They came, they drank, they disagreed

President Barack Obama’s much-ballyhooed "beer summit" came and went at the White House Thursday where the two sides of what has become a bitter racial debate met, talked, drank beer, agreed to disagree and promised to meet and talk again.

Nobody apologized and nobody changed their position. It was, for most practical purposes, a non-event that lasted 40 minutes and probably won’t do much to stem the simmering racism that still runs through the fabric of America.

The arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his home by Cambridge, Mass. police Sgt. Joseph Crowley two weeks ago turned into a national debate when Obama said Crowley "acted stupidly."  Crowley shrugged it off by saying he hadn’t voted for Obama anyway.

Crowley has refused to apologize and although Obama has tried to stem the backlash against his own comments, he hasn’t offered an apology either.

Said Obama:

I have always believed that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart. I am confident that has happened here tonight, and I am hopeful that all of us are able to draw this positive lesson from this episode.

White House officials hope this ends Obama’s public involvement in the affair and that he can get back to trying to convince a skeptical public to support his health care reform proposals but political professionals doubt it will be that easy.

"The President stepped into a big pile on this one and the stink won’t go away that easily," one Democratic strategist told Capitol Hill Blue.

Both Gates and Crowley tried to put a positive spin on the evening.

"I hope this will be an occasion for education, not recrimination," Gates said, noting that Obama "just might have a few other things on his plate as well."

Said Crowley:

I think what you had today was two gentlemen agreeing to disagree on a particular issue. I don’t think that we spent too much time dwelling on the past. We spent a lot of time discussing the future.

Before the meeting, Obama tried to play down expectations, telling reporters:

I noticed this has been called the "Beer Summit." It’s a clever term, but this is not a summit, guys. This is three folks having a drink at the end of the day, and hopefully giving people an opportunity to listen to each other. And that’s really all it is. This is not a university seminar.

Crowley said Obama didn’t say much at the meeting, noting:

He provided the beer. He contributed in a small part. He really wanted to bring two people together to try to solve not only a local issue in Cambridge but also what has become a national issue.

But Obama’s "acted stupidly" remark cost him in the public eye with polls showing 41 percent of Americans disapproving of his actions with 29 percent approving.  Whites gave Obama a thumbs down by a 2-1 margin.


  1. storky

    As long as Sgt. James Crowley keeps largely to himself, this event can pass quietly into history.
    If he does bow to the radical right-wingers and start a new campaign to attack Obama, say hello to “Jim the cop!” If he persists, he will ascend to the Cuckcoo Conservatives Hall of Fame with a special exhibit next to “Joe the plumber” and “Tito the builder.”

  2. AustinRanter

    The lesson here should be that the Executive Branch of Government not over step it’s authority and get involved in the Judicial Branch.

    For Obama to intervene by comment or actions to remedy the conflicts between the professor and the police offer is an infringment on the rights of the respective state to manage their own civil and criminal matters.

    He probably cause considerably more polticical damage in the process, which seems to have resulted in an even greater division between civil servants, African Americans, and Anglo Americans.

    Botton line…Obama pissed in his peanut butter. Or if you perfer, his Bud light.

  3. Flapsaddle

    3 August 1970: Nixon declared that Charles Manson was “guilty”, thereby inserting himself into a sensational trial already in progress in California. Collectively, the left-leaners either shat their drawers or screamed themselves into hyperventilation that the President would be so arrogant as to make a declaration in the matter.

    Interestingly enough, in this situation the usual suspects have either said nothing or else seem to have defended to some degree what Obama has done.

    Guess it depends on whose ox gets gored.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  4. gazelle1929

    The problem here is that the cops arrested the professor for disorderly conduct for mouthing off to them on his own property.

    As free speech champion Justice William Brennan explained for the Court two decades ago in a seminal case, Houston v. Hill, “contrary to the city’s contention, the First Amendment protects a significant amount of verbal criticism and challenge directed at police officers. ‘Speech is often provocative and challenging…. [But it] is nevertheless protected against censorship or punishment, unless shown likely to produce a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest.'”