President and Gibbs Play Fonzie on Stupid Police Apology

The President made a surprise appearance at today’s White House Press briefing to address the uproar over his comments about the arrest of Skip Gates at Wednesday’s press conference.  The President described a phone call he’d had with the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley.  They apparently spoke for awhile, and the President even suggested that he, Crowley, and Gates might get together at the White House for a beer.  What he didn’t say would become the topic of most of the rest of the briefing.

The President stopped short of saying that he had apologized to Crowley, and did not stay to answer questions.  In the ensuing briefing with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, the assembled press attempted to nail down that fact, without success.

For my part, I asked Gibbs if the President had expressed disappointment at the fact that all of the outrage centered on his word choice, and not on the circumstances of Gates’ arrest.  He referred me back to the President’s remarks.

It is remarkable that this comment has created such a firestorm that the President felt compelled to address it in this way.  I am a little bit surprised, however, that he didn’t stick around to take some questions.  While the President walked his statement back a little, he mostly stuck to his guns, saying both parties could have done better.  Left unsaid by the President was the fact that only one of those parties was specially trained to do better.

Will this story die here?  Perhaps in the mainstream media, after a weekend of talking-heads chatter.  Either way, an opportunity was missed to discuss the dynamic between black people and the police.  Instead, we get to focus on the words “stupidly” and “apology,” and parse the political effects.



  1. I’m one of the ones who thinks ‘stupidly’ was out of line, mainly because POTUS shouldn’t lose his cool on TV no matter how mad he is. Instead of really talking about the problem of racial profiling, he just repeated the professor’s version of the incident.

    I read the police statement somewhere the other night and it told a very different story of what happened. According to that report, the professor was belligerent and wouldn’t show his ID to the police and that’s why they arrested him.

    I don’t know which version of this story really happened and I’m not saying one is true and the other is false. It’s too bad that nobody got it on film so we could see who did what. I don’t automatically assume that the police version of events is a lie or a cover-up, the way everybody else seems to be doing.

    Without knowing for a fact which version of the event happened, I wouldn’t be so quick to label an entire police department as ‘stupid’ on national TV, even if it were a friend that was busted. I would have talked about the problem of racial profiling in general instead of the possibly-not-complete details of a specific incident.

  2. We know what Obama meant. No need to have race wars over the word apology.
    Busy today huh Tommy.
    I followed the tweets.

    Tweets sounds so stew-pud.

    THE REAL problem is both of these guy’s HUGE EGOS!
    Nuff said.

  3. Soooo many words just to avoid saying B.O. is an idiot… come on, everybody make mistakes… you’re human guys… just go ahead and admit that you made a mistake voting for this guy for president…

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