A Slip of the Tongue
It was a night of endless questioning of the president about health care reform, but as the news conference droned on for nearly an hour, the press was looking for a lead. And then, voila, a question from a Chicago Sun-Times reporter about the Professor Gates/Sergeant Crowley incident. Ears perked up. President Obama responded quickly, too quickly, as it happens, commenting on what he perceived as the "stupidity" of the Cambridge Police Department in handling the situation.
A slip of the tongue mushroomed into a national story, eclipsing all others. How could the president rectify this and turn a careless comment into a teachable moment on the power of words--his and those directly involved; the underlying and ever-present issue of race in America, and, finally, the use of reconciliation to resolve conflict?
The South Lawn summit produced more than media commentary on choice of beer. It brought together two people whose views on race relations mirror what many Americans think. President Obama became the choreographer-in-chief and through this meeting he helped diffuse a potentially volatile situation, at least for the short term.
Whether Obama, the First Lady, or his advisers were the first to understand the consequences of his words is not the issue. The fact that the president listened, heard, and acted to mitigate the damage is a test of good leadership.
Posted by: dsmittyticked | August 6, 2009 8:41 PM
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