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July 23, 2009
Obama disses the Secret Service
President Obama didn't just insult the Cambridge Police and Sgt Crowley, he insulted the Secret Service, who guard him with their lives. Bookworm noticed the slight, though it has been largely ignored in the kerfuffle:
I would also note that the mayor of Cambridge (black) and police chief reportedly have apologized to Gates. This strikes me as utterly stupid. The police department has got to be smarting under all the criticism, and cannot appreciate the lack of support from the city itself.
"I don't know - not having been there and not seeing all the facts - what role race played in that, but I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two that he Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home," Obama said in response to a question from the Chicago Sun-Times's Lynn Sweet.
Gates, Obama allowed, "is a friend, so I may be a little biased here. I don't know all the facts."
However Gates, he continued, "jimmied his way to get into [his own] house."
"There was a report called in to the police station that there might be a burglary taking place - so far so good," Obama said, reflecting that he'd hope the police were called if he were seen breaking into his own house, then pausing.
"I guess this is my house now," he remarked of the White House. "Here I'd get shot."
Let me rephrase that. What Obama just said is that, if he for some reason was in the wrong place in the White House, or in the right place at the wrong time, White House security would shoot him. Let me dig down into that a little deeper: "I, Barack Obama, think it's funny and self-deprecatory to state that the security people who surround me, the ones who have taken on the job of protecting the world's biggest targets, are racists who would willingly shoot me because I am a black man in a fancy house."
And its no use defending that statement by saying that Obama was likening himself to just any homeowner, as opposed to a black one. Gates made it very clear, and Obama, who was defending Gates, must have understood, that the pressure the police put on Gates was solely because he was black. Indeed, from the minute the officers arrived, Gates used his race as the justification for refusing to cooperate, thereby escalating the situation. With this manifest racial context, Obama could only have been saying that a black man in the White House is a natural target for security forces.
Frankly, if I were in the Secret Service, I would have second thoughts about holding a job that requires me to throw myself in front of a bullet to protect an employer who thinks so little of me that, as a joke, he implies that I would casually pull the trigger and shoot him just because he's black.
I would not want to serve as mayor or police chief and be hated by many police officers. There are just too many ways in which a politician can be caught in embarrasing situations.