Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sticking His Nose In

A little late to the party on this, but I feel like I should...

I don't think Barack Obama has figured out that he is the President of the United States.  He may not even have figured out that he is the junior senator from Illinois.  At times he acts like he is a member of the Illinois legislature from the south side of Chicago.  That's exactly what he did in his comments about the incident involving Henry Louis Gates.

Presidents don't involve themselves in local police incidents.  Smart ones don't, anyway.  And certainly not without all the facts.  Smart presidents don't refer to the police as stupid...  And don't get into semantics with me about "stupidly" versus "stupid".

Want my take on the situation?  I am a private citizen who can't have anyone nuked so I'm allowed to pop off.  Before we get there, let me say that even though I'm a conservative, I'm not the greatest fan of police.  I think police often overstep their bounds.  I think police are given to arrogance and that it leads them into trouble.  I also am prepared to believe that race does sometimes play a role in the actions of police.  This, however, doesn't seem to be one of those times.

Let's step back and look at the situation.  The police got a call saying that it appeared someone was trying to break into Gates' home.  The officer responded.  Knocks on the door and finds an older, conservatively-dressed black man walking with a cane.  I agree that a reasonably person with typical biases (class and age, not race) is going to take one look at him and know that he is harmless.  I would guess that thought passed through Sgt. Crowley's mind.  Still, he has been sent on a call and he needs to do at least a minimum of investigation.  When he attempts to do that minimum he is met with resistance.  The man who answered the door is uncooperative and aggressive.  Why is this man behaving this way, Crowley asks himself.  This is a nothing call.  5 minutes and I'm out of here.  Why is this man making so much out of this?  Why is he trying to get rid of me.  Cops are paid to be suspicious, to look under the surface, and this is enough to make him suspicious.  That is why, rather than just walk away, Crowley stays and does his job.  He presses harder and Gates gets more and more aggressive.  It reaches a point where Henry Louis Gates, scholar, intellectual, professor at Harvard University, is simply out of control.  He ends up in handcuffs.

Now, I understand that black people and white people look at police differently.  I understand and even accept that.  It isn't completely irrational on the part of black people to have a lower level of trust in police.  It is based on experience.  However, at some point we need to apply an objective standard to people's actions.  I believe that Gates' reaction was completely beyond reason even given his own biases.

Barack Obama, a Constitutional officer whose charge includes taking care "that the Laws be faithfully executed" should not assume that a sworn law enforcement officer is behaving stupidly.  Barack Obama needs to realize something...  He is now The Man.  His days of community organizing are over.

And you know, while we're at it...  When he fucks up, he could do a little better than giving us a mealy-mouthed, politicians explanation.  He could give us something better than saying that he "could have calibrated those words differently."  Calibrated?  What the fuck is that?

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