President Obama's comments on Henry Louis Gates, Jr. last night have sparked some ambivalence and ambiguity. It became the secondary, and, in some cases, the primary headline from last night's event, which was thoroughly about healthcare until those last two minutes, when Lynn Sweet asked Obama what he thought of Gates, the revered Harvard scholar and race relations expert, getting arrested by Cambridge, Massachusetts police for disorderly conduct while trying to jimmy his way into his own house, having forgotten his key.
The Cambridge police "acted stupidly in arresting someone when there was already proof that they were in their own home," Obama said, which became the front page headline on today's Boston Globe. He also joked that he'd "get shot" if he were caught in the same situation at the White House.
Here at the Politics channel, Marc suggested Obama may have to walk back the "stupidly" comment, given that cops might not understand its application to the Cambridge Police Dept. en masse.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) was less ambivalent about the comment this afternoon, when it used the comment to hit Democratic congressmen from Massachusetts, confronting them with the remark as an affront to law enforcement officials on Obama's part.
The NRCC sent a press release to the districts of the state's 11 Democratic representatives, asking if each one shares Obama's opinion of the Cambridge police.
"Now that Cambridge police have been hit with this allegation by the White House, will [Rep. X] follow suit?" the NRCC asks.
After that lede and an excerpt of Obama's comments from Politico's story, here's how the rest of the release reads:
"Does [Rep. X] believe President Obama's comments were becoming of someone who holds the highest office in the land?" said NRCC Communications Director Ken Spain. "The president was slow to point out any wrongdoing in the wake of the Iranian election and his administration was quick to force through a failed stimulus plan even though they 'misread' the economy. This is certainly a questionable rush to judgment coming from a president who hasn't exactly been quick to call out unconscionable behavior by a merciless foreign dictator or gotten his facts straight before advocating a trillion-dollar mistake to address our ailing economy. Is it really presidential for him to cast harsh judgment of a law enforcement official without all the facts? These questions warrant an answer from Michael Capuano."
[Rep. X] has acted quickly and without foresight as he pushes President Obama's job-killing agenda. Now that the President has started hurling insults from the White House at local law enforcement officers, will his loyal follower continue to play along?
The release was sent to the districts of Reps.Michael Capuano, William Delahunt, Barney Frank, Stephen Lynch, Jim McGovern, Ed Markey, Richard Neal, John Olver, John Tierney, and Nikki Tsongas, plus Rep. Brad Ellsworth of Indiana.