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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Racial Profiling and Beer

It’s hard to say that it’s over til it’s over, but it looks like the brouhaha over the President’s remarks about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates by the Cambridge Police Department mestastisized and then rapidly subsided in the course of just one day, with Obama playing the crucial role of peacekeeper.
In case you missed it, Boston-area police unions held a bristling press conference this morning that presented their own side of the Gates incident, and then basically demanded a presidential apology for his remarks on the subject earlier this week.
Then the President made a surprise appearance at a White House press briefing to announce that he had called James Crowley, the officer who arrested Gates, to apologize, and further, that he’d like to get Gates and Crowley together at the White House to talk and hoist a few beers.
What this accomplished, at least for the moment, was to humanize an issue that was rapidly in the process of being turned into a vast abstraction enlisting all sorts of primal emotions about race, crime, respect for authority, the “castle” of homeownership, and God knows what else. While Obama can definitely be faulted for making this a national news story the other night, he did strike the right chord in bringing it all back to earth, where sometimes misbehavior and misunderstanding can be resolved by conversation, with or without beer.

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