUCH WORSE than Bush's lies, manipulation, and fraud in going to war in Iraq -- and of course, Bush's tapping of American phones and 'Attorneys General Duck-shoot' was conversely a 'wise, mature, application of presidential power.' Right?

Gerson I'd really like to take a close look at your resume to see if that college degree you claim to hold is really from 'Diplomas R Us' on eBay.

It would certainly make sense, since you certainly don't -- and never have.

Another fringe-right wingnut @sshat with a 'Let's Bash B'lack Obama "job"' at the WaPo. Disgusting, useless, arrogant tripe.


Posted by: Frank57 | July 24, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

The President's comments were probably unwarranted only because we, the public, would have been spared more nonsense from people like Mr. Gerson. What is juvenile, however, is the reaction by this police officer who, apparently, arrested Mr. Gates only because he couldn't stand that a private citizen in his own home dared to raise his voice before him. Juvenile and arrogant. And misinformed. Since when was a lack of deference to a police officer in one's own home grounds for arrest? Perhaps in Mr. Gerson's now long-forgotten version of America, not mine.

Posted by: jaysit | July 24, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

If an one should know about "JUVENILE BEHAVIOR", it would be Mr. Greson. After all he was the 'FORMER SPEECH WRITER EX-PRESIDENT BUSH.

That would make him in many 'CIRCLES', an 'EXPERT' in dealing with "CHILDISH BEHAVIOR."

DEMOGORGONS like Greson are a 'CANCER' to Society.

Posted by: austininc4 | July 24, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

The President should apologize to the Cambridge PD ASAP and move on.

Posted by: misty2 | July 24, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Obama lost a lot of my respect. I could not believe my ears when he did not mention how Gates grew beligerant and was warned before being arrested. The way Obama described it was that Gates showed his ID and was then arrested. That is not only an abuse of power, it is an outright lie.

I'm so disappointed in Obama right now. I am disheartened. Obama would ruin a person's career to save face for a friend with a huge ego.

Obama must apologize and put the burden of shame on Gates where it belongs. Or else Obama loses my support.

Posted by: NotNowMooky | July 24, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Obama refuses to apologize. Fine, the officer should sue him.

The president has no business in cramming the race card down an officer's throat. He needs to be called on this one.

This is an arrogant race punk. That was clear before and it is clear now.

Racism is alive and well - and emanating from the white house.

Maybe Obama could explain why the black panthers were not prosecuted by his black AG.

Seems he is aiming for a "black liberation" dominated America.

Thats not going to go well with level headed people.

Posted by: VirginiaConservative | July 24, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

"Should have known better"? As I have always believed, one can be book smart yet lack common sense. This time his arrogance slipped out & he sounded like an idiot!

Posted by: cdemar | July 24, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Right. Cheney would've shot somebody and Bush would've declared war on Cambridge, Mass.

Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | July 24, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe how many conservatives are siding with the police on this (well, I guess I can, since most of them are partisan Republicans, i.e., not conservative at all). This is a free country, and the Bill of Rights is designed to protect us from being hassled by police when we're not doing anything wrong. Sure, Gates probably saw race immediately (he is, after all, a black American who was raised in the era of segregation) and may indeed be "self-important" (I don't know many West Virginians who are, but who knows), but those things are not crimes at all, and they're certainly not "disorderly conduct" that should have led to his being cuffed in front of his neighbors and hauled off to be booked and thrown in jail. The police action here was stupid, and it was a waste of time, and if they appear to be racist as a result, they deserve it for their stupidity. Impoliteness and disagreement with "authority" (and here I thought the people were the authority in this nation) might be less-than-admirable, but they're not crimes!
I'm also astonished by how many "conservatives" are suggesting that the officers sue Obama -- I thought mindless, overly-offended litigiousness was the Democrats' trade.

Posted by: justin_timberwolf | July 24, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

By making his comments, Obama may have made it impossible for Gates to seek and kind of damages or have the officer brought to court. It could be said that Obama has made it impossible for a court to seat a jury that is not prejudice based upon what the President said. Dumb move. For this reason, I believe Presidents in the past have recognized the weight that their words may have on a court and have refused to give their opinion on a matter that may end up in court.

Posted by: ahashburn | July 24, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Obama is the President of the United States and the leader of the world. Also, a Harvard Law graduate and a former law professor.

Crowley is a just a sergeant in the Cambridge Police Department.

Obama is under the highest standard of world statesmanship; while Crowley is just under the standard of good police behavior.

Indeed, when much is given, much is required.

Or shall we say, "Power corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Posted by: er1231 | July 24, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Why is not suprising that the night after the president makes a 50 minute case for his health care plan, the only thing the hyper-partisans on the right like the above writer can talk about is an aside given during the conference that has absolutely no bearing on anything?

It's patently ludicrious for a former Bush speechwriter to talk about "spotlighting indivduals as abuses of presidential power". Wasn't his former boss the man who made a special show of interfering in the Terri Shaivo matter purely to score political points with the base?

Posted by: jbanks979 | July 24, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Childish use of power? No doubt Obama could have put it differently. However I remind you Mr. G, instead of a make-believeve ton of bricks, your braindead ex-boss used tons of real bombs on hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

Just keep talking. You get better all the time.

Posted by: bruceharris | July 24, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Here we go, the wingnuts see another opportunity to score points against Obama, but I bet Obama comes out on top again. Gerson has the temerity to talk about how things were handled during his own White House years, but we know how things were handled back then: crooks breaking the law, lying to the American people, illegaly invading foreign countries, flouting the constitution, torturing prisoners. What Obama said in his press conference was right on! The police acted stupidly. It's a new era, folks.

Posted by: gposner | July 24, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

For those of you applauding Obama's extremely poor judgment in singling out the police officer in defense of his black friend , how do you explain his statements today that he used a poor choice of words and that BOTH men may have overreacted ?

The 911 tapes and reports by a Latino and black police officer at the scene backs up the white cop. But, in playing the race card at every opportunity, why would Obama care for the facts.

And as an added note, do you honestly think Obama went to a news conference when this first happening without knowing exactly was transpired ? Give me a break. He was just pandering for more minority votes for the future. I find it doubtful his motives were so pure as some try to portray them.

Posted by: tinyt55 | July 24, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm as big an Obama supporter as you'll find, but it's clear he made a mistake in answering that last question the way he did. The problem centers around his use of the word "stupidly"; if he'd chosen another word, or phrase such as "overreacted", then this controversy probably wouldn't exist. Better yet, he should simply have avoided answering the question.

But to try to score points by characterizing mischosen words as "juvenile" goes too far, and is rather rich, coming from a columnist who worked for a president who misplaced words so many times, there are entire books and even websites dedicated to the man's savage butchery of the English language.

An incident at the G8 summitt in 2006 might also be instructive. At that time, I'm sure Mr. Gerson recalls, Mr. Bush walked up to the already-seated German Chancellor Merkel, and proceeded to give her an uninvited, and clearly unwanted, "Texas-style" shoulder rub. The whole thing is on video, and is available on-line to anyone who cares to see it.

