American Morning

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July 31st, 2009
06:01 AM ET

Obama, Biden, professor, officer sit down over brews

Sgt. James Crowley and professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. sat down with the president and vice president Thursday.

Sgt. James Crowley and professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. sat down with the president and vice president Thursday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama sat down for a beer at the White House Thursday night with a top African-American professor and the police officer who arrested him earlier this month.

They were joined by a previously unannounced guest, Vice President Joe Biden.

Sgt. James Crowley and Henry Louis Gates Jr., both dressed in suits, sat down with Obama and Biden, who both had their white dress shirt sleeves rolled up.

Video from the meeting showed mugs of beer being delivered to the men, who sat at a round table at the edge of the White House's Rose Garden, munching peanuts and pretzels from silver bowls.

The president was drinking Bud Light, Biden was drinking Buckler (a nonalcoholic beer), Gates was drinking Samuel Adams Light and Crowley was drinking Blue Moon.

After the meeting, Crowley told reporters that the men had a "cordial and productive discussion," in which they agreed to move foward rather than dwell on past events.

He said he and Gates plan to meet again and will speak by telephone to finalize details in the coming days. Both men bring different perspectives, he said, but he would like to hear more about Gates' views.

"It was a private discussion. It was a frank discussion," Crowley said of the meeting, but would not divulge specifics except to say that no one apologized.

Gates was arrested July 16 and accused of disorderly conduct after police responded to a report of a possible burglary at his Boston-area home. The charge was later dropped. The incident sparked a debate about racial profiling and police procedures.

After the meeting, the renowned Harvard professor reflected on the significance of the event and thanked Obama for arranging the meeting.

Keep reading this story »


Filed under: Controversy
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Elijah

    iT WAS A NICE GESTURE ! The facts of that situation was my concern.Charges dropped means something. Men should not be arrested in thier homes or on the porch unless a law has been broken.Telling the Police to leave your home isn't a crime. Police officers are civil servants who work for the tax payers.Police officers can sometimes lost their place in life.Courtesy,Professionalism,Respect to public is thier responsibility.

    August 16, 2009 at 5:58 am |
  2. Jerry Lynch

    From the college Professors I've meet I would say that Gates considers himself as the elite and everyone else is below him.

    From the police officers I've meet I would say Crowley is very demanding and pushie.

    How could these two guys ever agree on what happen. Neither knows how to act with respect for there fellow man.

    August 3, 2009 at 7:19 pm |
  3. CHUCK

    Kirk @ What the hell do you know about socialism ? You are racially disturbed.

    August 3, 2009 at 9:08 am |
  4. Vee

    Shame on PROFESSOR Gates. At a book signing on Martha's Vineyard, he referred to the officer who arrested him as "Crowley." So what if he was saying that he liked him. If memory serves, their first meeting went horribly wrong pretty much at the moment PROFESSOR Gates was alleged to have said, "Don't you know who I am?" A man so caught up in his own self-image should know better than to omit Sgt. Crowley's rank when addressing him or referring to him. And I'll bet he'd react badly if Sgt. Crowley publicly referred to him as "Gates." I guess PROFESSOR Gates believes he's the only one who deserves respect for his accomplishments.

    August 3, 2009 at 7:22 am |
  5. Bernice

    Politically incorrect, Can they even survive here without using the race card around every corner? The use of the "race card" in America, IS THE PROBLEM! Discrimination happens to everyone, not just ONE certain race, so why not just stop playing the card?? It really is useless and only hurts people. It fuels the racism in this country and should be conrtolled by everyone.

    August 2, 2009 at 6:53 am |
  6. ronvan

    This whole situation was blown way out of proportion. Our president made a mistake by even addressing it. Gates was the protagonist in this event. If anything ever happens that he needs the police again, if they are smart they will send 6 or 7 cops, of various races so that Gates, the suppossedly well educated and well to do African American, won't be intimidated by the police! While everyone is talking about race relations did you notice the comments about others being upset because it was not thier product that was named? What a joke!

    August 1, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  7. Politically incorrect

    The teaching moment that Obama talks about should be how often Afiricans play the race card with dealing with cops or whites in general.

