Your morning jolt: Obama says ‘Cambridge police acted stupidly’ in arrest of Harvard scholar

With the economy still coughing, with one war bubbling and another merely seeting, with an administration’s major health care initiative stalled, it can be easy to forget the immediate and essential change that comes when an African-American is president of the United States.

This from the Washington Post:

Obama was asked at the end of his [Wednesday night] news conference about the arrest last week of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. outside his home. The incident has sparked a national discussion about race relations.

Obama noted that “Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here,” and he referred to the professor’s account of arriving home to find a jammed door, forcing it open and then being confronted by a white police officer looking for proof that Gates lived in the home. According to Gates’s account, he showed the officer his ID and became angry when the officer would not identify himself.

We’ll let the New York Times pick it up:

Mr. Obama, asked Wednesday what the incident said about race relations in America, noted up front that Mr. Gates is a friend and that his comments might be biased. He said “words” had been exchanged and added:

“Now, 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 the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know, separate and apart from this incident, is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. And that’s just a fact.” He added later that the incident was “a sign of how race remains a factor in this society.”

Blogging is the new journalism, we’re told. And so all bloggers are journalists, right? Not really.

On Monday night, the fellow who runs two of the most popular political blogs in the state — the locally oriented PeachPundit.com and nationally minded RedState.com — sent via Twittered a particularly compelling message.

Wrote Erick Erickson:

I’ve decided to just start clobbering Oxendine every day at RedState and Peach Pundit and suggesting new FOIA requests each day.

(John Oxendine’s Republican campaign for governor did not mention Erickson by name, but alluded to the feud in a recent fund-raising e-mail.)

Only the week before, The State newspaper, going through e-mails of journalists begging for the chance to let a disappeared Gov. Mark Sanford to explain himself, found a message from Erickson:

“If he wants something more personal for the blog to push back, I’m happy to help,” wrote Erick Erickson, a writer for RedState.com. On June 23, Erickson ripped “media speculation” about Sanford’s whereabouts.

“I wasn’t trying to be a reporter. I wanted to curtail the story,” Erickson said by e-mail. “Well that didn’t work.”

The point is, Erickson — who also has a part-time job as a Republican city councilman in Macon — does not consider himself a journalist. And woe be unto the political candidate who thinks he is.

“The more accurate comparison would be talk radio — not CNN,” Erickson said. “Make no bones about it. I’m not out to be fair and balanced. I have a side that I advocate for.

“We do try at PeachPundit to be objective, which gets us in trouble. I state my biases clearly – still try to be fair. RedState is an activist oriented site of a particular viewpoint that I don’t apologize for.”

The extremity of his comments can be shocking — when David Souter announced his retirement to the U.S. Supreme Court, Erickson referred to the justice as a child molestor. In the last 48 hours, he’s called Jimmy Carter “history’s greatest monster.” Erickson sometimes deals in innuendo rather than rhetoric, and has been particularly hard on Georgia politicians who — whether by rumor or fact — can’t keep their pants up.

His early defense of Sanford wasn’t an inconsistency, Erickson said. When he wrote that e-mail to Sanford mentioned above, the South Carolina governor was still lost on the Appalachian Trial.

In his writings, Erickson speaks well of Karen Handel, one of Oxendine’s many GOP rivals. But he says he’s on no one’s payroll. He’s also siding with Marco Rubio against Charlie Crist in the Florida’s Republican race for U.S. Senate. “If I were not an elected Republican official in Georgia, republicans would have no problem,” Erickson said.

After our brief conversation, Erickson called back and left a voice mail: “I do on occasion drum up news,” he said. “but when I do do news generation, it’s not to be just the reporter, but to lay the facts out there that are positive toward my cause.”

Erickson is planning a rendezvous between those who post for his blog and several Republican officials, in Atlanta from July 31 to Aug. 2.

On Wednesday, Ken Edelstein over at Atlanta Unsheltered reported that Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin was in the running a new job: Region IV administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, at $177,000 a year.

My AJC colleague Eric Stirgus dutifully went rumor-chasing. First, Stirgus got the denial from Franklin’s office. But he is a true skeptic, and kept going.

“This story is not true,” was the e-mail he received from Adora Andy, the EPA press secretary. And so we must report this rumor killed.