It would to be argue that Bush's behavior that day was anything but "juvenile". And I do not recall Mr. Gerson or any of his colleagues expressing similar outrage at the time.

Posted by: Gladiator2008 | July 24, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Gosh Gerson, how do you live with yourself? Obama had a "juvenile use of power", while you worked for a juvenile that was the president. I'm white and you embarass me. When was the last time you were confronted in your living room by a police officer and asked to provide ID? Somehow I think words would be said. But then folks like you that believe in a police state would probably do whatever you were told to do. All he would have to have said was, "Sorry, national security".

Posted by: mty917 | July 24, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Obama attacked a public servant who was doing his job as best he could. Then, to top it, he refused to give an honest apology.

People who refuse to apologize when they act poorly and knowingly offend someone are generally a pain in the ass.

Posted by: Joe_in_Raleigh | July 24, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I guess you're contrasting his "unwise, immature application of presidential power" with the wise and mature application of journalistic power to set the national debate exercised by your close colleague Lynn Sweet in injecting the idiotic, even stupid, actions of McCrowley into a press conference dealing with how we manage 1/6th of the national economy

Posted by: jmacone | July 24, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Obama certainly exposed his ignorance and lack of experience. His likeable "confidence" usually shrouds those aspects.

Posted by: buzzsaw1 | July 24, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Let's all just agree: Arresting a man in his one home for breaking in is a pretty stupid act and a waste of good will and public funds.
Second item: It was a pretty stupid thing of the President to say so on prime time TV
Third item: It is great to have some humanity and candor back in the White House.

Posted by: LPhilo | July 24, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for posting that link to the latest POTUS press conference.
Everybody, read what President Obama said. I'm pleased with it. It makes me proud to be an American, that our head of state would make a point of publicly backing down (somewhat) to a nobody cop in Cambridge (who was by no means entirely without fault). And I don't mean that ironically or sarcastically. You'd never see this in Russia or China, and probably not even in most of Europe. In many countries, that cop would already be dead.
Obama has once again made me like him on a personal level, and admire him as a politician and statesman, even though I disagree with so many of his policies that I could never vote for him.

Posted by: dmm1 | July 24, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

You know pomposit all right. As I said the other day you are fat and have bad haircut and the sooner the WaPo gets rid of you and Kristol the better.
Kristol knew he had to leave NYT before they threw him out.
Ann Bier

Posted by: jimsbier | July 24, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

How can someone be arrested becaused they offended a police officer? Since the charges were dismissed, it appears as if the officer did not have a justifiable reason for arresting Mr. Gates. As we have all been taught in childhood, if you are confronted by someone rising their voice, you should walk away. The officer stated that he displayed his handcuffs in an attempt to get Mr. Gates to calm down. Now answer this: how many adults will calm down when threaten as Mr. Gates was by the showing of handcuffs in your own home? Not many if you have any sense of worth. Mr. Gates initial demeanor could have been better. However, he never threaten the officer phyically or verbally, but was arrested because the officer did not like the tone of his voice or accusation of racial profiling.

Let's think about this in the larger context. Were the officers that beat Rodney King justified. NO! Were the officer justified in New York that killed an innocent black man leaving his bacholar Party? NO! What about the officers that killed the black man on the subway in Oakland. NO! But all the incidents, and many more, occurred because the officers felt justified at the time.

Posted by: ItsLikeThat | July 24, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I am sure Gerson has such respect for the words used by the President. He would know as Bush's speechwriter how carefully the President should be when he speaks... about stuff like the axis of evil, a mushroom cloud, yellowcake uranium, etc.

Posted by: steveboyington | July 24, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Obama is an AH who called the cop stupid, smeared the police department, demeaned Boston and all people of good will.

Posted by: naughtonjj | July 24, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

You don't know anything about hardship in this country you pasty marshmallow puff. Stick to what you know....subterfuge to get right wing idiots to support illegal wars and tax breaks for the ultra rich.

Posted by: theobserver4 | July 24, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

See, the Right understands you have to support cops ALL THE TIME, like Giuliani did with Abner Louima or the Diallo cases. Wait, those were white cops and black immigrant victims... let me rephrase that. The Right knows you have to play to your base at all times, guilt or innocence. The Right and talk radio is doing that just now in this matter.

Posted by: steveboyington | July 24, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

You have a lot of nerve, Gerson, you pos. After eight years of horrendous abuse of power, you suddenly develope some delicate sensiblities.

How very convenient.

Posted by: arancia12 | July 24, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

44 is only taking it back because of the stink it stirred. some things you cant take back. the with what rule you use to measure you should be measured by. Could a white take it back or would it be irreversible view of hatred that seered its ugly head. All I am saying is stop playing this card, when all it is, is a play. And yes times are a changing so its probably looseing its trump.

Posted by: Rvf0509 | July 24, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Obama refuses to apologize. Fine, the officer should sue him.

The president has no business in cramming the race card down an officer's throat. He needs to be called on this one.

This is an arrogant race punk. That was clear before and it is clear now.

Racism is alive and well - and emanating from the white house.

Maybe Obama could explain why the black panthers were not prosecuted by his black AG.

Seems he is aiming for a "black liberation" dominated America.

Thats not going to go well with level headed people.

Posted by: VirginiaConservative

My first response to the above post was to laugh. My second was to cringe. This is the kind of rational person that voted for Bush...twice.

Sue Mr. Obama over what? Look up the definitions of slander and libel before you play those cards.

So how does it feel, little man, to experience racism? You don't like it? Then you should be able to imagine how people of color have felt in this country for 200 years. We'll just skip over the fact there is nothing rascist in President Obama's statement but there sure is in yours.

Are you a representative of "level-headed" people? Hate to break this to're not. You're not level-headed and only representative of hot-headed, scared, little men.

Posted by: arancia12 | July 24, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Gates is a nasty know-it-all man who is used to abusing students..............maybe, he forgot he was in the real world.

Posted by: rusty3 | July 24, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

The President should have done the same as his predecessor: stubbornly stood his ground and not admitted a mistake.

Spoken so well as a Bush speechwriter.

Posted by: BillS1 | July 24, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

My god, the arrogance of Worm Boy Gerson, who used to write speeches for the Worst President In History.

Why does the Post give this cheap GOP hack a paycheck? Why isn't Gerson down at the nearest VA hospital, begging forgiveness from the veterans wounded in the Iraq war, which he helped lie us into?

Obama is the superior of the Idiot Boy King Bush in every way, and we all know it. All we have here is another failed Republican getting job welfare from the Post.

Posted by: losthorizon10 | July 24, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

JERK! President Obama is not juvenile but you are to put that in people's heads. How tiny you are-baby huey!

Posted by: Scar1 | July 24, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

We are blesses to have a President who understands the power of humility. Blinded by ego, those on the right will never understand this. That is why they live in a world of insecurity, captives of their own ego and arrogance. Having suffered under such narrow-mindedness for the last eight years, it is refreshing to know the power of the truth is again at play in the White House.

