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I don’t know all the facts BUT…

From: I Like to Know What I’m Talking About Before I Speak
To: I don’t know all the facts BUT…

Wednesday the President gave his 4th televised news conference since taking office to address public concerns about Health Care Reform. While the majority of the evening was spent discussing health care and the economy, the last question provided a highlight:

LYNN SWEET: Thank you, Mr. President. Recently, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested at his home in Cambridge. What does that incident say to you? And what does it say about race relations in America?

Now at this point I was fully expecting the President to make some statement that while he was troubled about the incident in question, he wouldn’t want to interfere in what should be an investigation handled by local officials. Or to simply say he wanted to keep the evenings discussions to health care and the economy. I should have known better.

Transcript of the Presidents response

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I — I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here.

I don’t know all the facts. What’s been reported, though, is that the guy forgot his keys, jimmied his way to get into the house; there was a report called into the police station that there might be a burglary taking place.

“I don’t know all the facts.” Normally I would be happy that a president can admit that he is not an all knowing G’oracle of known knowledge, especially one that has been ordained by so many as The One. Its not the admission that bothers me; it’s that he continued speaking on the incident afterwards.

He continued again admitting what he didn’t know. “I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that.” So I was taken back yet again when he flatly said “the Cambridge police acted stupidly”. Now in Cambridge, we have an obviously regrettable incident between a black professor and the police, one that should be thoroughly investigated by internal affairs to see if and how race played a role in the events that transpired. But how can any such investigation take place and ensure fair treatment of the officers once the President has so heavily weighed in?

“I don’t know all the facts.” It’s a point I keep coming back to because I expected more from President Obama. Why? Because way back in his 2nd News Conference on March 24th he said this:

“I Like to Know What I’m Talking About Before I Speak”
It was the reason why he wasn’t initially outraged about the AIG bailouts.
“I Like to Know What I’m Talking About Before I Speak”
It was the reason why he was able to skirt not taking a strong stance against the fraudulent elections in Iran .
“I Like to Know What I’m Talking About Before I Speak”
It was the reason why he could sit down with the Russians even while they still have troops occupying half of Georgia from their illegal 2008 invasion.
“I Like to Know What I’m Talking About Before I Speak”
It was the reason you could even entertain the idea of the President meeting with rogue regimes, shaking hands with Khadafi, swapping books with Chavez.
“I Like to Know What I’m Talking About Before I Speak”

Perhaps I’m being too hard on the President. Perhaps this is apples and oranges. In some cases we need to wait for facts to come to light, while in others we don’t need to know them at all and we can just speak from empathy. Perhaps Obama thinks Iran, AIG, and Putin’s Russia are simply more trustworthy than the Cambridge police department, and that is why they get the benefit of the doubt.

But let’s be clear, this isn’t a situation where an intelligence agency is waiting for facts to come to light from some secretive regime halfway around the world, or from some CBO contract lawyer pouring over 1000s of pages of complex compensation agreements. This is a police report and if the President really wanted to know all the facts, he could have the Cambridge police chief and the university president personally brief him every morning.

“I Like to Know What I’m Talking About Before I Speak”
Mr. President next time you don’t know all the facts,  don’t speak, just appoint another czar.

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