    August 1, 2009 at 9:14 am |
  8. Diane

    I respect President Obama's effort to take the high ground, especially in light of his desire to focus on the health care issue. We all have our opinions and likely will hold fast to these views. However, I am concerned about the huge discrepancy that exists between Crawley's report that 2 black males were allegedly seen breaking into a house and the 911 caller's adamant denial of ever uttering the word black anything on the phone or in-person after Crawley arrived on the scene. Someone is lying, and it seems that the officer is the one with motive. Either he wrote the police report in a manner to fit the situation after the fact or he unwittingly documented an assumption/sterotype along the lines of criminality equals black males. Irrespective of people's positions, I can better understand (although not agree) if can identify the truth. What I can't sift through is a host of lies. I earnestly believe the truth can set us all free. I just wish some respectable reporter would take an interest in this case and get to the bottom of this issue because I do believe the truth is out there. The 911 caller and Crawley both can't be telling the truth. Here's a story worth chasing because it can set those deniers of diverse people's reality on a course towards potential enlightenment. Regardless of the mean spirited bigots who are out there, there are really balanced, fair, and decent individuals out there who value not only other humans but also the singular truth.

    July 31, 2009 at 8:16 pm |
  9. Lottie Godsil

    If the responding officer had been black, perhaps Prof. Gates would not have had that big chip on his shoulder and the whole thing would have been a non-event.
    If the white officer had not checked to be sure there was no invader inside the house (2 men had been reported breaking in), he would have been accused of not being thorough because the Prof. was black.
    I believe the officer acted properly and Prof. Gates was rude and confrontational. The racism was on his part, NOT the officer's.

    July 31, 2009 at 6:02 pm |
  10. Bernice

    Gates should have just appologized, but he was much too good for that now, wasn't he? Is it really true that he is writing a documentary/book about racism issues in the United States? Well then, maybe this is why there was a disturbance to begin with. MONEY..... this would help to sell books, wouldn't it? Sorry that this happeto you, Sgt. Crawley! And to all of the police officers nationwide! What a smack in the face! Look what happens when you try to protect and serve! Unbelievable!

    July 31, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  11. M. Elaine Wilson

    What a bunch of show dogs! Grow up. Gates had jetlag, poor baby didn't feel good and the nasty officer and concerned citizen were trying to protect his home while he was in China. (Don't buy the dog food!) Say thank you Mr. Gates and go to bed.

    I don't appreciate the waste of attention given to this when we have so many important issues to address. I watch CNN for news and E for the Hollywood garbage.

    July 31, 2009 at 12:27 pm |
  12. Kirk

    Below is an article that I found from the Canadian Press and it is spot on with this new President. To add to his EGO is the fact that through many comments made by his wife (the first lady), his pastor and now his own comments lends us all to believe he is a RACIEST. As well he is demonstrating that his actions are taking power and respect from the position of the President of the United States of America.

    "A shallow, manipulative and egotistical amateur who is in over his head" The Canadian Press.

    http://www.thecanadianpress.com/about_cp.aspx?id=104

    Obama's White House is Falling Down
    By Daniel Greenfield Thursday, June 11, 2009

    In the sixth month of his presidency, Obama has turned an economic downturn into an economic disaster, taking over and trashing entire companies, and driving the nation deep into deficit spending expected to pass 10 trillion dollars.

    Abroad, Obama seems to have no other mode except to continue on with his endless campaign, confusing speechmaking with diplomacy. It is natural enough that Obama, who built his entire campaign on high profile public speeches reported on by an adoring press, understands how to do nothing else but that.

    Ego driven photo op appearances and clueless treatment of foreign dignitaries

    While the press is still chewing over Obama's Cairo speech, this celebrity style coverage ignores the fact that Obama's endless world tour is not actually accomplishing anything. Instead his combination of ego driven photo op appearances and clueless treatment of foreign dignitaries have alienated many of America 's traditional allies. Those who aren't being quietly angry at Obama, like Brown, Merkel or Netanyahu, instead think of him as as absurdly lightweight, as Sarkozy, King Abdullah or Putin do.

    While his officials carry out their dirty economic deeds, Obama responds to any and every crisis as if it were a Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland musical, with a cry of, "Let's put on a show." Thus far Obama has put on "shows" across America , Europe and the Middle East . And what the adoring media coverage neglects to cover, is that Obama's shows have solved absolutely nothing. They have served only as high profile entertainment.