Thank you for your leadership, President Obama.

Posted by: mmax | July 24, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Gerson I think what you and everyone else are missing is that the President said he wasn't there and he did not know all of the facts, however, once Prof. Gates showed the Officer his Harvard I.D. and License with all of his information listed on it, than the Officer should have apoligized and left. But, one would think with all of the reports coming out this week regarding the Officer's training in racial profiling, as well as his Police background and training he should have been able to handle this situation better than he did.

Mr. Obama inferred that the situation was stupid and had cooler heads prevailed, we would not be writing our comments.

In addition, I have not read your column often, however, clearly your statements trying to compare your White House years working for a President and Vice President like Bush and Chaney who robbed this country blind, who sent our sons, daughters, husbands and wives etc. to fight another senseless war and are totally responsible for the state of our economy is ridiculous. There is no comparison.

I am glade to see someone in the "White House" with the guts to start this dialogue about race relations in the good old USA. In a recent Poll that I watched last night on CNN they stated that 7% of White Americans didn't think there was a problem with racial profiling and 55% of African Americans and other ethic groups did. What does that say to you? To me it says we have a serious problem. I have worked for 30 years in "Corporate America" and have heard totally by accident the way some "White Americans" refer to African Americans behind closed doors and it is apalling.

I pray for this entire Country and yes, people like like you to who walk around with blinders on every day. God's heart must have so many wounds from all of the ugly words and hateful ways we treat each other. Bottom line President Obama owes no one an apology and stop taking his words out of context.

Posted by: ConcernedTempleHillsMD | July 24, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

How "Christian" neocons hate it when someone makes a mistake and tries to fix it. In their warped, cherry-picked Leviticus, RNC Fox News world, they never apologize or admit any error and, like blood sucking leeches, jump on anyone who does.

I would rather have a President like Obama who acknowledges his mistakes and tries to make amends for them, than Herr Gerson's Lord Cheney who has never, on record, admitted he made a mistake or apologized (PR spinned, passive voice, "mistakes were made" aren't included)

Posted by: coloradodog | July 24, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

woops, I was wrong and I apologize.
Cheney is on record for apologizing about a crude remark he made about West Virginia. My bad.

Posted by: coloradodog | July 24, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Here's a news flash! Everyone sees in this incident what his experience has conditioned him to see and what political persuasion inclines him to see.

Gates sees a racial profiler. Justified? Maybe, maybe not, but certainly beyond my experience as a middle-aged WASP male. Consequently beyond my (likely, yours too!) ability to judge.

Cop sees a rude and overbearing guy using abusive language. I don't know if Gates being black had anything to do with it or not. Officer says it does not.

Obama sees a friend and to some extent, shares "racial" experience with Gates. Opens mouth, lives to regret it.

Gerson sees Obama, who must be guilty of SOME egregious and heinous crime against humanity (here, abuse of power) simply because Obama is, well, Obama and not George W. Bush.

What should we see? Well, this has touched some raw nerve ends (we all have plenty of those these days), but in the end let's see this for what it is: a tempest in a teapot.

Next question . . .

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | July 24, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Without a shadow of a doubt --- no one considers Henry Gates, Jr to be a scholar --- he is a racist.

Gates should receive a 2 year prison sentence - with absolutely zero - zip and zilch chance of parole.

Sgt. James Crowley should immediately sue Baracky Hussein Obama and Deval Patrick for $100 million each - for defamation of character and mental anguish.

Posted by: hclark1 | July 24, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

First of all, everyone has a right to their own opinion even the POTUS.

Second, President Obama was right.

Posted by: lindalovejones | July 24, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

TO: hclark1 who wrote:
"Without a shadow of a doubt --- no one considers Henry Gates, Jr to be a scholar --- he is a racist.
Gates should receive a 2 year prison sentence - with absolutely zero - zip and zilch chance of parole.
Sgt. James Crowley should immediately sue Baracky Hussein Obama and Deval Patrick for $100 million each - for defamation of character and mental anguish."

There you are folks. Your classic, racist, wacko right wing Republican psycho.

No one considers Gates to be a scholar?
Well, he's a Professor at Harvard.

2 years in prison, without even breaking any law?
Yeah, you're a racist.

Sue the President, for defamation?
I think the Officer defamed himself when he admitted he arrested Gates for nothing more than pissing him off.

Posted by: lindalovejones | July 24, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Michael Gerson, the former Bush speechwriter, yes, speechwriter, has to lecture me on what's "juvenile?" Shame on the Post for giving this man a platform.

Posted by: harper-d | July 24, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Gerson, you are a piece of human garbage.

Go lecture somebody who cares about "juvenile" behavior. You live in a consequence&conscience-free zone where you lies to the American people and the resulting thousands dead don't matter.

Why does the WaPo continue to pay this sleazy, greasy snake?

I spit on you.

Posted by: info23 | July 24, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Both Gates and Obama reveal themselves to be deeply troubled and paranoid. I don't care about Gates but Obama is the president of the country and that character trait is not what we need in a president.

Posted by: alstl | July 24, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Michael Gerson is a reptile.

Posted by: info23 | July 24, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Obama was wrong on this - I think he got angry and spoke off the cuff.

However, I am not going to accept having a sleazebag like Gerson lecture any of us on the power of words. This is the guy who wrote speeches for Bush that maligned millions of Americans as appeasers, defeatists, and socialists. He never gave of us the courtesy of a phone call in advance

Posted by: maggots | July 24, 2009 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Is there no grown-ups at WaPo?

No one to publish the adolescent
Gerson with columns like this?

My God, let's hope the regression to
childishness exhibited is just this
failing newspaper...keeping the cheapest (in many ways) of the writers.

Writing inflammatory things to get lots of screaming posters...therefore calling themsleves widely read and important.

Like Kristol...who gets 98% detestation...and who writes on.
It is Bonkers.

Posted by: whistling | July 24, 2009 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Both Gates and Obama reveal themselves to be deeply troubled and paranoid. I don't care about Gates but Obama is the president of the country and that character trait is not what we need in a president.

Posted by: alstl | July 24, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse


Obama is not paranoid - that your psychobabble viewpoint. He made a mistake and corrected it. When did Bush ever admit a mistake, let alone correct it?

Posted by: maggots | July 24, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

This is another example of Michael Gerson's juvenile use of his column.

It's so boring to see a column whose direction is known ahead of time.

Posted by: dicka1 | July 24, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Obama, doing the Wright thing.

