Is it possible Barack Obama is using the whole Gates “stupid” remark to take some heat off his floundering health care ambitions? Or is this simply a “teachable moment?”
My suspicions were further aroused when he came out, at a specific time on a Friday afternoon at a White House press briefing, to discuss the matter. Neil Cavuto thinks the “stupid” remark is helping to derail health care, but could it be the other way around? The media and punditry discussion over the “stupid” remark is taking health care reform off the front page. Is that good or bad? If we were dealing with the Clinton Administration, I would think my theory is correct. That said:
Barack Obama managed to get it all wrong when it comes to cops and race. There are good cops and bad cops. The problem is Barack Obama appears to view the world through a black and white lens instead of eyes wide open.
For about a five year period I had a stalker. At least once a month, this guy would stand outside my bedroom windows and smoke. There was no more welcome sight than the flashing blue light of the local sheriff’s deputy as he would pull into the yard and try (once again) to figure out who this person was.
In cases like this cops have the habit of not taking the victim seriously, instead, basically accusing the victim, almost always a woman, of being a little bit “off”. This never happened to me. I kept a record of everything, to the point that our local sheriff actually made an appointment and came out to visit, discussing my options. Never once was I treated without total and complete respect.
It may have helped that at the time I was the owner of a very popular local gallery. My connections to the community went back nearly forty years. I was also the chairman of our local county GOP executive committee. I would like to think status had nothing to do with the excellent protection I received.
Oh, the option that worked? I moved clear across the country.
I left South Carolina with an excellent feeling about law enforcement. Cops were good, helpful individuals who had the best interests of the community at heart. This view of law enforcement was further enhanced by the local police department where I now live. They are the second-highest paid cops in New Mexico, which has something to do with the quality of law enforcement we have locally.
Contrast that with the community next to us. They have one of the lowest pay scales in the state, and some very incompetent cops who have (or have had) a penchant for harassing local high school students.
During the few years I worked with local teens, my view of law enforcement officials began to change. The addicted sister of one of the girls who would infrequently attend the youth group I led at church was roughed up by those same cops, to the point where her story appeared on one of the national evening news magazine. There were, and still are, rumors of several million dollars of liability suits pending.
Imagine my shock and dismay when I ran afoul of police harassment. I am Republican, Episcopalian, Caucasian. I fit all the “right” status groups. White women don’t get harassed by white cops, do they? If you’ve been listening to Barack Obama, only African Americans are harassed by cops; by white cops. This is where I think Barack Obama is so very, very wrong. There are bad cops of every race, theology and ideology. Some of them are racist; others are just plain bad. The one who harassed me was just plain bad.
Several years ago I was driving the parents’ Cadillac through a large southwestern city, which I will not name because I still fear the cops there. We were traveling, my mother in the front seat, my father napping on the back seat with the poodle. The back seat was cluttered with things for the puppy and several Louis Vuitton handbags. My father had a bag full of snack food and paperbacks.
I was less than a block from the entrance to the Interstate when a black-and-white pulled up behind me, its siren blasting. I’d done nothing wrong, was in the right lane, had stopped at all the lights. Nothing was wrong with the car. I knew enough not to pull over on the side of the rush-hour road, and drove another half-block to a large truck stop, where I drove into the parking lot in a highly visible location, and parked.
The white cop greeted me with a drawn hand-gun. His partner went to the other side of the car and held one on that side of the car. They demanded the usual license, registration, etc. which were in the pocket of the seat, behind me. They would not allow my eighty-year-old father to reach across the seat for it. Instead, the white cop (the other was Hispanic) held a gun on me while I climbed out of the car and went into the back seat to find the information. He then pushed me back in the car and held his gun on me while I rummaged through my purse for my license.
While he radioed for information on my past criminal activity, which included one stop sign violation in 1978, one speeding warning in 1988, and a speeding ticket the following week from the same highway patrol trooper (I’d just bought a new sports car, it was late at night, on a very straight stretch of back country highway), a warning for speeding in 1986 in Arizona from a very flirty, very cute cop, and a ticket for not having an updated copy of my insurance in 2002. There were also a few miscellaneous parking tickets, and I think there was a ticket from one of the most notorious speed traps in the country (in the top ten) in Clemson, SC. That was in 1985 or so. The parking tickets were also from Clemson.
The cop, obviously aware that he was dealing with a hardened criminal, opened the trunk and rummaged through it. He ordered the other office, a trainee, to go up under the car. He went through this song-and-dance for nearly a half hour, then finally he answered my question as to why we were stopped: I was not wearing my seat belt!
Once the cops left us after issuing a warning, I immediately drove up to the entrance of the truck stop, and parked. The moment I walked into the building, the manager handed me a phone and a phone number for internal affairs. It seems he and several others at the truck stop had been watching the whole incident and knew exactly what was happening.
I immediately called internal affairs and reported the guy. The truck stop manager told me the cop was dirty: local rumor was he was being investigated for stopping women and demanding sexual favors while holding them at gun point. The only thing that saved me was the fact that I was not traveling alone. After leaving the truck stop I called our local police department and asked about state policy on seat belts. I was informed everything the officer did was wrong and a violation of state law.
On my return trip through town, the same cop followed me through most of the city until I reached the town limits. This happened two other times when I was in that city, to the point where I refused to drive that specific car through town. I was terrified of him. Fortunately, he was arrested a few months later.
And that’s the problem with Barack Obama’s approach to Sgt. James Crowley. Clearly Sgt. Crowley’s approach to Dr. Henry Louis Gates was not racist. But, Dr. Gates' reaction to Sgt. Crowley was either racist, or more likely, grandstanding. Barack Obama either does not realize, or does not accept, the fact that African American cops can be racist toward whites, and white cops can be good. He also does not seem to accept the fact that sometimes there are just bad cops who do bad things to people of all races.
The entire incident proves that Barack Obama is basically out of touch with “real” America. If he were tuned into the rest of the country, he would realize that police harassment is not necessarily a racist thing, but a bad cop thing.
I am a white woman who was harassed by a white cop who was subsequently arrested and charged with sexual harassment, rape, and intimidation, dismissed from the force, and sentenced to a term in the state prison.