Obama Gets a Cambridge Do-over

By luck or design, Kanye West ends up helping out the president

By Robert A. George
|  Tuesday, Sep 15, 2009  |  Updated 6:12 AM CDT
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Obama's condemnation of Kanye West could repair damage made to his post-racial brand for initially criticizing police in the Robert Louis Gates incident earlier this year.

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Is it better to be lucky -- or good?  In the best of all possible worlds, a little bit of both can go a long way -- as President Obama may soon find out.  And he can thank Kanye West, of all people for it. 

The White House began losing control of the health care debate during Obama's July press conference. The final question in a conference that had been dedicated to  health care turned onto the arrest of Henry Louis Gates by a white Cambridge police officer. The president's unwise decision to 1) answer the question and 2) declare that the Cambridge cops acted "stupidly", threw the White House off of its health care strategy -- and upset the Obama "fairness in racial issues" brand.  

Monday evening, thanks to an unusual apparent media violation of an "off the record" understanding -- and a subsequent wayward "tweet" -- and Barack Obama gets a variation of a do-over on his Cambridge moment. ABC's Terry Moran shared with his one million Twitter followers that Obama had called Kanye a "jackass" in the course of a CNBC interview. West, of course, was competing with Serena Williams for Boorish Moment of the Weekend with his upstaging Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards. In fact, West was in a (non-)class by himself: Serena, despite her several F-bombs, could at least claim that it was in the heat of a competitive moment. Kanye -- for whatever reason -- had no such excuse.  

In any event, Moran removed his tweet quickly, but, sorry, this is the Internet.  Nothing completely disappears.  So, now, the president's words are spread everywhere. 

Embarrassing? 

Are you kidding? This doesn't have the seriousness of the Gates arrest and aftermath, but it's just the perfect "slip" that's needed for a president who likes being seen as "parent-in-chief" perhaps more than commander-in-chief. This is, once again, another example of Obama-as-Cosby -- chastising an unruly member of the hip-hop generation. That Obama, a black president, clearly comes down on the side of the pretty white country music queen is icing on the cake.  

Could it be a coincidence that Obama had lunch Monday with Bill Clinton -- the man who created the political tactic known as the "Sister Souljah moment" -- which, yes, ended up targeting a rapper to the benefit of one Democrat?

Of course, all this depends on Obama using the word, an ABC reporter sharing it with the Twitter-verse and things going from there.  Why would Terry Moran help out the president that way? Or maybe Obama just decided to use the unusual -- for him -- word and see what happens. Maybe he didn't expect Moran to leak it, but just assumed that it might get out somehow. 

Or maybe it was just pure dumb luck.  

Lucky? Good? You decide.   

New York writer Robert A. George blogs at Ragged Thots. Follow him on Twitter.

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