On today’s Fox News Sunday, presidential press secretary Robert Gibbs admitted President Obama had been prepared to answer questions about the Henry Louis Gates arrest at his press conference last week. Bret Baier, filling in for regular host Chris Wallace, asked Gibbs, “Before Wednesday’s news conference, did you prepare [the president] for a question about Henry Gates’s arrest in Cambridge?”
“Well, look,” said Gibbs, “Let’s just say it’s safe to say we went over a whole lot of topics that we thought might come up, and certainly this was a topic that was, has been in the news . . .” He then went on to try to un-ring the bell by repeating the line that the president “hadn’t calibrated his words well,” and blah, blah, blah, beer at the White House, blah, blah, blah.
So now we know that President Obama didn’t properly “calculate” his words about the Cambridge police “acting stupidly” even after being prepared for such a question in advance. Thus is revealed the president’s tone deafness in failing to anticipate the backlash such an answer might provoke.
And now we are told, in a further attempt at damage control, that the Gates arrest can serve to educate all those mouth-breathing cops out there who may yet stumble into an unpleasant encounter with some other Ivy Leaguer. It’s our hope, said Gibbs, invoking that insufferable locution that one hopes will soon fade from common usage, that the Gates arrest can be “part of a teachable moment.”
So, since the president is keen on offering instruction, here is what I would advise he teach his Ivy League pals, and anyone else who may find himself unexpectedly confronted by a police officer: You may be as pure as the driven snow itself, but you have no idea what horrible crime that police officer might suspect you of committing. You may be tooling along on a Sunday drive in your 1932 Hupmobile when, quite unknown to you, someone else in a 1932 Hupmobile knocks off the nearby Piggly Wiggly. A passing police officer sees you and, asking himself how many 1932 Hupmobiles can there be around here, pulls you over. At that moment I can assure you the officer is not all that concerned with trying not to offend you. He is instead concerned with protecting his mortal hide from having holes placed in it where God did not intend. And you, if in asserting your constitutional right to be free from unlawful search and seizure fail to do as the officer asks, run the risk of having such holes placed in your own.
When the officer has satisfied himself that it was not you and your Hupmobile that were involved in the Piggly Wiggly heist, he owes you an explanation for the stop and an apology for the inconvenience, but if you’re running your mouth about your rights and your history of oppression and what have you, you’re likely to get neither.
— Jack Dunphy is an officer in the Los Angeles Police Department. “Jack Dunphy” is the author’s nom de cyber. The opinions expressed are his own and almost certainly do not reflect those of the LAPD management.