As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Obama Holds His Ground

The President just interrupted a press briefing with Robert Gibbs to further discuss the controversy over Henry Louis Gates. And while he acknowledged that his language could have been different, he pointedly did not apologize or submit that he said anything wrong.

Obama said he spoke directly with Crowley today and has extended an invitation to meet with the officer.

However, the president did not back away from his other remarks on racial profiling in America. “The fact that it has garnered so much attention, I think, is testimony to the fact that these are issues that are still very sensitive here in America,” he said.

“I continue to believe that there was an overreaction in pulling Professor Gates out of his home to the station,” he said. “I also continue to believe, based on what I heard, that Professor Gates probably overreacted as well.”

“My sense is you’ve got two good people in a circumstance in which neither of them were able to resolve the incident in the way it should have been, or the way they would have liked it to be resolved,” the president said.

Obama further rejected the criticism that as president he should not have weighed in at all. “That I disagree with,” he said. “Race is still a troubling aspect of our society. Whether I were a black or a white, I think me commenting on this and hopefully contributing to constructive as opposed to negative understanding about the issue is part of my portfolio.”

The president expressed frustration that the controversy has distracted from the conversation he’d rather be having. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but nobody’s been paying much attention to health care,” he quipped.

Greg Sargent has more. Good for him. The press can attack him all they want, but he is standing up on a legitimate policy issue - racial profiling and police misconduct - which will resonate for a hell of a lot of people in this country. The media might go nuts, but Obama was right to say what he said, and he's right to defend it.

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