Obama to engage in beer diplomacy

July 28, 2009

Over the decades, we’ve had ping-pong diplomacy, shuttle diplomacy and cowboy diplomacy. And now we’ve got beer diplomacy.

President Barack Obama is going to sit down for a beer on Thursday night at a picnic table outside the Oval Office with the two main players in a racially charged case — Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge, Massachusetts, police Sergeant James Crowley.BASKETBALL/

The first diplomatic task may be in selecting the beer for each attendee.

Crowley told Obama he wants Blue Moon, a Belgian-style white beer brewed by Molson Coors. Gates is said to prefer either Red Stripe or Beck’s. Nothing fancy for Obama, who was criticized on the campaign trail for musing about the price of arugula. He is sticking with the good old American brand, Budweiser.

Obama said last Friday that he hoped the episode will be a “teachable moment” about why can’t all of us just get along with each other. Crowley was called to Gates’ home on July 16 to look into a possible break-in and arrested the Harvard scholar, who forced open the door of his own home because he didn’t have a key. Words were exchanged.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama hopes to have an informal discussion.

“I would not construe this as formal discussions. This is about having a beer and de-escalate,” Gibbs told reporters.

“I think the president wants to continue to take the temperature down a bit, look more for constructive things that can come out,” he said.

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Molly Riley (Obama with beverage at a basketball game)


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After the bad media coverage of Obama on this issue, it is definately a great leadership decision. All the media attention drawn over such unimportant actions.This is definately a crowd pleaser and goes to show the humane side of the president. For what probably had been a small disagrement, it is time someone stepped up and showed everyone that they can just look back on what happened over a beer and not make such a big deal about it.

I think it’s amazing that alcohol comments, pro and con are being vocalized. What will come of this politically is the question. The reality: This informal sit down is occurring because Obama injected his misinformed, reactive opinion on a situation he had no business getting involved with. Instead of calling a police forces action stupid, a Harvard law graduate and leader of the free world might have opted to continue with his original thinking when he said” I don’t have all the facts.” A more appropriate response would have been, ” We will let due process and investigation reveal what has truly happened and if there was any misconduct either party should be dealt with appropriately.”We have come a long way in race relations… make no mistake. Both parties have ownership. The truth lies in what Obama’s agenda and thought process. We heard it last week, this week he is just trying to save face. I can’t wait to see the media coverage.Pass me a Black and Tan please…..

Posted by Danarius | Report as abusive

The President has made a huge mistake using Beer as a way to resolve an issue. He also should be spending more time in really understanding the terrible health bill he wants to pass without having read it…

I’m amazed, we have a President, the first in nearly a decade that is proving to be human. His agendas are stated and he addresses problems as they occur. When he misspeaks or makes an inappropriate descision, he holds himself accountable. For those looking for a President to act alternatively, please reference the last 8 years and all the lives lost because of his unaccountable descision. That jerk is now my neighbor.I’d like to thank President Barrack Hussein Obama for taking a rational approach to problems in a rather irrational society. Unfortunately, it’s the people of this country that have caused catastrophe right alongside its leaders.Our role models and positive examples are disappearing quickly. Education is teetering on near failure (need proof, read the comments on Youtube…..that’s how are chidren really write). Rather than criticize the methodology behind this, take the time to learn a lesson about things that aren’t black and white.This matter goes beyond a race issue, it speaks to our infinite communication problems in a wired world.

Posted by Anthony Dallas | Report as abusive

LOL … this is one time when I’m really ‘laughing out loud’ at some of the comments made on here. This is a symbolic gesture by Obama to ease racial tensions brought about by the situation and his comments. It is nothing more or less. Why all the angst? Simple … partisan politics. To the people complaining: If it was Obama helping a little old lady cross the road, you would criticize that as well and say that he’s just probably trying to steal the change in her purse. Get a grip and/or life please … for everyone’s sake

Posted by Rob Brooks | Report as abusive

the people complaining about this are the same people complaining that the couple in Minnesota who danced down the aisle for their wedding are WRONG for dancing in a church. get over yourselves. men have been holding discussions over beer for quite some time now. in fact, im pretty sure the “Patriot Movement” was started IN bars!!