    Neither alienating America 's traditional allies, through a combination of arrogant bullying and ignorance, nor appeasing America 's enemies, has yielded any actual results. Nor does it seem likely to. Islamic terrorism is not going anywhere, neither are the nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran . While Obama keeps smiling, the global situation keeps growing more grim.

    At home, if Obama was elected as depression era entertainment, the charm of his smiles and his constant appearances on magazine covers appear to be wearing thin on the American public. Despite the shrill attacks on Rush Limbaugh or the Republican Enemy of the Weak– the Democratic party of 2009, is polling a lot like the Republican party of 2008. The Democrats have suddenly become the incumbents, and the only accomplishment they can point to is lavish deficit spending, often on behalf of the very same corporations and causes they once postured against.

    The European Union Parliament's swing to the right cannot be credited to Obama, though doubtlessly some European voters seeing socialist economic crisis management on display in the world's richest country decided they wanted none of it, but it is part of a general turning against federalism. And Obama's entire program is dependent on heavily entrenching federalism at the expense of individual and state's rights. Yet that is precisely his achilles heel with independent voters who are polling against more taxes and expanded government. And no amount of speeches by Obama can wish away his 18 czars or the national debt he has foisted on generation after generation of the American people.

    That leaves Obama with a choice between socialism and the independent voter. And thus far he has chosen socialism.

    Obama's tactic of hijacking Bush Administration era policies on the economy and the War on Terror, and exploiting them as trojan horses to promote his own agenda, have left him coping with a backlash from his own party, as well as general Republican opposition.

    His Czars are meant to function as the bones in an executive infrastructure accountable to no one, but a lack of accountability isn't just another word for tyranny, but for incompetence. A functional chain of command is accountable at multiple levels if it is to function effectively. Obama's White House by contrast is in a state of over-organized chaos, the sort of organized disorganization that undisciplined egotistical leftists naturally create for themselves, complete with multiple overlapping levels of authority and no one in charge but the man at the top, who's too busy doing other things to actually be in charge.

    Dennis Blair as National Intelligence, who collaborated with the Muslim genocide of Christians in East Timor , trying to muscle out the CIA to create his own intelligence network, is typical of the kind of chaos being spawned by every chief in an expanding government bureaucracy working to make sure that all the Indians answer to him. Similarly the National Security Council wrestling with the State Department, highlighted by Samantha Power getting her own specially created NSC position to butt heads with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, illustrates the state of conflict and chaos in American foreign affairs A state of chaos so pervasive that incompetence has now become commonplace, and no one can even be found to double check the spelling of a Russian word that is meant to be the theme of American's diplomatic reconstruction with Russia , or to pick out a gift for the visiting British Prime Minister.

    The death of Chrysler at the hands of Fiat and the UAW

    Meanwhile on the economy, Obama exploited the ongoing bailouts, transforming them from bailouts into takeovers meant to shift the balance of power in what had been a democracy and socially engineer not only corporations, but the lives of ordinary Americans. But the public's patience with corporate bailouts is at an end, most Americans were never happy with them to begin with, and want them to end. The death of Chrysler at the hands of Fiat and the UAW might look like a victory in the union ranks, but it doesn't play too well outside Detroit . And tacking on CAFE standards that will kill the pickup truck and the SUV will badly erode Obama in the swing states, if exploited properly in 2010 and 2012. Despite the constant media barrage, orchestrated out of the White House, the public is growing disenchanted with the performance of Obama and the Democrats.

    With unemployment booming and the economy dropping, the jobs aren't there and the spending is out of control. Republicans today are polling better on ethics and the economy, than the Democrats are. That shows a trend which is likely to register in the mid-term elections in 2010, in the same way that the EU parliamentary elections served as a shock to the system.

    In the opposition, Republicans are free to embrace the rhetoric of change, to champion reform and push libertarian ideas about the size and scope of government. In turn all Obama has is his celebrity fueled media spectacle world tour. A charade now serving as a parallel to the depression era entertainment that functioned as escapism in a dour time. But before long, it may be Obama that the American public will want to escape from.

    A shallow, manipulative and egotistical amateur who is in over his head

    Obama has tried to play Lincoln, Reagan, JFK and FDR– but in the end he can only play himself, a shallow, manipulative and egotistical amateur who is in over his head, and trying to drag the country down with him. Obama's White House is falling down and while the flashbulbs are still glittering and the parties are going on in D.C. and around the world, Obama and the Democratic Congress may be headed for a recession of their own.

