Although he's called it a "teachable moment," I haven't quite figured out what his role is supposed to be. To lend a commiserating ear to the complaints of both men? It's probably over by now, but I was just wondering what it is that's being taught by the beer summit, and who it is that's being instructed. And what's in it for the white guy. If I were that latter fellow, I wouldn't go. Attending implies that there's a reason to attend. I'd go if Obama had said beforehand, "I'd like you to come to the White House so that I can apologize to you for having acted stupidly." It would be even more enticing if he'd added, "And so that I can advise that race-leech Henry Gates to apologize as well, and to crawl back into whatever academically protected pc fever swamp he crawled out of."
But what it's going to look like is that we have two men possessed by grievances of equal legitimacy, who will behave better toward each other next time around once Obie the Post-Racial Mediator has shown them a better way. Why is Officer Crowley sharing a beer with a man who thinks he's a racist? Does Crowley have something to apologize for? Is there something he can learn from Mr. Gates, the man who wrote on his Yale application, "As always, whitey now sits in judgment of me, preparing to cast my fate. It is your decision either to let me blow with the wind as a nonentity or to encourage the development of self. Allow me to prove myself," and whose resentment of whitey seems to have ripened with the years, along with his collection of academic honors and his general prosperity? "This isn't about me," he said on a morning talk show while contemplating a possible lawsuit. That's what people always say when they want to universalize their personal nuttiness. But no, he's just speaking for black people everywhere.
I know some black people for whom "being black in America" is awful. I know some white people like that too. But Henry Gates is not one of those for whom it is awful. Being black and Henry Gates in America is comparatively wonderful, especially if he can keep his mouth shut.
So what we have at the summit (which I think would have been more revealing if they'd thrown the bar open to other repasts, like vodka and whiskey and various foreign-grade wines) is one tenured, racial crank whose alternate reality will be found worth exploring, one liberalism-on-steroids politician whose mediocrity is revealed in his preference for stereotypes over facts, and one cop who did his job. No, I don't see anything in this for the white guy at all.
Except beer. It's free, so he should drink a lot of it, claiming as excuse that this is not about him, but about upholding the reputation of hard-drinking Irish cops everywhere. Anybody know how many Obama had?