July 30th, 2009
12:56 PM ET
5 years ago

Will 'beer summit' quench thirst for harmony or go flat?

WASHINGTON (CNN) – White House spokesman Robert Gibbs is trying to downplay expectations for Thursday night's "Beer Summit", saying President Obama "is not going to announce anything" in terms of new initiatives to address racial profiling and will not address reporters when they are briefly let in to take pictures of the confab.

"You won't hear from the president," Gibbs told reporters. "You won't hear from the glass of beer."

Gibbs said Obama simply hopes "this will help foster a dialogue" by bringing together the president's friend, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and the man who arrested him, Sgt. Jim Crowley of the Cambridge, Massachusetts police department, over a few beers.

Gibbs added that the president will not engage Gates and Crowley in questions about what happened on the night of the incident. "This is not an after-action report," he said.

Instead, the summit is planned to be held in a more casual setting, with White House aides revealing that Crowley and Gates will be bringing their family members for the meeting at the picnic table on the South Lawn of the White House.


Filed under: Henry Louis Gates • President Obama
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. Predicta

    The post beer summit press conferences should be interesting...

    July 30, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. julie

    Just by Officer Crowley being present at this event suggests he was somehow at fault, especially since Obama is calling it an opportunity to talk about race. Crowley was the only one of the 3 men who wasn't at fault. Obama will use the opportunity to say that he and Gates have been victims of people like Crowley, it's a red herring, Crowley acted honorably. Once again, a good officer, by all accounts gets dragged thru the mud, thank god people choose to be police officers despite these never ending antics.

    July 30, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. C W

    I think this meeting sets a good example of addressing issues in a constructive way by getting people together to sit down, get to know each other, discover common ground and move forward in a positive way.

    July 30, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. jaye

    Those cops were wrong. Period.
    Wait until it happens to a white professor....the outcry will be tremendous.

    July 30, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  5. Island girl

    The Jamaican Red Stripe Beer may hit the spot but I suggest a shot of Appleton Rum Punch for all three. They will be hugging and singing ♫ ONE LOVE ♫

    July 30, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  6. carolflowery

    ok, then it is just photo op, and nothing will be accomplished, thank you gibbs, for your say nothing do nothing report

    July 30, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  7. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Instead of having high expectations from others...maybe each citizen can have a beer or any other beverage within their own community!

    July 30, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  8. Mich

    The more Obama gets involved in this issue the worse it gets. I don't even know why the police officer is going.

    July 30, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  9. Zero.

    More like Hop's and Bob Marly...

    July 30, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  10. Kevin B

    I am sure those in the media who want this issue to remain acrimonious, will continue to try and stoke racial tensions for cheap political and ratings gain.

    After tonights little beerfest it is time to move forward, This is just a big misunderstanding blown out of all porportion by two large ego's and self feeding media machine.

    July 30, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  11. Andrea

    I think it's a great idea. Why not?

    July 30, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  12. chuck

    Crowley is a bigger man than I for accepting this invitation, especially since the president diminished and degraded the actions of him and his police department. By accepting this invitation, it proves to me that he is the level headed one out of all the characters involved. It was so refreshing to see a prominent African American exposing Gates for how badly he behaved during the scene of the alleged burglary last night on Larry King. His analysis was dead on, seemingly much to the chagrin of Larry. It is clear now that Gates chose the wrong police officer to make such wild accusations about racism. Gates needs to learn to pick his battles and pick the right ones. His elitism shines right through.

    July 30, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. George

    Just bringing the players together will show "we can still sit down and discuss issues that are important like this, that we can, I think, as the president has said many times, disagree without being disagreeable," Gibbs said.

    How tone deaf can this white house be? Obama statement is at the heart of this, not what the officer or Gates did. And Obama's public statement was disagreeable, and he hasn't apologized for it.

    I think the officer suggested to Obama that they all sit down for beers because he's looking for something from Obama. Obama thinks the world revolves around him. I think I will enjoy the next few days.

    July 30, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  14. PScril

    This is laughable! A "beer summit" is about as absurd as the arrest itself. This is just more proof that President Obama, as well as the democratic party; are more concerned w/ making people happy, instead of relying on the truth. When will this administration grow a backbone and stop being bullied by old money?

    July 30, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  15. Joe Unger, San Francisco

    So this is supposed to be a teaching moment but no one will hear what was taught?
    Sounds like No Drama Obama thinks a beer and a photo op will make this whole controversy go away. No one will be satisifed and disapointment will occur if this is seen as a lost opportunity to do something Martin Luther King like.
    Obama messed up (again) by agreeing to this, a no win situation unless expectations are exceeded.

    July 30, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  16. LeAnn

    Why is everyone so quick to assume this was racial profiling? How about the option that this had nothing to do with race but more attitude and overreaction? This is ludicrous.

    The President (and Colin Powell) never should have commented on this issue in the first place, never mind make it a forum for a rant on racial profiling. He has more important things on the agenda now.

    July 30, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  17. Peace

    All this saga I blame John McCain. He started this game of making a small thing into a huge one. Am talking about Joe the plumber. From that time I think people learnt its a fair game!

    July 30, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. dominican mama 4 Obama

    On a serious note: Pres. Obama has raised the consciousness of America. He is not divisive. He is teachingus through example that the exchange of ideas, even if opposing, does not make you less of a man, it shows the world that you're civilized and open to CHANGE.

    God bless your strength of character Mr. President. May troubled youths ( and adults) follow your lead and learn to talk it out.

    July 30, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  19. mark

    Obama should have kept his comments to himself. He's to blame for creating this big fiasco! What a lame attempt at an apology.

    July 30, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  20. Kevin St Pete FL

    I hope some good comes out of this. If this is one to open up a dialogue about race relations in this country, then I'm all for it.

    July 30, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  21. Fan of Common Sense

    Good grief. How phony and staged can American politics get?

    I think I'm the one that needs the beer.....make that two.

    July 30, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  22. Kevin St Pete FL

    I hope some good comes out of this. If this is one way to open up a dialogue about race relations in this country, then I'm all for it.

    July 30, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  23. GaVoter

    For acting like a fool before hearing the facts.., Obama and Gates should appologize.

    July 30, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  24. Ryan Read

    Why is the President of the United States getting involved in this matter? Are there not more important things he should be focusing on. This makes no sense to me what so ever.

    July 30, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  25. demwit

    Surely Obama will be appologizing, he does it everywhere else.

    July 30, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
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