Posted by bryan | Report as abusive

Interesting that some suggest the President and his guests smoke cannabis instead of drinking a beer. I’m not sure either substance will make the conversation more lucid, though both have a long history of promoting a friendly, open atmosphere (except when used in excess or abusively, which tends to promote the exact opposite). I must admit the image of these three men cracking beer cans and passing a doobie around whilst discussing race relations is pretty funny, but it’s also a situation which occurs often in reality (except, of course, the President usually isn’t the one relighting the joint when it goes out).

Posted by rckstrdave | Report as abusive

I’m very sorry the President responded this situation. Sometimes it’s better to keep your personal thought your personal thoughts. President Obama needs to be more mindful of allowing himself to be pulled into this situational debates, or whatever you may want to call them. He needs to realize that being President does not mean he has a cure all prescription for everything. If he can just run the country well get us a good health care program, I’d be happy. Sure it’s nice to be a refuree but he need to remember every thing said is magnified and scruitized. There are those individuals which are just waiting to pounce.

Hopefully these meetings will not become Liquor Diplomacy by 2011.

Posted by Matt Simpson Siegel | Report as abusive

Race RelationsSgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department arrested a Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. for disorderly conduct.The facts are, the police responded to a burglary call to Gates house from one of his neighbors. The front door had been damaged from a previous burglary attempt. Gates was in the house and was uncooperative in identifying himself. When Crowley was explaining to Gates his reason for being there, which was he was responding to a burglary in progress, Gates shouted, “why, because I am a black man in America,” interjecting race into it. He continued his tirade calling the officer a racist among other things until he was arrested for disorderly conduct.Gates was outraged by his arrest when a white police officer entered his home without his permission. Even though the policeman was doing his job. Professor Gates teaches African studies and I wonder what is actually being taught in his classPresident Obama said the Cambridge officers acted “stupidly “ regarding the incident. He went on to say that anyone of us would be pretty angry and that it is a fact that African-Americans and Latinos are being stopped disproportionately by law enforcement in this country. He made those statements without knowing the facts of the case. But what would you expect from a Community Organizer.The next day Obama’s teleprompter told him to say I wished cooler heads would have prevailed and the officer involved was outstanding, but stood by his racial profiling comment. Race relations will not get any better in this country when President Obama gives credence and also was influenced by race baiters like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, and Jeremiah Wright.My question to Gates and Obama are, “Why the outrage? Why the anger?” The police were doing their job. Gates was the one who escalated the situation. What would they have said if it was not Gates but actually burglars in the house and the police let them go? Also I would not be angry for the police doing their job in trying to protect my property.Statistics show that blacks commit a disproportionate amount of the crime. Therefore, what Obama should be concerned with is reducing the crimes being committed by African-Americans so they will not be “profiled.” Police may be reluctant to do their jobs because of the racial tension caused by Obama’s comments on the issue, thus causing the crime rate to rise.Greg ZottaImperial

Posted by Greg Zotta | Report as abusive

The roman emporers and senators all knew you had to keep the people distracted with Beer, Bread, and Circuses or naked ta tas to stay in power.

Posted by joe sixpaque | Report as abusive

I enjoy the comments on how they love to see the president not “making a big deal out of this”. Uhmm…this has dragged on for about as long as MJ and frankly I don’t think it’s really that big of a story. Is it surprising he (or anyone) said something stupid? Big deal, get over it. I don’t like the guy but I sure don’t really care that he said anything about the “incident”. It’s more insulting they are still talking about it and even MORE ridiculous that he’s having a sit down over it??? Get over yourself. Not making a big deal out of it?? All he’s doing is dragging it out and making a photo op out of this. This does nothing. Ridiculous.

