Gates! It’s day three of Gatesgate, the biggest political-racial controversy to rock the country since that other one a week ago. After Obama’s uncharacteristically opinionated remark that the Cambridge police acted “stupidly” for arresting a guy who was angry for being mistaken for a burglar in his own home, all hell broke loose. Police officers around the country expressed their displeasure with Obama’s conclusion-jumping and name-calling. Even Bill Cosby who, as the head of the Huxtable household, has seen more than his fair share of disputes was taken aback. “I was shocked to hear the president making this kind of statement,” Cosby told a Boston radio station. Last night, Gates himself reacted to Obama’s comments for the first time, on Gayle King’s radio show: “I think that the circumstances are so egregious that it was the adjective that logically popped into his head,” Gates said. He added, “There’s nothing that I could have done to justify Sergeant Crowley’s action.” But Gates wasn’t the only one defending Obama last night so was Obama.
Appearing on Nightline, Obama said he didn’t regret his choice of words and was surprised that people were making a big deal out of this. “I think it was a pretty straightforward commentary that you probably don’t need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who is in his own home,“ he said. Then he reiterated that, that being said, he didn’t know all the facts of the case … before again speculating on said facts. “My suspicion is, words were exchanged between the police officer and Mr. Gates, and that everybody should have just settled down, and cooler head should have prevailed. That’s my suspicion.” Perhaps, but cooler head’s at this point are not helpful for the GOP. As one might expect from any self-respecting political party, they’re trying to score some points on the issue with an ad asking whether Obama’s comments were “presidential.” Here’s guessing that most people who see it on the Drudge Report, where it’s running, will answer “no.” Meanwhile, the arresting officer in the incident is thinking of suing Henry Louis Gates Jr. for defamation. So, yeah, this is not nearly over. On the bright side, it’s great publicity for CNN’s Black in America 2.