While you ponder that, consider these items found while perusing this morning’s ajc.com:

  • Gwinnett towers to be toppled.
  • SunTrust struggles with $183 million loss.
  • Delta trims losses, AirTran posts profit.
  • State’s high school graduation rate in ‘crisis.’
  • Cobb school system could eliminate 11,000 school bus stops.
  • Georgia guardsman from Dalton dies in Afghanistan.
  • Teachers groups angry over furloughs.
  • City of Atlanta looks at leasing offices for parks staff.
  • Some opinion:

  • Your Luckovich fix.
  • Kyle Wingfield says choice is a casualty of ObamaCare.
  • Post-racial America looks pretty racial to Lawrence Bobo.
  • Obama headed to Plains, not Hope.
  • From elsewhere in Georgia:

  • Atlanta Unflitered: DeKalb district attorney says Bolton’s luxury car story ‘absurd,’ but not criminal.
  • And beyond:

  • WSJ: Obama endorses surtax on families earning $1 million a year for health care.
  • WP: North Korea escalates a war of words, calls Hillary Clinton vulgar and unintelligent.
  • For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

    23 comments Add your comment

    Geezguys

    July 23rd, 2009
    9:39 am

    Informing the current crop of Americans that blogger does not equal journalist is a waste of breath. Most people don’t care as long as the blogger agrees with their point of view. When Bill O’Reilly’s show is considered “news” by many folk, it’s clear they have no concept of what journalism used to be.

    Doctor M

    July 23rd, 2009
    9:54 am

    It seems to me that Gates pulled a Cynthia McKinney and pulled out the automatic “you just picking on me cause I’m Black” card. If he hadn’t gone there, perhaps this wouldn’t have turned into what it has.
    It is ODD that the cop didn’t recognize Gates–with all his local/national prominence–but Whites don’t pay attention to what Black folks do, so…? I lived in Boston during the busing issue, so yes, it was, and still is, a racist town. But the cop was called to check out a reported break-in; he (cop) had a right to see proof, ID, etc. I think Skip gave him lip and that escalated everything.
    BUT once Gates proved he owned the home, it should have stopped there.
    Barack, however, should NOT have dealt with this last night, because it took him OFF MESAGE re: health…which he doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing. I voted for BO, but I hope the plan does not pass. It needs to be right, not rushed. His dealing with Gates became the headline. That wasn’t his primary agenda and wasn’t the plan.

    There is absolutely NO NEED to rush this health care matter! Stop this. Step back; gather physicians and talk about it. The past 20 years has been a RAPE of the medical profession.
    And since the president said nothing would kick in until “2013,” there are things that can be done in the meantime that will FREE PHYSICIANS to CARE FOR OUR PATIENTS!!! You won’t have any doctors if this mess keeps up. See http://drmccloud.com/blog.php

    Bo Chambliss LOBBYIST

    July 23rd, 2009
    9:59 am

    Saxby will be voting for the Hate Crime law, so these cops can be put in jail where they belong.

    Voice or Reason#1

    July 23rd, 2009
    10:00 am

    Uh, Galloway…The diversion re: “blogging” is going to take this thread off point. And, Amen, Doctor M.

    Oh yeah

    July 23rd, 2009
    10:06 am

    If the same incident happended to me as a white male, I would expect the police to ask me for identification. I guess as a white male I don’t expect special treatment. Obama is looking less and less presidential each day and as of yesterday, more and more like another Al Sparpton. Obama was way out of line mentioning this incident. It was Gates who made this into a race incident with his over the top arrogance. I’m glad the police officer in the incident is refusing to apologize; he has nothing to apologize for. He was simply doing what he’s being paid to do, protect and serve.

    Will Jones - Atlanta

    July 23rd, 2009
    10:51 am

    Righteous law enforcement officers, noble public servants, have no hesitation giving their names and badge numbers. The officer who came to Gates’ home apparently refused to reveal this commonly asked for information, helping to provoke the situation.

    Obama’s answer last night when asked by a reporter of the incident in Cambridge, Harvard University’s hometown, demonstrated grace.

    He is the sovereign People’s elect, as Chief Executive, and should err, barring compelling and proven evidence to the contrary, on the side of the People, whom the Gates individual represents.

    Obviously Gates needed the experience which came to him in this form. He leads a life of comfort and privilege far from his privation and West Virginia roots, serving the false-elite Harvard cultivates. Should this awaken the 58-year-old to awareness of more heinous injustice yet rife in Our Land, beyond his academic specialty, he’ll be a better man for it, with or without tenure.

    Oh yeah

    July 23rd, 2009
    11:31 am

    Will Jones the typical hyocrite. Was George Bush the sovereign People’s elected Chief Excutive? Come one guy…put it in writing. Anyone at any time should be prepared to show identification to a police officer. Yes, that includes arrogant Harvard professors too.

    [...] Jim Galloway reported on this behavior in today’s morning  jolt. [...]

