Day 86- Second Hundred of the Obama Administration July 24 , 2009

 

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Day 86- Second Hundred of the Obama Administration July 24 , 2009

The President began his day with his economic and security briefings.

The President then met with Vice Prsident Biden. Following that meeting President Obama met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Max Baucus.

The President then had lunch with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The President then made an unscheduled visit to the Press Briefing Room to try to defuse a controrversy that grew as a result of his remarks at Wednesday's press conference in which he criticized the arrest of Harvary Professor Gates The President stated: I wanted to address you guys directly because over the last day and a half obviously there's been all sorts of controversy around the incident that happened in Cambridge with Professor Gates and the police department there.

I actually just had a conversation with Sergeant Jim Crowley, the officer involved. And I have to tell you that as I said yesterday, my impression of him was that he was a outstanding police officer and a good man, and that was confirmed in the phone conversation -- and I told him that.

And because this has been ratcheting up -- and I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up -- I want to make clear that in my choice of words I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sergeant Crowley specifically -- and I could have calibrated those words differently. And I told this to Sergeant Crowley.

I continue to believe, based on what I have heard, that there was an overreaction in pulling Professor Gates out of his home to the station. 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 that it should have been resolved and the way they would have liked it to be resolved.

The fact that it has garnered so much attention I think is a testimony to the fact that these are issues that are still very sensitive here in America. So to the extent that my choice of words didn't illuminate, but rather contributed to more media frenzy, I think that was unfortunate.

What I'd like to do then I make sure that everybody steps back for a moment, recognizes that these are two decent people, not extrapolate too much from the facts -- but as I said at the press conference, be mindful of the fact that because of our history, because of the difficulties of the past, you know, African Americans are sensitive to these issues. And even when you've got a police officer who has a fine track record on racial sensitivity, interactions between police officers and the African American community can sometimes be fraught with misunderstanding.

My hope is, is that as a consequence of this event this ends up being what's called a "teachable moment," where all of us instead of pumping up the volume spend a little more time listening to each other and try to focus on how we can generally improve relations between police officers and minority communities, and that instead of flinging accusations we can all be a little more reflective in terms of what we can do to contribute to more unity. Lord knows we need it right now -- because over the last two days as we've discussed this issue, I don't know if you've noticed, but nobody has been paying much attention to health care. (Laughter.)

The President then went to the Department of Education and announced a new program to award grants for a Race to the Top. Remarks

The President then met with his senior advisor before signing a proclomation celebrating the 19th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act.

In the evening the President and the first Lady atteneded the Marine Corps Evening .