SCENE: THREE MEN SEATED AT A PICNIC TABLE IN A REASONABLY PRIVATE SPOT ON THE WHITE HOUSE GROUNDS. PRESIDENT OBAMA, PROFESSOR GATES AND SERGEANT CROWLEY.
OBAMA: I know. I know. This is the biggest fishbowl in the nation. I’m almost used to it. There isn’t a whole lot of privacy.
What I want to tell both of you right off is how much I appreciate your coming here today. Skip, we’ve known each other for a long time, and you already know how much respect I have for you — what you’ve accomplished, what you’ve done with your life, what you’ve done as a teacher, a scholar, and a leader and friend of black and white communities in this country and around the world. Had you not been the man you are, we very likely wouldn’t be about to drink this beer today. And, by the way, you know that we’ve got a selection of brands made right here in the U.S. — in fact, a couple of them are from New England. I know you like that foreign brand, Sergeant Crowley. But I’m just a tenant in this house — I’ve got to follow the rules on beer selection!
Sergeant Crowley — OK, that’s a little formal, but we’re just meeting each other for the first time — I am so pleased that you accepted my invitation to come to my house — the nation’s house. And as I’ve already told you, everything that’s been said about you by folks who evidently know you well professionally as an officer and personally as an outstanding leader and teacher in New England communities — everything I’ve heard makes me proud to welcome you to the White House.
Look. A whole lot’s been said about what happened back in Cambridge. But I really do believe that this can’t help but be a teachable moment. All three of us have been teachers. Are teachers. In a way, not only has the nation become a classroom — so has the world, judging by the media from everywhere.
I’ll say one more thing before I offer a toast and we all get to drink our beer on this hot and humid typical July day in D.C. And, really, it’s a hell of lot better to be drinking our beer than crying in it.
One more thing. My chief of staff — you know about him — Rahm Emmanuel — got a little famous for saying “Never let a crisis go to waste.” So to the extent that what we’re doing here started out as a crisis, I wanted to make damn sure we didn’t let it go to waste.
So, all right. Here’s that toast. Let’s raise our glasses of this fine New England brew and drink to understanding and respect and peace and friendship — and to the very best lessons our meeting can teach the communities of this nation and the world — and what we still have to learn from each other!