No…I’m not talking about Everest or Mt. Hood. I’m speaking of the “Beer Summit” held at the backyard picnic table at The White House, concocted and hosted by President Obama. The quaint meeting came in the wake of a huge gaff, when Obama commented, during a press conference on health care, on the now-famous arrest in Cambridge, Mass, of Professor Henry “Skip” Gates.
First admitting he was unsure of the facts, but then continuing on to say the Cambridge Police “acted stupidly”, it was a swift act of damage control. Our President personally invited, for a beer, the professor himself and the arresting officer, Sgt. Crowley. I’ll give Obama credit, I think it was a truly wonderful thing to do, and an excellent example of how others might deal with the lingering issue of racism in America.
I wrote in last week’s column my feelings surrounding the arrest itself, and the President’s comments thereafter, so I won’t revisit that ground, but I was impressed with Obama’s reaction to it, and the effort to hold a “summit” of sorts with those involved.
Let’s say, I’m “cautiously impressed”, because after the event, portions of which were allowed to be filmed, but with no audio, and pictures were allowed, I felt a little dirty for some reason. Maybe it is my innate cynicism as a firm believer in the old adage, “there are no coincidences in politics”. Somehow, the entire event seemed staged. We can be sure the original broaching of the subject by a journalist was not a surprise, these press conferences are tightly previewed as far as which questions will be asked is concerned. Somehow, it all seemed too quaint, with Vice President Joe Biden drinking non-alcoholic beer. Read what you want into that one. Considering the “summit” was only requisite due to Obama placing his foot firmly in his mouth, it seemed odd to invite the man best known for having his own foot usually ankle-deep in his own pie hole. Kind of like inviting a Tourette’s patient to a lunch at The Vatican. Heavy roll of the dice, there.
Still, being a romantic at heart, I lean towards taking it all at face value. I don’t believe Obama is a man incapable of sincerity, primarily because he has two daughters. But he is also very, very cunning. He has demonstrated it repeatedly throughout his campaign and his presidency. He is sly like a fox, and as most of us learned as children, there is a kind of “boy who cried wolf” syndrome that accompanies that track record. It makes it difficult to ascertain sincerity.
I think back to the original comment, how the police “acted stupidly”, and how it wreaked of Reverend Wright and Al Sharpton. That will be hard to dismiss, for me, because I believe there is a certain amount of unbridled opinion that slipped out there, and it betrays a deeper belief about, not only police officers, but about the country.
For the purpose of this column, though, my intent is to simply scale the summit. That being said, on a scale of 1 – 10, I’ll give it a 7. I believe his heart is in the right place, in bringing these gentlemen together, but I still believe his head…and core beliefs…are in the “Wright” place.