Posted by: shewholives | July 24, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

I haven't seen any complaints here at the WaPo about Cheney's CIA Assassination Squads, so I assume that's NOT an abuse of power.
SO I PROPOSE that President Obama needs to start exercising his power in a more "macho" way that every Neocon and white-winger can appreciate.
Juvenile? No one would ever say that about a U.S. version of Papa Doc's TONTON MACOUTES.
It would be Obama's SPECIAL OPs team, composed of specially chosen members of the U.S. Marines and former Blackwater employees.
This TOP SECRET squad of underground operatives would be a much more effective (and LESS juvenile) way for the president to exercise his TRUE POWER.
Don't forget, Mr. Gerson, you have NO PROBLEM with the president being able to lock up ANYONE, at ANYTIME, for no reason at all. No lawyers, no notice, you just disappear!

Posted by: Tomcat3 | July 24, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

How come the Republican Jews seem to want to destroy America.?

Posted by: orionexpress | July 24, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Michael Gerson is a reptile.

Watch his mouth parts move. He makes noises out of his oral orifice, but really he is has no feelings.

Posted by: info23 | July 24, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

I find myself in agreement with Mr. Gerson. Though, in general, I find myself reassured with some signs that President Obama has failings :). In general, I am pretty awed by him as a person. I can't really empathize with him, or Mr. Gates - I am a WASP male - though to some extent I can sympathize with them. I can't imagine living a life where things like "driving while black" are simple realities - despite having workmates who have been pulled over so many times that I have lost count - for no reason.

Racial profiling is quite alive and well - and its pressure on anyone under it must be immense.

Posted by: iamweaver | July 24, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

So refreshing to read a middle-aged white conservative male lecturing on race relations.

Posted by: Skeptikos | July 24, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Quite a drama by "No Drama Obama".

Posted by: kisna | July 24, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Great to read a middle-aged white conservative pontificating on race.

Posted by: Skeptikos | July 24, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Yeah Gerson, we also know a president's words can fall like bombs on a country. Just ask the Iraqis

Posted by: OldManTalking | July 24, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, its almost like calling the Cambridge Police Department the "Axis of Evil". All we need now is to have Biden tell us the Cambridge Police were involved in 9-11 and mention a wood shampoo here or there and then we start our invasion, and .... oh, sorry, I was thinking about something else...actually I was very proud of the way Obama handled the matter today and I made sure my children learned from him. He's actually a great role model. Sure beats killing people and spending a trillion dollars for your supposed mistakes. Of all people Gerson you (can of course the rest of the Bushies) need today's lesson the most. I hope you get it.

Posted by: jryan758 | July 24, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

It's hilarious to see some political hack like Gerson, gunning to be America's Julius Streicher, accuse others of perpetrating the crimes of his boss.

When all one has is nerve, one uses it. Too bad they didn't have any common sense, common decency, or compassion for those who were burned alive, blasted apart, killed in their own homes during Shock and Awe, . . to refer to a REAL abuse of power.

Posted by: gkam | July 24, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Bottom line, if President Obama were not Black, the question would never have been asked at a Presidential Press Conference ... and that is proof of the racism in this country. Why was this question even asked? And since it was, I admire President Obama for honestly answering it rather than blow it off.

Posted by: paris1969 | July 24, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Being elected President does not mean they lose their 1st. amendment rights, to disassociate with long term friends and or scholars.

A month ago Lil'o was being vilified by the right for not using more inflammatory language in dealing with the elections in Iran, now he speaks up over a perceived wrong at the hands of a police officer and you just want him to shut up, act as if nothing is wrong at all, maybe he should have said every thing is peachy in America, with just a few clouds here and there.

It's O.K. for him to help a homeless woman get a house, but not to defend his friend.

Republicans got involved in the Gonzales
private matter down in Florida, and turned it into a national fiasco, then they got involved in a family matter in the terri schiavo matter, and even passed a bill!

When it comes to micro-managing private personal lives , nobody does it like a republican.!

Posted by: victorlove1 | July 24, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

I do wish Mr. Gates would sit down and shut up. I have heard enough and it is time for someone to tell Gates to shut up.

Posted by: bigtruck1 | July 24, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

out of the mouths of babes--

President Obama spoke the truth
and today he tamped down the rhetoric -

Let's have a black police officer go to Michael Gerson's home, not explain he was there from a 911 call. Mr Gerson just got back from the airport after a flight from China. His driver was there. There are photos all over the house and although annoyed Mr. Gerson shoes the officer his ID.

Maybe Mr. Gerson is a bit annoyed - but this is a case of who has the remote! Who has the power so the black police officer tells Mr. Gerson (who needs a cane to walk - hypothetically)
to step outside -- solely for the purpose of arresting him'

Mr. Gerson gets arrested - still in his polo short from the flight - with his luggage at the door that he clearly just arrived home - not only arrested but handcuffed and taken to the police station and booked fingerprint, mug shots etc

This is a humiliating moment for a proud man
Mr. Gerson considers himself a scholar - someone who has written extensively.

The arrest is AFTER his identity is firmed proven.
Let's here from Mr. Gerson--

Do you think he would be a little upset?

Posted by: awb75 | July 24, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Where was Mr. Gerson when Bush administration outed Valerie Plame? At least, President Obama realized his mistake and called Sergeant Crowley to offer his regret. I am very proud of our President beacuse of the way he handled this situation. I was watching the news today and I was surprised to see our President on TV talking to the country about this issue. I wish President Bush had called Ms. Plame to offer his regret.

Posted by: addc2006 | July 25, 2009 12:16 AM | Report abuse

It was a stupid question by a woman reporter, showing that women have no reason being in the press room. I watched the conference because I wanted to learn more about the health care program, not about some Harvard Professor.

Let's keep it real.

Posted by: santafe2 | July 25, 2009 1:31 AM | Report abuse

There was a time when the Washington Post was a great newspaper.

It is a shame that it has forsaken serious journalism for neocon propagandists like Gerson, Kristol and Krauthammer.

Does the Washington Post print this provocative drivel to generate clicks, or because it actually believes in it?

Posted by: PaulG2 | July 25, 2009 2:22 AM | Report abuse

I think a more "juvenile" use of pres. power would include:

Tap dancing in front of the white house, inappropriately touching the PM of germany...oh, and overstating the case against a country so you can invade it because they fought with your meal ticket/daddy.

Posted by: kreator6996 | July 25, 2009 5:19 AM | Report abuse

Two prominent black men plus the entire liberal media ganging up on one white guy. I wouldn't want to be Crowley right now.

Posted by: DarkMatter | July 25, 2009 5:21 AM | Report abuse

Both the officer & professor had a point but the officer was responding to a call, not and insignificant one either. Sorting out truth & fiction was difficult in the heated exchange. Now it's tit for tat, a la kenburnside, making mountains outa mole hills.

Posted by: Mecarswell | July 25, 2009 6:47 AM | Report abuse

Teachable moment, yes: don't first assume the cop is racist, and ask questions later. The exact opposite might be the case.

Posted by: hearmenowbml | July 25, 2009 7:23 AM | Report abuse

We cannot and should not realistically expect too much from President Obama. He is in fact learning on the job. Say, twenty years from now, he will be an accomplished diplomat.

