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Obama’s New Drinking Buddies: A Teachable Moment

July 30, 2009

We’re about to witness a new milestone in American politics: the President inviting two individuals to the White House for beers to do some further spin control on a local issue that has gone viral. Just when you think you’ve seen the most bizarre situation in America, a new one pops up.

Henry Gates (the Black academic who walks with a tilt due to the big chip on his shoulder) and police sergeant James Crowley (who couldn’t walk away when he realized that Gates was indeed the home owner, yet had to save face by arresting him) will meet with Obama (who couldn’t keep his mouth with the gleaming teeth shut). Will the three amigos simply sip their beers, or tie one on? Now that would be interesting. It appears that while Obama is a simple Bud Lite dude, Gates prefers Red Stripe, a Jamaican beer; Crowley likes Blue Moon, a Belgian-style beer brewed by Coors. Should the three dig into their respective six-packs, their conversation may become somewhat skewed as they view the problem through what Stephen Colbert referred to yesterday as ‘beer goggles.’

More seriously, though, is the real victim in this now national fiasco – Lucia Whalen, the women who called 911 to report what was perceived at the time as a possible break-in. Ms. Whalen is devastated by the media’s hounding, insults by the public and death threats. What is going on in America? Have people totally lost it? So while the three amigos kick back in the White House garden, Ms. Whalen’s torment goes on. She is indeed collateral damage inflicted by the media’s obsessive, compulsive behaviour to inflate news stories, however minor.

Obama likes to talk about a ‘teachable moment,’ but this would never had arrived had he shown a little perspective and judgement – and less bias – and kept his mouth shut and stayed out of the issue. What’s sad is that these three men are leaders in their own rights, in different ways and in their own contexts, and yet here we have the three ‘boys’ getting together in probably one of the more contrived spectacles in recent years when the issue never should have escalated in the first place.

What can we learn from this sad episode in American politics? Well, boys will be boys. It would be interesting to see what would happen were the main characters females. The story probably would not have blown up to the same scale, if at all. It’s time to chill out and gain some perspective.

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