Barack Voice Over: “This is the city: Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s a nice place to live, even when it’s the epicenter of a race politics earthquake. It’s got everything a Monday morning quarterback could ever want: Experienced public safety professionals in need of condescending hindsight criticism; seasoned peacekeepers begging for an untrained second-guesser to critique their job performance; decorated policemen hungry for a procedural review from a backseat driver whose vast repository of law enforcement knowledge was amassed by watching the Season 1 DVD box set of “The Wire.” Occasionally, one of those Cambridge cops will “act stupidly” by arresting one of my Harvard cronies. That’s where I come in. I don’t work here. I don’t carry a badge. Or even a long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate, for that matter.”
Narrator Voice Over: “The column you’re about to read is true. The facts have been embellished to preserve the author’s status as an opinionated hammerhead.”
(Music: “Dragnet March”)
Barack Voice Over: “It was Thursday, July 16th. It was warm in Cambridge. I was working the day watch out of Amateur Armchair Internal Affairs Division. My partner is Joe Biden. My name’s Obama. When a member of the Cambridge Police Department made the mistake of hassling my Ivy League confrère, Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., it became the job of A.A.I.A.D. to offer uninformed, knee-jerk condemnation.”
Bomp-buh-bomp-bomp! Well, it appears the presidential pie-hole has outrun that busy, busy brain once again. It wasn’t Special Olympians or the séances of Nancy Reagan this time; it was Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley. So brilliant is our president that he didn’t need to wait for the results of an official inquiry; quicker than you can say “Vero Possumus,” he had Crowley branded as a cross between a Keystone Kop and a Ku Klux Klansman. Not since the Nixon administration awarded Elvis Presley a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs special agent badge have we seen such a stellar display of presidential insight into the realities of law enforcement.
But it’s really what has happened since then that makes this circus of pain the delight that it is. Here’s what the President actually said, in context, when asked about Gates’ arrest:
“But I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.”
The comment in question is number two (pun intended) in that quote. But there’s more where that came from. Try to crack the code of this “clarification” offered by Obama at a White House press briefing on Friday:
“I unfortunately, I think, gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sgt. Crowley specifically.”
Let’s review. July 22, 2009: “Cambridge police acted stupidly…”
Yes, Mr. President, I’m going to get totally crazy and agree with you: Somehow, Americans were given the impression that you were maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sgt. Crowley specifically. Now, I’ve carefully reviewed the tapes of the statement in question. I’ve analyzed your sentence structure, word choices, facial expressions, body language, and vocal inflections, and now that I’ve thoroughly reviewed all the data, I think I’ve zeroed in on exactly what went wrong: According to my research and calculations, there is a clear reason why Americans were left with the impression that that you were maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sgt. Crowley specifically: The problem, it seems, stems directly from the fact that you were maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sgt. Crowley specifically.
Ron Popeil Infomercial Voice Over: “Whew! That was a close one! Fortunately for his presidential legacy, Barack narrowly avoided what could have been a disastrous, first-ever encounter with – Yuck! – sincerity and apologetic humility. How did he do it? By offering Sgt. Crowley the patented Beltway Non-PologyTM! Why apologize, when you can Non-PologizeTM? The new Beltway Non-PologyTM from Ronco is perfect for those occasions when words like “I’m sorry!” might jeopardize your media-hyped image as an infallible, omnipotent deity. Don’t put yourself through the hassle of feigning contrition when you can dodge personal responsibility! The Beltway Non-PologyTM does the work for you, creating the illusion of remorse while allowing you to maintain plausible deniability!”
My favorite chapter in this surreal tale, however, is President Barack “Common Man” Obama’s plan to sit down with Professor Henry Louis “Regular Guy” Gates Junior and Sergeant James “Yo’ Mama” Crowley “over a beer.” (“Whip us up some wings, Michelle! The boys are comin’ over! UFC’s on Pay-Per-View!”) Yep, a few cold ones in the White House basement bar, T.G.I.Franklin D. Rosie’s – “Where Commanders-In-Chief Have Nothing To Beer But Beer ItselfTM” – that ought to help everyone drunkoncile their differences.
Does this column seem a tad cynical, or is it just me? I guess I could have calibrated those words differently.