Crowley, Obama speak after "beer summit"

The president issues a statement, while the sergeant says he plans to meet again with the professor he arrested

By Alex Koppelman
Published July 31, 2009 12:01AM (EDT)

The Story That Would Not Die may now finally, blissfully, be over. The "beer summit" involving President Obama, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the man who arrested Gates, Sgt. Joseph Crowley, took place Thursday evening after a day full of absurd amounts of hype. MSNBC even put a countdown on its screen, showing viewers exactly how much time was left until the meeting.

And for all that, not much in the way of actual news was made. The three men, joined by Vice President Biden, sat and had a drink and some bar snacks and talked, and there was live, breathless coverage from the networks. Afterward, both Obama and Crowley had a little to say about the whole thing, but not much.

Here's Obama's full statement, as released by the White House:

I am thankful to Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley for joining me at the White House this evening for a friendly, thoughtful conversation. Even before we sat down for the beer, I learned that the two gentlemen spent some time together listening to one another, which is a testament to them. I have always believed that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart. I am confident that has happened here tonight, and I am hopeful that all of us are able to draw this positive lesson from this episode.

Not long after that statement was released, Crowley held a press conference. He didn't disclose the details of the conversation he'd had, and appeared to be pretty well-coached in how not to make further news. But he did say he and Gates have already planned another meeting, that no one at this one apologized to anyone else and that Obama hadn't talked much -- he was there to facilitate conversation between the arresting officer and the arrestee -- but seemed like a normal guy.

If you now feel like you need a beer, or maybe 14 of them, I'm right there with you.

Update: And Gates has weighed in as well, with a piece posted on In it, among other things, he says:

Sergeant Crowley and I, through an accident of time and place, have been cast together, inextricably, as characters – as metaphors, really – in a thousand narratives about race over which he and I have absolutely no control .... At this point, I am hopeful that we can all move on, and that this experience will prove an occasion for education, not recrimination. I know that Sergeant Crowley shares this goal. Both of us are eager to go back to work tomorrow. And it turns out that the President just might have a few other things on his plate as well.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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