Posted by Jack | Report as abusive

Exactly…the people who whine and moan about this would be whining and moaning about something else if this didn’t happen. You give importance to issues because you CHOOSE to. It’s no wonder the economy is in chaos…after reading conversations like this and many many others, it’s quite evident that people have too much time on their hands and productivity is not even a word in their vocabulary or mindset. I’m waiting for someone to “label” a person’s personal taste preference in a particular beer, as liberal or conservative. Everyone must be labeled so “give it a name”!!! I believe a spirit of acceptance (in all areas) would move everybody along these days but in the anal mind, a good “movement” is hard to come by!

Posted by Trax | Report as abusive

As a craft brewer I am disappointed to hear that none of these men, especially Obama, will be enjoying a local and/or craft brewed beer. The article cited Budweiser as a “good old American” brand. That brand is based in Belgium now that it’s a subsidiary of InBev. I fear that if the president truly prefers bland mass-produced swill then there is no way he could possibly have the strength of character to push for the single payer health care system this country needs. And yes, ideally they would share a doobie as well.

Posted by Jesse | Report as abusive

I agree that people whine way too much and don’t offer any solutions to issues. They also read too much into things. If the President likes Bud so be it! I think he’s trying improve communications and foster a little good will. Don’t we all need that!

President invites you to his home for a beer you drink what’s in the house. Nuff said.

Posted by James Roberts | Report as abusive

This is one of the dumbest things I have ever heard of. Does obama expect us to think that this is just three guys at the corner bar discussing an insignificant issue over a beer? Give me a break.I’m disappointed that the officer is going to this charade without demanding an apology from both of these clowns. It’s interesting that Gates sounds alot like Jeremiah Wright and some of obama’s other race baiting friends and yet they can find no trace of racism in the officers background; but it always been okay to bash whitey without any backlash.

Of course he’ll use beer diplomacy. Isn’t that’s how it’s done in Chicago? Give your foe something that will intoxicate him. (funny how the word toxic, is in intoxicate, eh?) Then either try to make a fool out of him, or get rid of him.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Doesn’t the president have more important things to do than to sit around drinking beers with 2 law enforcement officers whom he labeled racists? When will people stop crying racism everytime they don’t get their way, or life throws them a curveball?

Posted by Zefrum | Report as abusive

Oh the irony…Mr. Obama is attempting to look like the peacemaker in an incident that he helped spin out of control. Perhaps cooler heads will help oust the second (or third) failed presidency in a row.

Posted by Devin | Report as abusive

“President invites you to his home for a beer you drink what’s in the house. Nuff said”Agreed.For those who continually spew the stupid question why won’t people stop crying racism….blah blah…here is a thought; why don’t you search out the crimes committed against blacks and punish those responsible. Only this time never mention race or racism and see who disagrees.

Perhaps while he is drinking the Budweiser, the Pres can stimulate the California economy by smoking some Cali weed. That stuff could de-escalate a rhino attack.Since Budweiser has been sold to a foreign company, perhaps Obama could persuade Inbev to sell back Rolling Rock, so it could once again be brewed in the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe? Not a micro brew, but once a fine beer. I couldn’t agree more that Obama should be drinking a locally brewed beer. Think globally, drink locally.Cheers

Posted by CaliBudsPlease | Report as abusive

we love it when our tax dollars go to banks and then wasted on such trival matters. why is it necessary for the president to engauge in such low level particulars? it seems a bs stunt to make him more likeable. But in reality he is likeable, but he has singlehandedly payed for failures and supported organizations that should have gone under so the rich people really in charge get acquisitions for pennies on the dollar. Every baby born is already in debt 80k. Thats is a nice nest egg. Oh, not a nest egg.

Posted by weloveit | Report as abusive

Yes, he’s the President. But can he not sit and have a relaxing beer and sit with a couple of guys that he feels like he wants to sit with?? What’s so wrong about that? If you don’t ever do that, then perhaps you should take some notes off of the guys that is leading your country. He IS the leader for a reason, hmm?

Posted by ky | Report as abusive