Posted by: johnson0572 | July 25, 2009 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Well said, IndiePendants. And if we're talking about speaking out of line, how about that idiot Ronald Reagan's joke about nuking the Soviets while the tape was rolling and the mike was open? Was THAT presidential, or was it juvenile?

Posted by: lldemats | July 25, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Someone said, "Gates saw race" in how Crowley treated him. But there was no racist treatment to see. It was all projection/assumption by Gates. Read the police report, and then read Gates's account on one of several sites. (Or read Gates's first. No dif.) If you still think Gates was acting halfway decently, find a mental institution and get yourself admitted.

Posted by: yourstruly1991 | July 25, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

I agree, look what happened when Gerson and his boss George crushed tens of thousands of lives with the phrase "weapons of mass destruction".


Posted by: DEFJAX | July 25, 2009 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Let's see, now; who was the most "juvenile" president ever? Question answers itself, doesn't it, Rev. Mike?

Posted by: misterjrthed | July 25, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Obama apparently has apologized already.
"Juvenile" was Dubya's misuse of military power -- notably his invasion of Iraq.
"Criminal" might also apply.

Gerson knows about both: the curious mixture of 'juvenile and criminal,' in the Bush White House.

Posted by: Marcaurelius | July 25, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

When Lynn Sweet raised that "stupid" question in the Healthcare Reform press conference, the president should have said "Skip is a personal friend of mine & I don't know all the details. So I don't want to comment about it now. Do you have a healthcare related question?".
By answering that question in great detail, he gave fodder to creatures like Rush Limbau. It was an other "cling to gun & religion" moment.

Posted by: sarvenk63 | July 25, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

no one has the right to make a comment unless they were there and saw what occured. Presidnet included

Posted by: jlk511 | July 25, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Obama never mis-speaks. His comments were carefully calibrated for the Black audience. Obama won the election by playing the race card from day one, but in his usual passive-aggressive manner he and his Sunday morning talk show surrogates turned it around against the whites. Now with his popularity plummeting Obama is again inflaming racism in America so he doesn't lose his 98% Black base. Watch for his surrogates to make the rounds Sunday morning to stir up the base and continue to widen the racial divide for political gain.

Posted by: sh3149 | July 25, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Above all, what's striking to me is this president's willingness to accept responsibility for mistakes, his willingness to admit when he's wrong. After nearly a decade of living under a president who thought himself to be infallible, this is a refreshing change.

Posted by: JMinSF | July 25, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Gerson, if anything, is soft-balling this story, he's dodging the issues. Obama's remarks were racist, full stop. He simply assumed that the cop and the department he works for were wrong and he assumed it only because the cop is white and Gates is black (You only have to look at the seething racist hatred of whites sprinkled among the remarks here to see the white-hating ideology that prevails on the left). It brings to mind his throwing of his white grandmother under the bus during the campaign. His grandmother's fear of black men was justified by the reality of black violence in general and black on white violence in particular, especially the reality of interracial rape in this country, and Obama fully understood these realities when he made the callous attack on his own grandmother. He was lying when he pretended not to, as he has been lying with his silence on the issue of non-white on white violence his whole life. His remarks on both issues came from racist, knee-jerk ideology, not the facts.

Posted by: jarrod82b | July 25, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Gerson's comments are spot on.
Obama's quote: "I unfortunately, I think, gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge police department or Sgt. Crowley specifically. And I could have calibrated those words differently. And I told this to Sgt. Crowley."
Oh, please! Obama screwed up big time with his statment and his subsequent obfuscation of his previous statment. Obama spoke stupidly.

Posted by: SkiFanatic | July 25, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Obama's ego matches Gates ego. Since the president acknowledged he did not know the facts, he should have stayed out of the fray.

As a result, his health care campaign has come to a screeching halt while he engages in a school yard distraction.

Posted by: Kansas28 | July 25, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Gerson commenting on 'juvenile use of power'. At last, Gerson writes an article in an area of his expertise.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | July 25, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

WHEN DID THE LEFT STOP STICKING UP FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS UNION MEMBER AVERAGE JOE AND PROTECT THE RICH WELL CONNECTED INSTEAD? Its so tragic that HERR PROFESSOR was arrested for what amounts to less of a crime than a parking ticket at Wally World. OH GOD that poor poor well connected, rich, I am friends with the most powerful man in the world professor. Sad thing is there are many people that are suffering at the hand of racism WHITE AND BLACK and this ELITIST SLOB thinks that HIS DOESN'T STINK? What do you suppose he wanted the poor slubs badge number and name for to send him a thank you card. I bet you dollars to doughnuts (no pun intended) it was to give to make sure this cop wised he never bothered such a superior man of letters. ABOUT RACE???? its about a professor that had to save face because his was plastered on the evening news and we CANT HAVE THAT!!!!!!We call the police heroes when they die in 9/11 or at a holocaust museum AS WE SHOULD but go agaist a well connected RICH POWERFUL CAN CALL CNN OR ABC OR CBS BECAUSE THEY KNOW ME or buddy Obama and some how its seen as the police officer was ABUSING HIS POWER??????OH sure I bet Gates wants to see if he can make this working stiffs job any more a nightmare. I guess the police and fire men are heroes until they go after a professor. IT NEVER WAS ABOUT THE PROFESSORS RACE BTWWhat VP of the networks did he KNOW and CALL to facilitate the OUTRAGE and HEADLINES.PIGS and SNOBS and I don't mean the police!!!!!!! I have sympathy for this cop and as much for every black man, woman and child that thinks they voted for change or that GATES has their best interest at heart.This is the wost case REAL ABUSE OF POWER in a generation and people are still rooting for the POWER?I would stand side by side with any man black or white but I have l ZERO respect for a man who claims to fight for the middle class but has such a knee jerk reaction AGAINST A POLICE OFFICER TO STICK UP FOR HIS IVY LEAGUE FRIEND. LEFT FOR THE LITTLE GUY? HA HA HA FRICKING HA. I want to vomit thinking about it.

Posted by: DavidfromWI | July 26, 2009 4:12 AM | Report abuse

There was no "racial profiling" concerning Gates arrest and incident justified or unjustified does not make it racial. To refer otherwise is just political grandstanding by Obama and his buddy Gates.

Mr. Gates should take a course on behavioural and anger management for his obvious anti-white attitudes, which he clearly displayed during and after this incident.

He should further take the officers course in racial profiling. Only then will Gates himself learn a lesson from his own arrest and have a better understanding about racial profiling in America from another prospective which I am sure he would find enormously gratifying.

It was, it is and it shall remain all about Gates and his friend Obama.

When these two understand that they already live in a society in which ‘equal justice before law' is a lived reality and not go around with attitudes that attempt to place themselves above the laws incident, such as this might not happen in America.

Obama has clearly proven and shown to all that the Presidency is a position that is far above his pay grade and Mr. Gates and Obama owe an open apology to the police officer, police forces throughout the country and the American people.