    July 31, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  13. tina

    I think the police officer is making excuses to save his own skin. He calls him self 'not a racist' and direct his statement as if the 'other people' took it the wrong way. Instead of saying 'Hey what i said was wrong'. Another police officer saving his own skin. I'm just glad Gates was safe. Cause if the police officer shot Gates in his home then he could have made up anything. Like most do and it was proven that he -the police officer- falsified the report. Also saying that a man like gates said something about talking about his mother was a 'stereotype'. But i wished Gates would have gotten the cop car number and lisence plate cause they could have tracked the car cause i did the same thing when knew someone that was being racially profiled and i told the person to get the car number and tag when the police refuse to tell you their name and badge number. Just because this incident was smooth over doesn't mean that racial profiling has stopped. As long as we have cops that are racists racial profiling will not stop.

    July 31, 2009 at 8:31 am |
  14. joe

    Ok I don't get this whole issue, it shouldn't be an issue its not over race it's over a cop with an ego. Four men sitting around a table, three of them in an exclusive position that takes hard work and schooling to get into and a cop, a job that only requires a GED and to be over 21. I actually support racial profiling and other types of profiling up to a point(it would have helped us a lot before 911). Police work is hard but instead of letting his ego getting in the way officer Crowley should have acted like a "professional" ,recognized the situation and left. The major problem that should be addressed is police support each other before what is deemed right by the public which is who they work for. This thing should not fade away, Gates should press charges for trespassing, false imprisonment and battery. Why are cops making a big deal over what Obama said, do they make a big deal when a judge or lawyer makes a comment in court? Obama is a lawyer.

    July 31, 2009 at 8:19 am |
  15. CHUCK

    The entire CNN crew should take TIME-OFF and have some brew because while on air "they just stink". No other net-work can beat a dead horse like CNN. This is sad news.

    July 31, 2009 at 8:18 am |
  16. Pam Wylie

    Buddies are wiser!

    July 31, 2009 at 8:08 am |
  17. Mason Dixon

    When President Obama invited Mr Gates and Mr Crowley to sit down together it was to look to the future. I believe the teachable moment for our great country is to learn to bring our issues to the table in an equitable open to listening and learning from each other fashion. Our country (partly due to divisive media) has spent too much energy being at odds when in reality we are probably not all that far apart in our goals for the nation. If we could learn one thing from this it should be to open our hearts and minds to communication, listening to all sides and just maybe a bit of compromise. A good start would be to bring congress and the senate together. Elimate the "crossing the aisle" by mixing up the seating arrangement. What a concept, actually sitting down next to someone you perceive as a polar opposite and learning your commonalities along with your differences.

    July 31, 2009 at 8:07 am |
  18. Wendy Dembeck

    Lucia Whelan who was doing her civic duty should have been there as the real teachable moment! She was vilified rather than honored, proving no good deed goes unpunished. Had it been a real burglery, she was being her neighbor's keeper. She was exactly the kind of good samaritan we neeeded after the Kitty Genovese fiasco many years ago. THIS WAS THE TEACHABLE MOMENT OUR PRESIDENT TOTALLY MISSED!

    July 31, 2009 at 7:40 am |
  19. Karen Kerber

    I am responding to the MAYHEM which has been the respsonse from our media regarding our President and fellow guests having a beer at a meeting. OMG. Is this just another sign of human intellience?? I am embarrassed as a US Citizen that we are even spending time on this via MEDIA and it angers me so I have to send in my comment. Get a life people! Hey I remember my first beer!!
    Karen

    July 31, 2009 at 7:34 am |
  20. Steve

    Okay...Use your immagination...All 4 sitting there drinking their beer, none are used to drinking. They finish their beers and look at each other through "BEER GOGGLES" What does each one see?

    July 31, 2009 at 7:27 am |
  21. Jon, Conneaut, Oh

    Beerversation

    July 31, 2009 at 7:11 am |
  22. David from WI

    I have learned form this and please read it all (it is two posts i made from the wing nut thread I wrote)

    I think Beck isn’t as bad by a long shot and this is why. Beck admits he MIGHT be full of crap and you have to think for yourself and no be led. He comes across as nuts but he doesn’t say is might not be (if you know what I mean)

    Maher is so GD arrogant and holier than thou. He seems to be so smug and superior. He as disdain for those he this are ‘below’ him yet not even attempt to try to under stand them.

