Saturday, July 25, 2009

Obama moves to dampen uproar over comment on race

This is a recent post by Associated Press about Obama's Big Slip
on National TV...

By NANCY BENAC, Associated Press Writer Nancy Benac,
Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 30 mins ago

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama concedes his words
— that a white police officer "acted stupidly" when he arrested
a black university scholar in his own home — were ill-chosen. But,
while he invited both men to visit him at the White House,
Obama stopped short of publicly apologizing for his remark.

The president personally telephoned the two men, Harvard
professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cambridge, Mass., police
Sgt. James Crowley, in an effort to end the rancorous back-and
-forth over what had transpired and what Obama had said about
it. Trying to lighten the situation, he even commiserated with
Crowley about reporters on his lawn. Hours earlier, a multiracial
group of police officers had stood with Crowley in Massachusetts
and called on Obama to say he's sorry.

It was a measure of the nation's keen sensitivities on matters of
race that the fallout from a disorderly conduct charge in
Massachusetts — and the remarks of America's first black
president about it — had mushroomed to such an extent that he
felt compelled to make a surprise appearance in the White House
briefing room to try to put the matter to rest. The blowup had
dominated national attention just as Obama was trying to
marshal public pressure to get Congress to push through health
care overhaul legislation — and as polls showed growing doubts
about his performance.

"This has been ratcheting up, and I obviously helped to contribute
ratcheting it up," Obama said of the racial controversy. "I want
to make clear that in my choice of words, I think I unfortunately
gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police
Department and Sgt. Crowley specifically. And I could've
calibrated those words differently." The president did not back
down from his contention that police had overreacted by
arresting the Harvard professor for disorderly conduct after
coming to his home to investigate a possible break-in. He added,
though, that he thought Gates, too, had overreacted to the police
who questioned him. The charge has been dropped.

Obama stirred up a hornet's nest when he said at a prime-time
news conference this week that Cambridge police had "acted
stupidly" by arresting Gates, a friend of the president's. Still,
Obama said Friday he didn't regret stepping into the controversy
and hoped the matter would end up being a "teachable moment"
for the nation.

"The fact that this has garnered so much attention, I think, is
testimony to the fact that these are issues that are still very
sensitive here in America," Obama said.

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