Posted by: peterclarke1 | July 26, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Prof Gates and Obama share more than friendship. Prof's attorney was O's and Mrs O's mentor. Information is out there.
They are closer then two peas in a pod.
Obama has shown his true colors.
Sad for a nation that had so much "hope" in him.

Posted by: goofynana | July 26, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

"Juvenile Use of Power?" Maybe Mr. Obama should have invaded a country for no good reason, which a better use of power in Gerson's eyes.

Posted by: wiatrol | July 27, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

"Juvenile" is an interesting adjective to use when "stupid" would undoubtedly provide a better fit. I agree that Obama made a mistake. Gerson just jumps on the opportunity like a toy poodle on a meaty bone - all reckless abandon and little substance. This is from the same man, remember, that gave lines to the same man who said "I am the decider." The reader must always take Gerson's words in the context of his political affiliation and history. He is still desperately trying to justify those words that he wrote for a man who failed us. I appreciate the criticism. I cannot appreciate the source.

Posted by: raiffer | July 27, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

The police need to start wearing recording devices and start recording their public encounters like they do with dash cams. Dash cams have led to the convictions of a lot of bad guys who would have lied their way out of trouble. They've also cost some cops their jobs because their misguided actions. We can call them Gates cams.

In the Gate's case I think the radio transmissions, if released, will show the world what really happened.

Crawley would be a fool to go the White House.

Posted by: teddybear3 | July 27, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

The police, indeed, acted stupidly. The president call a spade a spade, that's all.
My questions are: 1)If the police were black, would we be hearing the same criticism from Gerson and the general public who were and are making them? 2)
If the incident happened with the change in skin color - white Gates, black Crowly, and white Obama, what kind of outcries would have buzzed around the country? 3)
Can Americans be matured enough to have real discussion on race issues at all?

Posted by: olnpvx | July 27, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

The President was right. There is no reason for the police to handcuff and perp-walk Mr. Gates after he established that he was the resident of the house. A police officer that trained others in racial profiling certainly should have been able to handle this problem better. There was no reason for the arrest.

Why aren't the stay out of my life evil government libertarians all over this? I guess their principles are flexible depending on the situation. Typical.

Posted by: NotFooledTX | July 27, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

You wrote speeches for a juvenile, Mr. Gerson. Are you the one responsible for all the screw ups of thought and the malaprops? The use of the adverb, stupidly, was not smart on Obama's part and I cringed when I heard it becasue I knew that he had just given the right days if not weeks of talking points and over reaction. A Republican congressman is going to introduce a resolution on the floor today that demands that Obama formally apologize to policemen and women far and near. They will milk it for all it is worth. Obama tried to walk his comment back on Friday, but the bell had already been rung. Lesson learned, I am sure.

Posted by: creatia52 | July 27, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Gerson I want my 5 minutes of life back after reading this tripe. President Obama's remarks were off-the-cuff, but leave it to a David Brooks look alike to miss the larger point that Obama has experienced a similar scenario in recent days. The birther movement also thinks he doesn't own a big house on a nice street. He didn't single out crowley, he certainly singled out the police, who did act stupidly (from a lack of clarity on the racially sensitive issues). Moreover, His words indicted America for not fulfilling a promise of equality and rightfully so. Gerson, you're a feckless idealogue and a hack, that's why it is impossible for you to know better.

Posted by: kylelorditch | July 27, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

MR. Gerson,
I believe that the president said that it was a stupid act,not that the cop was stupid.after
they established that Gates was who he was,it was unnecessary to handcuff him.furthermore
even if Gates was loud ,angry etc the cop should have left without asking Gates to come out to the porch.So Mr. Gerson,don't be too judgmental that the president used his juvenile power.

Posted by: nova94v | July 27, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

An unspoken legacy not mentioned is the effect it has on the victim's contextual thinking. Reverse Obama's words - (racism) disportionate arrests, staupidity (guilty) without knowing the facts, (rage). This is especially with the police. Guilty until proven innocent. This should be part of Gates's documentary.

Posted by: brudner | July 27, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

one - the race card is being used as a weapon, two - obama used the race card and denigrated all police, all members of the health care industry. three - that was not an appology to the people he maligned, it was an apology that american people are begining to see the real obama. i am still waiting for him to apologize to cambridge, police, medical providers and to the american people. i want to hear his lecture to the black americans to stop using race as a weapon against white people, to stop dreging up history at their convenience to insite the coming race riots.

obama has me rethinking my realtionships with black people - i am definitly more distrusting of them now. obama is is just grin fuking america.

have you ever heard obama say anything positive about america or americans?

obama is bad for america.

Posted by: richardc2 | July 27, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Pres. Obama spoke the truth. The police acted "stupidly" by arresting someone at their residence because they were: "arrogant; belligerent; bellicose; wouldn’t shut up; said something about tehir mother, etc., etc. etc.,". Whatever Prof. Gates did he didn't physically keep the Crowley in his resident; physically attack him, etc. "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" - should be a saying the Cambridge PD may need to have their officers repeat over and over.

Gerson talking about what they (Bush Admin.) did - PLEASE SHUT UP!!!

Posted by: rlj1 | July 27, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

The poison dwarf Gates has helped Obama to show his inner racist. Juvenile is the perfect word for it. This stunt has cost him million of voters.

Posted by: carlbatey | July 27, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

The Obama bashers are once again grasping at straws to identify ways our new president is disgracing his office and the nation. Most of the criticism I've read on the Gates issue -- from columnists, commenters and bloggers -- have conveniently left out that Obama only mentioned the whole prickly situation to answer a question from the press directly about the topic.

Mr. Gerson, in a style typical of right wing voices lately, uses his column only to say how Obama did things wrong, not to explain how he should've handled the situation. Based on the insight Gerson does provide about how the president should handle the weight of his words, Obama's correct course of action would've been either:
a) have his staff spend the week leading up to the press conference calling any individual who might be specifically mentioned on any topic during the Q&A portion, or
b) refuse to answer the reporter's question on the topic because the White House hasn't asked for permission from the Cambridge Police to speak about them.

Both options are absurd, as is Gerson's main point. Oddly enough, that option b does look like a tactic the Bush White House would've employed in dealing with the press.

Posted by: JoeRimrock | July 27, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

teddybear3 are all of you stupid or is it just you. No need to respond, I already know the answer. You dumb sh*t, the radio transmission has nothing to do with what happened at the Gates house. It does not matter if the radio transmission was the 23 Psalm. What is at issue is an unnecessary arrest that should not have happened STUPID!

Posted by: sickofit3 | July 27, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I am Caucasion and I feel for Dr Gates.

When you have been harrassed by the Police because of a non-issue and threatened and intimidated, even once, you have are permanently scarred.

It really hurts the relationship form Security Agents and Police who are well intentioned non-Anal Retentive Police.

AND YES if one makes a mistake the other will back them..regardless if he is right or wrong.

Their philosophy is they can always say SORRY Later. Even if they kill you.

BUT they will go on making the same mistakes from a poorly managed police department.

I remember the Police Riots provoked by the Republicans from the 60's to the Republican National Convention from last year.