    Not a great comparison.

    Beck seems like he can LEARN and admit wrong Maher it is beneath him as are many Americans it would seem if you would listen to him.

    I could be wrong. I am just an idiot just ask Maher 🙂

    Beck calling the pres a racist well yeah a bit too far. Thing it the pres isn’t exactly helping his own image. Rev Wright (how ever his name is spelled) The presidents last few comments and whole Gates Cop issue, even friends with radical Ayers doesn’t help him and his willingness to not stick up for his family doesn’t help him does it?

    Beck went to far but his on confusion isn’t just his. I don’t think the pres is a racist but I am more confused every time these things happen.

    Why would Bill Mahr say what he says (arrogant leftest jerk OK)
    Beck,, Doesn’t know what is going on and has theories that might me WAYYY off but when the president own actions leads to more questions it doesn’t help.

    I am a man on medicare that is 42 because I am disabled. The right might ignore people like me. But he left like Mahr would look down at me and Use me and their own far left past scare me. Their arrogance is pathetic.

    I would rather be ingord than used any day.

    Those two black professors you had on around 5:30 Central I think I could relate to SOOOOO much more and listen to and LEARN FROM than a man such as Prof Gates (sorry or Mr Roland Martin) Those men ‘I’ could have a gin and tonic with (sorry to my German/Austrian ancestors beer isn’t my first choice)

    May be I am wrong it wouldn’t be the first time but arrogance and privilege and class anger me more than wealth power or race (that might seem dumb but I do try to grow if not be a bit of a jerk sometimes myself)

    (I am also not a pro writer or journalist either)

    July 31, 2009 at 6:59 am |
  23. Jazz

    I see this as a step in the right direction as we are at a racial crossroads in this country and this was an American way of resolving
    a critical issue the old fashion way... simply sitting down and talking about it... We are all human and no one is perfect. Sitting down with one another for crucial conversations like this one reminds us of how important racial harmony is to our countries future!

    July 31, 2009 at 6:45 am |
  24. Mitch Dworkin - Dallas, Texas

    I think that President Obama made a huge mistake to negatively comment about an incident that he admitted he did not know all of the facts about when it involved Professor Gates who is a friend of his.

    I think that Professor Gates made a big mistake to resist Sgt. Crowley because you are always supposed to cooperate the police when they ask you to do something. You can always file a complain after the incident if you think that the policeman was out of line.

    Sgt. Gates may have gone too far to arrest Professor Gates but I will not make a judgment about that because I was not there to see what happened.

    The White House meeting that Obama and Biden had with Gates and Crowley was nice and it was a good photo-op BUT it is definitely time to move on from this incident in my very strong opinion!

    None of the dialogue about this incident is helping me to find a job, it is not saving any lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it is not delivering health care to anybody. Every moment that politicians and the news media focus on this incident going forward is time that is not helping the economy, is time that lives are not being saved in the wars we are fighting, and it is doing nothing to deliver real health care reform!

    We definitely need to move on from this incident where politicians and the news media focus on real issues that are affecting the lives of everyone, the wars we are fighting, and dealing with dictators in North Korea, Iran, and in other rogue countries who are a potential threat to the rest of the world. Is anybody ready to tell me that politicians and the news media continuing to talk about Gates and Crowley will do anything to effectively deal with the serious issues affecting everybody that I mentioned?

    July 31, 2009 at 6:38 am |
  25. Mona King

    So who is in charge of the country when both the President and VP are getting "tanked" on the south lawn?

    July 31, 2009 at 6:21 am |
  26. Marion White

    The police officer that made that horrifying comment should be fired. I'm white and work and live in an 80 percent African American neighborhood and there is no doubt in my mind this was a spontaneous burst of racial thinking in this police officers mind. It also wouldn't surprise me if he intentionally did this in hopes of being caught maybe he wanted notoriety. We all have fear and think thoughts that maybe considered racial but this goes beyond that. This comment shows how he feels and describes his feelings and perceptions of the "Black" community. I was sick at this comment. I dated a black man a couple years ago who said and I quote "I hate my people". Well now I know how he felt. I hate my people today after that comment.

    July 31, 2009 at 6:14 am |