Obama's beer summit yields symbolic image, but little else
By Mary Agnes Carey
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) WASHINGTON — Different suds for different buds?
Each man's beer of choice was respectfully made available in glass mugs for their meeting at a table on the White House South Lawn Thursday evening: Bud Light for President
As Obama likes to say, they could disagree without being disagreeable.
However, the high-profile happy hour with an elite black professor, a white cop and the nation's biracial president and white vice president won't erase the tensions that led to it. Despite Obama's election, Americans at all levels of society still struggle with racial friction.
Crowley, speaking afterward with reporters at the AFL-CIO nearby, called the meeting "cordial and productive" but said no one offered apologies and he and Gates "agreed to disagree." He declined to share many details, saying it was "a private discussion."
Crowley said he and Gates are planning their own follow-up meeting, to talk more about their different perspectives and try to make something constructive of the incident.
After their meeting, Obama issued a statement thanking Gates and Crowley for joining him.
"I have always believed that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart," he said. "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."
Obama's regrets were clear; he knew he screwed up. Initially last week, he said the police "acted stupidly" in arresting Gates for lashing out at them after they showed up to see if he had broken into what turned out to be his own home. In saying that, the president polarized Americans, enraged police, went off-message on health care and lost standing with the public.
A Pew poll released Thursday found four in five Americans are aware of his remarks — and disapprove of them by 41 to 29 percent. Among whites alone, the split was 2-to-1 against him, and hurt his overall approval rating. Obama's support among whites fell following his comments from 53 to 46 percent in a couple of days.
Last week Obama quickly declared his first reaction unhelpful, professed his appreciation for police and allowed that Gates bore responsibility for escalating things. The president called it a "teachable moment" and set up Thursday's meeting.
Journalists were summoned to take pictures of the staged event, but not to ask questions or listen to the conversation. Gates and Crowley were permitted to come early for the
However, he struggled to explain how ordinary Americans should apply the example of a presidential invitation that neither Gates nor Crowley could reasonably refuse to less mediated instances of racial tension in their own lives.
"I don't think the president has outsized expectations that one cold beer at one table here is going to change massively the course of human history," Gibbs said. However, he said he the images would "provide a far different picture than what we've seen to date of this situation."
"I knew it was going to get to that point," after Obama said the police acted "stupidly," she said. "He was under the gun then."
Fairley first assumed Gates was a victim of racial profiling, but said the more she learned about the 911 call and Gates' behavior before his arrest, she realized it wasn't that simple.
Fairley supports teaching cultural diversity and having laws to protect minority rights, but cautioned, "You cannot legislate love. You cannot legislate history."
"If we can get over slavery and get an African-American president in the
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