Not Exactly the Great Kitchen Debate: The Rose Garden Putsch of 2009
The Eisenhower Administration had the Great Kitchen Debate – two stalwarts, Nixon and Kruschev, locking horns in a pointed debate over the ideological divide which distinguished America from its communist adversary, the Soviet Union. Unplanned, the debate became the symbol of the discourse which dominated post-war American-Soviet diplomacy, until the communist walls of oppression came tumbling down some thirty years later.
We, of course, have the benefit of video and audio tape of portions of this interchange – so we know exactly what was said. While perhaps more pithy than most discussions over international politics, the ideological struggle epitomized by the Nixonian jab and the Kruschevian sickle was at least worthy of the world’s attention.
The same can’t be said of Obama’s Beer Hall Putsch held yesterday in the White House Rose Garden. Little was it known, but this reporter was there and was able to catch most of the gripping conversation. It went like this:
Obama: Ok, gentlemen. Welcome to the First Annual White House Summit on Race Relations. Just kidding, guys. . . No, professor, you can’t sit there – we’re going black, white, black, white. (Gates moves to the next chair.) There you go, Skip. Good to see you.
Really – we’re just here for a friendly beer. In fact, I am so pleased, Sergeant Crowley, that you agreed to have a beer, because I was sure you would insist on a thermos of country club gin and tonics. Jokin’, dude . . . really.
Joe . . . Joe. . . not so fast, Joe – wait until all the people sit down before you guzzle it. (Turning to his guests) Joe is just so excited to be out in the fresh air – having been in lockdown for the last week since he pissed off the Russians.
Biden: Actually, you boys kind of took the heat off of me. Thank God, for the Oxford police.
Crowley: Sir, that’s the Cambridge police.
Biden: Oxford . . . Cambridge – what’s the difference, man?!
Obama: Careful, Joe – you’re going to insult our British allies next, if you aren’t careful.
Biden: hey, HEY!! Can we get some more suds, out here?!! Damn help – so damn slow over here – they hop at the OEOB for me. Wouldn’t be like this if I was president, that’s for damn sure. (Rahm Emanuel delivers another Growling Gator Lager to the vice president.) . . . about time, Rahmbo, Rahmborini, the Rahmman. (Turning to Gates and Crowley). Good guy . . . he let’s me do that, y’know.
Obama: Ok, Joe, take it easy. You all might wonder why I invited Joe along – well, I was in the Oval Office reflecting on my comments about you and your department, Sergeant Crowley, about how you all “acted stupidly” in handling my main man at his house (fist bump between Obama and Gates), when I looked out on the White House lawn and saw my good friend Joe on the South Lawn, turning in circles, imitating the propeller on Marine One and, I thought . . . now that’s “acting stupidly.” Frankly, that helped me put in context what I really thought of the way you all treated my man. You weren’t “acting stupidly” – you were just doing what came natural to you, police - being your bigoted selves.
Gates: I am not going to say a whole lot here, Barry, because Sergeant Crowley knows what he did.
Crowley: I resent this. I came here in the spirit of reconciliation to try and work through the turmoil which has upset me, my family, Professor Gates and, frankly, the entire nation.
Biden: (With a gentle squint and burp) Exactly. Well stated, white boy. (Drops his beer mug and spreads his fists to the right and left seeking a double fist bump from Gates and Obama. None are forthcoming.) J**** C****! What does someone have to do around here to get a little love?!! HEY, Rahmbo – another beer!!!
Crowley: I am serious, sir. I have no regrets about the way I handled matters, but I wish no ill will to Professor Gates. Are we good, Professor?
Gates: (Gates looks at Obama, who quietly nods.) We’re good, Sergeant.
Biden: (The vice president breaks out in song) “Can you feel the love tonight? How it’s laid to rest? It’s enough to make kings and vagabonds . . . ” (interrupted)
Obama: Joe, that’s enough. (Turning to his secret service detail – he points at the vice president and makes a dismissive gesture with his hand as if to say “time to take him back to lock-up.”)
Biden: (as he is grabbed by the arm and ushered away . . . he stamps his feet) But I want to stay!!!
Obama: Well, gentlemen, that was a highly successful summit. I am so pleased that we have turned this corner and, Skip, you can be assured that you will never be harassed in your home again by Sergeant Crowley and his people. Sergeant – so pleased that you could make it. (Stands up to leave, shakes both of their hands. He starts to walk away . . . turns.) Oh, by the way, that will be $10 each for the beer. Inflation, you know. Don’t worry about the tip, (flashing his big toothy grin) I got it.
So went the Rose Garden Putsch of 2009. This is Consuela Tanalotta from the White House.