A guest on the Rachel Maddow show contended that the beer summit was not a teachable moment, for teachable moments can only take place in academe, after significant and laboured research; I think that is academic nonsense. Most people aren't interested in what Brown University or any other institution says or does. It was a teachable moment: the President is a conciliator, the Sargeant and the Professor are reasonable men who agreed to disagree and talked about it with one another. That is important.
And there is more.
Brewing Up the Best Headlines
The arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., the black Harvard professor, and the ensuing racially charged contretemps presumably were not much fun for the people involved. But it was a boon for headline writers in the dead of summer. Here are some of the takes on Thursday’s White House meeting over beers featuring President Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Sgt. James Crowley and Professor Gates:
- “Over beers, a taste of what’s to come” — The Boston Globe
- “Happy hour” — Chicago Sun-Times
- “Obama cheers a ‘teachable moment’ over beer with Gates, Crowley” — Los Angeles Times
- “TOUCH OF GLASS” — New York Daily News
- “BREW-HAHA” — New York Post
- “A sippable moment” — The Philadelphia Inquirer
- “Controversy Comes to a Head Over Drinks in the White House Beer Garden” — Wall Street Journal
- “It Wasn’t One for the Guinness Book” — The Washington Post
- “Lager-Heads No More” — The Washington Times
And there is more still. A blog entry in the NY Times about the Professor's point of view. Alas, I have not found anything about the Sargeant's POV.
In a telephone interview after leaving the White House, Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. spoke enthusiastically about meeting Cambridge Sgt. James Crowley on neutral ground, and said the story was not over. He indicated that the two of them would get together again soon in Cambridge.
Mr. Gates, a longtime professor at Harvard, said that he had brought his 96-year-old father to the White House, along with his two grown daughters, his brother and his fiancée. The Gates and Crowley families were taken on separate tours of the White House but met up in the library, Professor Gates said.
“Nobody knew what to do,” he said, “so I walked over, stuck up my hand and said, ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you.’ That broke the awkwardness.”
The professor and the police sergeant have been much in the news of late, ever since Mr. Gates was arrested by Sergeant Crowley at his Cambridge home. Mr. Obama arranged a get-together over beers on Thursday evening, in an effort to ease the tensions that had arisen in the interim. (We live-blogged the event on Thursday.)
Upon their initial exchange at the White House, the professor said that he made a proposal: that he and Sergeant Crowley meet for lunch at River Gods, a popular Cambridge pub, some time in the near future. The sergeant accepted the invitation, he said.
For his part, Sergeant Crowley spoke immediately after the White House meeting on the lawn: “What you had today was two gentlemen who agreed to disagree on a particular issue,” he said, in a 15-minute news conference after the session. “We didn’t spend too much time dwelling on the past, and we decided to look forward.”