    David

    July 23rd, 2009
    11:42 am

    “Oh yeah” – he asked for ID, and Gates gave it to him. Proving he was in his own home – then he got arrested under the vague standard of being “disorderly” because he was upset he had to prove he was in his own home, i.e. something he had already done.

    Whatever happened to Republicans being for limited government?

    Oh yeah

    July 23rd, 2009
    12:20 pm

    He swhowed the officer his Harvard faculty badge; get your facts straight. Try showing your work ID to a cop the next time you’re pulled over and see what happens.

    Obviousman

    July 23rd, 2009
    12:34 pm

    “He swhowed the officer his Harvard faculty badge; get your facts straight. Try showing your work ID to a cop the next time you’re pulled over and see what happens.”

    This was in the man’s house. You don’t need a driver’s license to own a home.

    Oh yeah

    July 23rd, 2009
    12:45 pm

    Obama should have never opened his big mouth about this incident in the first place. This is for the local police to look into, not the President of the United States of America. This is all that Obama has on his plate these days, to talk about one so called racila incident and take up for a fellow black person who he admitted is a friend of his? Are we talking about Al Sharpton here or the President of the United States of America? The professor should have acted like an adult when the police officer was just trying to do his job and complied. I bet Obama saw his approval ratings just before he got up to read a teleprompter for 30 minutes and he couldn’t handle his 55% approval rating while at the same time in his presidency, Bush II had a 56% approval rating. I guess Obama is trying to appeal to a group he knows will always support him no matter how horrible of a job he’s doing and will continue to do. Why is everything about race when it comes to blacks in America? Every little thing…always the same song and dance…race..race..race.

    Obviousman

    July 23rd, 2009
    1:17 pm

    “This is for the local police to look into”

    Into themselves? Right. “Nothing to see here. Move along…”

    Will Jones - Atlanta

    July 23rd, 2009
    1:24 pm

    “Oh yeah” – Should you care to gain knowledge of the circumstances by which George W. Bush was illegally appointed POTUS you need merely google “Justice Breyer’s dissenting opinion on ‘Bush v. Gore.’” Only the five-justice Roman Catholic bloc disobeyed the Constitution’s stricture that “disputed Federal elections shall be resolved by Congress,” as well as well-established precedent.

    So NO: Bush was not the sovereign People’s elect. We peace-loving, long-suffering Patriots have by Grace been rewarded with a president whose manner proves his grace, for all “with a mind to know” to see.

    Your affinity “Oh Yeah” is with the “Fifth Column” of that which Our Founder identified correctly as “the real Anti-Christ.” Your life and proclivities, were you known and not anonymous, would reflect that affiliation.

    Americans are a forgiving but righteous People. Once this transition period is past, with the anointed President Obama guiding us, and a critical mass of citizens recognizes Mr. Jefferson’s truth, Bush and Cheney will hang for 9/11 and their fascist plutocracy which “brung ‘em” fully expropriated that Our Republic and Constitution be restored, by G-d.

    Annuit Coeptis

    P.S. I’ll not post for you the link to “The New Pearl Harbor” now. You’ve already no doubt skipped enlarging your intelligence and patriotism by reading it.

    Daedalus

    July 23rd, 2009
    1:36 pm

    I recall that a black guy in New York was sitting on his front porch and cops asked him for ID. When he reached to get his ID the cops shot him 41 times thinking he had a gun — which he didn’t — he just had his wallet.

    Its easy for us white people to identify with the cops — but I’m not so sure that can be said for african-americans. The notion from Chief Justice and other GOPers that since discrimination is illegal it does not exist has got to be about the biggest load of crap I’ve heard in a long-time.

    Oh yeah

    July 23rd, 2009
    2:08 pm

    No matter what happened in that house in Cambridge, it’s not Obama’s place to call out one race based incident. Obama has much, much bigger fish to fry than than to help out a buddy of his. Obviousman, are you not familiar with internal investigations? Did the APD not look into the wrongful death shooting of the elderly lady killed in a blotched drug raid and sentence the officers to prison? Daedalus, I am not consumed with white guilt like you appear to be. I treat people fairly and with respect, all people, including police officers. Try putting yourself in their shoes for the amount of money they make. Obama overstepped his boundries here.

    Will Jones - Atlanta

    July 23rd, 2009
    2:53 pm

    No “come-back” when presented facts and the proven truth.”

    What could one expect from a supporter of a draft-dodging closet-queen, cheated into office by only Roman Catholics on the SCOTUS, whose father killed Kennedy and King and whose grandfather financed Hitler and the Holocaust from the “Fifth Column’s” collection plates.

    Think the Rockefellers will reward you, too, “Oh yeah?”

    G-d is not mocked.

