What did you learn from the dustup involving Sergeant Crowley, Professor Gates, and The Leader of the Free World?
It taught me a few things. First, there is no guarantee that Joe Biden’s reputation as the National Village Idiot can weather the competition from his boss. I learned that a “beer summit” can be as silly and pointless as nation-hopping apology tours. I also realized what joy there was to be found in reading about something other than Sonia Sotomayor and socialized medicine for a week or so. I now also know that there is no limit to the feels-good buffoonery the President will engage in to cover his butt, back and fill, and get back on message. Finally, the dreary consistency in Obama’s thought processes was laid bare.
When Sen. Obama told Joseph Wurzelbacher that he wanted to “spread the wealth around,” he got away with it because no one outside the conservative media called him on it. It wasn’t news. To the opinion makers of our country, Marxist-Leninist economic theory is merely a given, a small part of the background noise of their lives, much as corruption is to the Clintons. For them, it was just another day at the commune.
When he nominated a racialist to be one of the nine most powerful judges on the planet he confirmed the fears of those who believe that the Constitution still matters more than the color and shape of one’s skin, a person whose “richness of experience” as a “wise Latina woman” will help her decide momentous constitutional issues. Never mind that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her former colleague, retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, have frequently said that “a wise old man and a wise old woman reach the same judgment.” But the worst (so far) was yet to come.
Stating emphatically that the Cambridge Police had “acted stupidly” in arresting “Skip” Gates, Obama aligned himself with the race-baiting clowns and bottom-feeding grievance peddlers of the Al Sharpton cohort. Back-pedaling at Olympic-class speed, he admitted his failure to calibrate his language more precisely when an unadorned apology was called for. But the ultimate knee slapper was that beer in the Rose Garden. In arranging it, the President was being true to his first calling as a community organizer on Chicago’s south side. (Who else has noticed that Al Capone could be described as such? Although, to be fair to Capone, he actually got things done.)
After his beer, Professor Gates said of police officers that he now understands and appreciates “more than ever . . . their daily sacrifices on our behalf.” Where has he been all these years? Oh, that’s right: Harvard. But Sgt. Crowley had the best sense of it. The entire incident taught him, “The media can find you no matter where you live,” and the President’s principal contribution to the festivities was in providing the beer.
During the first six months of his administration, the President has spent more money than all of his predecessors combined and converted his anti-Bush rants on some aspects of national security issues into actions that are not entirely inconsistent with his predecessor’s. National Review recently proposed a working title for his memoirs: Dick Cheney Was Right: And Other Things I Learned on the Job. But on matters of social policy and attitudes, President Obama has not deviated even a half step from the sentiments he expressed as Candidate Obama. Abortion is a right. Equality means affirmative action. Our judges need to empathize. Racist words and actions are exclusively the province of whites. Profiling is used against minorities. It is the liberal litany with which we’ve been bombarded for about 40 years now, but never before have we heard it in such stark terms from the man occupying Theodore Roosevelt’s bully pulpit.
I have spent most of my 37-year career, in and out of the military, working with judges, lawyers, and cops. I cannot recall a single instance when an officer took an action based on racial profiling, not even in the good old days when we were ignorant of that pernicious phrase. The police are taught to act on probable cause. There are several definitions of the phrase in current usage. I prefer: “An articulable suspicion that a crime is being or has been committed and that a certain person or persons committed it.” The same standard applies to murder, disorderly conduct, and everything in between. Yes, among police officers one will find morons, rogues, and outright thugs, a couple of whom I’ve helped to prosecute. But even a Harvard professor should know that “the thin blue line” is overwhelmingly populated by honorable men and women who stand between us and chaos, between us and burglary suspects. He should also know better than to enter into an adversary relationship with anyone wearing a badge and a gun.
In 2007, Professor Thomas Sowell wrote about an incident during which a white police officer stopped a car one night because it did not have its headlights on. When he made the decision to stop the car to give the driver a verbal warning, the officer could not tell the race or gender of the driver. When the officer told the black driver why he’d been stopped, the driver exclaimed, “You only pulled me over because I am black!” The officer had a civilian observer with him that night, a well-known black journalist. Afterward the journalist asked the officer how often he got such reactions from black motorists.
He replied, “About 80% of the time.”
I have a question for President Obama and Professor Gates: Who’s profiling whom?