Therer werew several Police and Security and Henchmen units directed by VP Cheney to maintain harrassment and intimidation of several events.

I rememeber the one presentation by AT&T at FedEx Field where we were herded around like sheep and the Herders were imtimidating people who got out of line.

There were several similar event like this. Some of the Police departments do not like cutting the authoritarian routine.
Preferring heavy handed tactics to control and intimidate.

I would have the Police Department interrogated err investigated inthe same manner..see what falls out of the tree..

Fei Hu

Posted by: Fei_Hu | July 27, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

The Insensitivity of the Police is similar to a Police Incident beating a Kid with Epilepsy because he was a danger to them.

The Police Decry Ignorance and then appologize for it.

But the deed is done..the Kid died and Gates was arrested..

Fei Hu

Posted by: Fei_Hu | July 27, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

The fact remains that Pres. Obama will lose votes over this situation, which Obama himself said he helped to esculate.

Posted by: Chuck8764 | July 27, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

The president made the mistake of not hearing the other side of the sotry before commenting, but I give him credit for saying he is biased before calling stupid, stupid. Even if the alleged Gates crime occurred, cuffing a frail man with a cane when a summons would do is stupid. Gates wrongly accused Crowley of profiling and bias with the threat of do you know who I am. Crowley having his authority challenged, asked Gates to come outside without probable cause. Gates went outside with the momma remark and was cuffed and brought to the station house. The police dispatcher never alluded to the 911 caller's "it may be the owner, I don't know" to Crowley. Crowley's common sense told him the professor was not the perp and should of said sorry a break in was reported. The professor should be careful of where and when he exercises free speech with police as many have the bias he accused Crowley with.

Posted by: jameschirico | July 27, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

It's always fun when Michael Gerson is righteously indignant. Can almost make you forget that he enabled one of the most immoral and ruinous presidencies in modern history, a presidency famous for abusing executive authority. Do Post copy editors not check for excessive irony?

Go on, Michael, get righteously indignant. But at some point, the emperor has to get some clothes. It gets chilly in DC in winter...

Posted by: knightstale | July 27, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Obama should have passed on the question and ask the press to focus on Healthcare.

Obama was right when he said he doesn't have all of the facts.

Obama was wrong to disclosed his feelings about public law enforcement.

Obama needs to know when to shut his mouth.

HE MUST HAVE MISSED HIS "POLITICALLY CORRECT" Seminar. or maybe GATES was the instructor.

Posted by: pocketCHANGEisallihave | July 27, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Obama, being the most intelligent, blah blah, should have known that if a criminal case of either party would have been pursued, his intemperate words would have made successful prosecution impossible. What an bright IDIOT!

Posted by: sperrico | July 27, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

There is no excuse of Gates' behavior.
Gates blew this thing and now everyone is pointing to Obama or race relations.
Gate was the racist a-hole here.

Posted by: ravioliman6666 | July 27, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Gates told officer Crowley, “He did not know who he was messing with” meaning Barry was his buddy. I wonder who was throwing their weight around at that point? The mayor of Cambridge certainly backed her officers up, NOT. It looks like the rest of the country is backing officer Crowley up and just tired of the constant whining from the entitled black community. I sincerely hope the politics and bully statements crush Gates, Obama and the mayor for their lack of protocol. Maybe the “race card” is finally getting the attention it deserves. It has been played as a trump for 50 years now. It is time to move on. Liberals have used the word "racist" so much it really has no real meaning anymore. No meaning at all.

Gates should have watched Chris Rock’s “ How To” for his actions. It is certainly my Bible in dealing with law enforcement.

Posted by: longbow65 | July 27, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Gerson is correct. Obama diminished himself as a "Constitutional scholar" by commenting a all without the facts.

Not only has this decorated officer been profiled and slandered, but the citizen whose concern for Gates's home has also been called a racist. That has now been disproved, as most of us knew it would be when the tapes were released.

It doesn't matter if they all have a beer.

Americans have seen the President behave stupidly, and will re-think their assessment of him.

I'm a lifetime Democrat, and deeply disappointed in this President's "juvenile use of power."

On this issue, hard as it may for me to admit, I agree with Mr. Gerson.

Shame on you, Obama.

Posted by: auntmo9990 | July 28, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

The president is too young. Oh, sure the requirement is 35 years of age, but back in colonial times, a 35 yeard old man had the wisdom of a 50 year old today. And some 47 year olds today are like 27 year olds.

And we see this now.

Posted by: RealTexan1 | July 28, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

They are all out of line and this is dragging on way to long.

The cop was wrong - once he had proven residence, he should have departed.

Gates was worng for being disrespectful to someone who was sent to confirm whether or not his home was being burgled.

And - sigh - that our President would use his office as a bully pulpit for such a petty incident unworthy of White House comment - simply not presidential demeanor at all - very adolescent. but, give the kid a break, he's new.

Posted by: whotmewory1 | July 28, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Hey, "sickofit3," you're black, aren't you? Can tell by your theatrics

Posted by: whotmewory1 | July 28, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Please see my comments posted to E.Robinson's column, this date. For further reference, see the movie "Rosewood".

Posted by: derekrobbins | July 28, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Why does the Post give an arse like Gerson a voice?

Posted by: drindl | July 28, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Obama was right:
"In several cases, the courts in Massachusetts have considered whether a person is guilty of disorderly conduct for verbally abusing a police officer. In Commonwealth v. Lopiano, a 2004 decision, an appeals court held it was not disorderly conduct for a person who angrily yelled at an officer that his civil rights were being violated. In Commonwealth v. Mallahan, a decision rendered last year, an appeals court held that a person who launched into an angry, profanity-laced tirade against a police officer in front of spectators could not be convicted of disorderly conduct."

Posted by: JRM2 | July 28, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Gerson says Obama was acting like a juvenile. I would like to see an example of a President acting like an adult. I bet it would be invading Iraq.

Posted by: repudar711 | July 28, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Re: Litmus Test

Obama did dumb.

If you can’t admit it…

Do you also think Alger Hiss was innocent?

Posted by: hoplite2010 | July 28, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

The only thing Juvenile is one thinking that the issue will just go away. It was a case of Pride; Ego and Arrogance on all involved including Ms. or Mr. Neighbor who I believe works at Harvard but, somehow never heard of Professor Gates? And, oh are Whites happy about that 911 call. And Blacks still fired up about Crowley who still has that "me man" thing going on.

Now for common sense people we know racism is still going on. We know Blacks have problems with law enforcement no matter what training they have they still have assumptions about other races and their cultures because America cannot get over the attitude that Blacks somehow are the "statistical bottom feeders" according to most statistics generated so, the head thing of it all sticks in "stupid people's head". Now it goes over to Hispanics and any other culture that is not "White" in the physical or mental train of thought-the "superior theory" or complex. In other words dumb as is.