    Death for Treason

    Ben There

    July 23rd, 2009
    3:27 pm

    Hey guys , I am 45 . I was raised in Atlanta , and trained in Boston for over 9 years. As an African American I have been racial profiled by Boston Police, Atlanta Police ,Winder county Police, San Francisco Police and Maryland Police. It does occur and it is not localized to one part of the country.

    Can everyone agree, that a person probably would not wear a pink polo shirt khaki pants and loafers for a breaking and entering in the middle of the day.

    The Policeman was in a position of power and had been provided the skills and training to diffuse the situation , but the officer chose not to . All he had to say was thank you for your id and cooperation . When he was asked for his badge number and name as reported , he should have provided it , and the issue would have worked itself out at the police station. The policeman may prove to be technically within the policies, but I believe he provoked gates , by ignoring his request for his badge number and name. When interfacing with the police that is one of your only rights. Dont look at Gates reaction. He ended up in Jail. Ask yourself , what would make you, an average person so angry that you would act as he did. If the Law was not abiding by the law , it would provoke us all.

    He was insulted and violated in his own home. Who wouldn’t be angry. But let me understand , everyone expected him to be angry but not verbally express himself. We do have free speech. I did not report a physical threat made towards the officer in the officers report.

    Come on America , The officer should admit he got a little pissed by this arrogant , square poindexter guy and probably shouldnt have pushed to bring him in . If the officer doesnt see this , than he didnt learn anything in his police training.

    ABC

    July 23rd, 2009
    3:56 pm

    Read the police report, read it before you comment. The officer asked the man for ID with an address, the officer was 100% within his rights to do so. Gates demanded to taken to jail, all the while screaming that he’s another black man in America with a prison record. ( Set-up for a law suit) Gates staged the whole I am a victim scene. I am not surprised by his actions. I am sure Mr. Gates has been afforded many things in his life that given to him predicated on his race, just like Mr. Gates expected special treatment in this case, once again, predicated on his race.

    IHateCops

    July 24th, 2009
    11:22 am

    Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere! We should all be concerned with the actions of this police officer and the Cambridge Police Department. In my state, Michigan police officers killed a young (like 16) white boy because he was drunk. The attitude and behavior of police everywhere in this time is disgusting-they have too much absolute power and it is corrupting absolutely!. I don’t think this would have happened if the gentlemen was white but we are on are way to that circumstance if we don’t pay attention.

    omfg

    July 24th, 2009
    2:41 pm

    I am so tired of everything coming down to a racial incident. Every little thing, “wtf he step on my big toe, I’m calling Rev. Al Sharpton or Rev. Jackson. and let them cry all that they can.” truth being told that the African American public are not the minority any more. But with OBAMA in the house there will be a lot more crying.

    I think that Gates knew what he was doing and just want some national media attention and the police was as good as any. I certainly dislike police, but I gotta back them this time. When you go cash a check do you use your work I.D. or your license.

    Whisper

    July 24th, 2009
    4:12 pm

    It hasn’t come up yet, but eventually the media will drag this out and pounce on it: The reason for suspected racial profiling is the high crime rate blacks commit. Just look at Atlanta and the growing crime blacks commit in North Fulton. If blacks want to prevent racial profiling how about cleaning up your brand which is supported by violence and disrespect a la rap, hip hop, NBA, etc. Try focusing on etiquette, speaking right, dressing right per what corporations would like to see in their employees. That used to be the standard, but now white youth are copying your gangsta attitudes. Very sad and detrimental to America.

    STIMULUSXRESPONSE

    July 24th, 2009
    7:07 pm

    Come on now… as a white male in America, I’ve accepted the FACT that it’s my responsibility to take the blame for everything that happens to black people.. I’ve never owned slaves, tried to not discriminate against anyone – as hard as it is sometimes – I just have to tell myself that no matter what happens to black people, it’s my fault.. it doesn’t matter that even though blacks are in the minority of the population, they commit the biggest percentages of crimes… it doesn’t matter that all they do is piss and moan about discrimination and scream racism every time something doesn’t go their way or they’re being held responsible for committing a crime.. it doesn’t matter that blacks are the biggest racists that ever walked the face of the earth… they are entitled to their racist views and comments because they might have had some long lost ancestors that were slaves… hush now, it doesn’t matter that all kinds and colors of people have been enslaved throughout human history… blacks learned to make a business out of it and capitalize on the FACT that African leaders SOLD THEIR OWN PEOPLE INTO SLAVERY …. This idiot white cop should accept this fact too… it doesn’t matter that this neighborhood had recent burglaries and someone reported this black man that looked like he was breaking in to the house.. doesn’t matter that he did his job.. it’s his fault… LMAO