The Gates Answer

by Patrick Appel

The furor over Obama's answer to a question about Gates' arrest is, as Yglesias notes, utterly predictable. I'm mostly in agreement with Josh Marshall:

The political press is all atwitter over this, a bit like just after two high school kids square off for a fight but just before the punches start flying. But let's be honest: this is all about a black guy getting on the side of another black guy who got crosswise with the cops. Why would he touch such a powder keg?

The answer obviously distracts from the message, as Megan notes:

That's how a machine ranked the stories, based on reader response. The Gates story is sucking up the public's very limited attention span for health care. I was already pretty skeptical that this was going to do much good.  Outside of elections and wars, it's hard to get people to watch a presidential address at the best of times.  Late July is not the best of times.  You don't want to counterprogram a wonkathon when people can flip to "So You Think You Can Dance" or wander outside to drink in the summer evening.  Maybe it will move the poll numbers, but frankly, I'd be surprised.

It could be a rope-a-dope, the president making his critics overplay their hand once again.