Anyway, another annoyance is that any thing this President puts forth is wrong and a failure before it is implemented. The dog was wrong breed, Sotomayor wrong choice; Hillary put out to pasture; wrong, wrong, wrong-bla, bla, bla... Why? we did not know he was going to do all of this-he was suppose to be cute and cuddly. Wrong again-he is The President!!
Barack Obama is the MAN not your dream Uncle Tom.

So, this is one Black man that is standing and looking ya square in the eyes and not backing down-Got it!.. He said it and he mean't it-no apologizing for dung!!!


If the President cannot think of a project for these two men-send them to NC and I will have plan for them to work on. "Stella Project" which involves designing park at beaches for the Handicap with boardwalk design just for them and children with a "touch pool" and fun stuff.
Picnic area accessible and manageable for them-vend area and all.

Or here is Reform Project: Street Clinic where people can come and party every 4 months and get checked and directed to services they need.

So, something good can come of all of this. Scar1 got the plan. Send um to me Mr. President-they will never be "bad" again. I will shake um down. Upsetting everybody-no Scar! got a A whipping for all of um!!!

Posted by: Scar1 | July 28, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

"Given his own background and friendship with Harvard professor Skip Gates, Obama’s immediate reaction to Gates’s arrest was understandable..."

Given your background,

1. What qualifies you to state that it was an immediate reaction, given that at least a day had passed

2. Are you aware the President has more access to a situation like this than you?

That said, I think it was stupid of Obama to call it a stupid act on the cop's part, even though it was a stupid act on the cop's part.

Once it was known that Gates was the occupant of the house, the fact that no one breaks into a house with a cane, much less luggage should have been obvious, and Crowley should have walked out.

I can understand if Crowley had charged Gates with assault or resisting arrest if those things had happened.

All that happened was that Gates was enraged at being accosted in his own house, and yelled at the cop in the house.

It was stupid of Crowley to react to it.

Posted by: HumanSimpleton | July 28, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Gerson is correct. Obama whiffed on this one and only time will tell how far his standing will fall.

Posted by: Puller58 | July 28, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Sgt. Gates arrested Prof. Gates in his own home, even though he had done nothing wrong. Gates simply had the courage to refuse to grovel.

The Cambridge Police dropped the charges *not* as a goodwill gesture, but because he had done nothing wrong.

Obama was right: Sgt. Crowley *did* act stupidly (or even worse, abusively). And he never accused Crowley of racism, which really isn't the point here. The point is abuse of police power. Kudos also to Obama for trying to make peace now; he seems to be the only adult in the room.

In sum: Gerson is wrong as usual. But then again, when has truth been a concern to neocon propagandists?

Posted by: PaulG2 | July 29, 2009 4:01 AM | Report abuse

I guess it was presidential for a dimwit to say to peers "you're with us or against us", or "bring it on". I assume in your book that a fool, who happens to be president, can unilaterally take on the world and expect everyone to sit back. I gather you support a president who lies to the entire world in order to send soldiers to die for an imaginary cause so as to steal from his own country, yet gets on the tube and say he has never made a mistake.

A pox on your house for your extreme stupidity Gerson.

Posted by: hadelaide | July 29, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

I still think he's fat, pompous and has a bad haircut but he's pretty much right on this one. Ann Bier

Posted by: jimsbier | July 29, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

What I find ironic is the same people who claim they need unfettered second amendment rights so they can protect themselves in case the government decides to come and seize them and their house (which they claim Obama has every intention of doing) are on the opposite side of an individual who tried to claim that right (albeit without a gun, just words). The police officer, an agent of the government, was attempting to get an old, disabled man who had already shown identification and proved his ownership out of his house in order to arrest him because he didn't like the man's attitude. And the police officer did indeed arrest him, handcuffed him, had him dragged down to the police station, and fingerprinted him. Isn't this the kind of government behavior pro-second amendment people are talking about when they talk about how they need guns in their home?

What the police office did, instead of calling for backup, (BTW, how many police officers does it take to arrest a disabled, unarmed man?) is give the id back and say, "Sorry to trouble you. Have to follow through on these 911 calls. Have a good day now."

Posted by: baltimoremom | July 29, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

To Law Enforcement Every Where

I’m only one citizen so I’d like to say,
Thank you for all you do each day.
You protect and serve for so little pay,
So I can sleep knowing your at work today.
You have a job that not all can do,
I have to admit that I pray for you.
Out numbered yet onward “ Our Hero’s in Blue”.
Battling crime and corruption so that I may live,
The cost it must take for your lives you do give.
So of the President’s word’s I ask you to forgive.
This country is more than any one man.
You are loved by all, so here’s my plan.
To send you an apology from every American!

Posted by: SonnyRice | July 29, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

As a women of color, I'd have to say the President was not only wrong, but arrogant and childish at the same time. Sure, being black in America is difficult; however, this should not mean that "everyone" is a racist. The President made the mistake of making that assumption, without knowing all the facts. I was very embarassed by his response; and now even more embarassed for him since he has had to back track.

What troubles me is not this incident, but what it says about his understanding of the power of the office and how he might make decisions regarding policies that are close to his heart. So if a close friend suffers any kind of indignity, does all reason take a leave? Seems pretty juvenile doesn't it, especially for a lawyer?

It makes me want to ask all kinds of questions about his family - what kind of health care do they have? did anyone in his family lose all their savings (or make a truckload)?

Posted by: Illinoismom | July 29, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

There was a Professional Baseball Player- maybe a Reliever- that seemed like a really nice Guy. He even rode the Subway to work. He agreed to an interview with a slimy Jew Writer (like Gerson) and they took a Subway ride to the Stadium.

At one point, the Ball Player made a cool offhand remark about the only people on the Train being a couple of Gays and something or other else. The slimy Writer printed it along with the shocked lying blather the Jew Media uses to justify War against Iran or Professor Gates attack on a poor cop just doing his job.

The Fans went berserk and the poor Guy was broken.

The President's remarks were measured and accurate and I just finished hearing a Jew TV Network leave out all of the quote except one altered sentence ending on stupid.

Ever since Farakhan called yours a Gutter Religion, you people have screwed Blacks in every way your perverted minds can devise.

The cops shoot, Taser, beat the Schwartzers, their Women, Parents and kids to Death like Dogs and NOT A GOD-DAMNED WORD FROM YOU FILTHY SWINE!

Monte Haun

Posted by: mchaun | July 29, 2009 10:05 PM | Report abuse

You people are sick with hate against the President. Your rednecks are showing !

Posted by: ellislawoffice | July 29, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

..."The Gates neighbor who snapped the now famous photo of the professor on his porch in handcuffs said, "I know he (Gates) was tired and upset, but someone of his stature and education should be a little more understanding."

..."The evidence against Gates' story is so compelling that on Monday the black mayor of Cambridge, Denise Simmons, said upon the release of the tapes, "I strongly support our commissioner Bob Haas."

No racial bias there

Posted by: DD163 | July 29, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

You people are sick with hate against the President. Your rednecks are showing !

Posted by: ellislawoffice | July 29, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

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