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In all the media hype and hoopla over last week’s “Beer
Summit” something has been conspicuously missing.The glaring omission: The event’s purpose as
expressed by the person who called the meeting to order in the first
You see nearly every other Presidential
“summit” in political memory has been preceded by months of negotiation whereby
the vested parties haggled over and ultimately agreed upon the meeting’s
specific goals, objectives and intended outcomes.Rules for dialogue were set in advance. The
topics to be discussed were clarified.Expectations were well defined.The location for the event was determined.Furniture was selected, flags were
positioned, and fanfare was controlled.All this was and is done in an effort to assure neutral footing for all
involved because, you see, everyone knows that without such clarity the meeting
could easily gravitate toward the self-serving instincts of one party or the
other and that’s not the purpose of a summit – Is it??
But with the much ballyhooed “Beer Summit,” such shared
ownership of goals, strategy and objectives seemed to be lacking.All we knew of the event’s intended outcomes
was what we were told by its One and only organizer and its One and only
host.As far as we knew, no other input
was offered (or sought?) and, in fact, it seemed to be clear that our President was not seeking mutual consent on the
target that he obviously had in hissights.Mr. Obama knew what he was after: The only
reason for the meeting, we were told by the One who called it, was that it
would be a “teachable moment.”
don’t know about you but when I hear these words used by someone in authority
they almost always mean that this is a moment for “them to teach and you and me
to learn.”In other words, the person
calling the “teachable moment” to order is saying “I am going to talk and you
need to listen.This is a time for the
teacher to teach and the student to learn.”
So what I argue has been missing in the media coverage of
this entire “summit” is the presumed pedagogical paradigm of our
Teacher-In-Chief.To say it another way
– Shouldn’t we be asking what exactly it was that the President
felt needed to be taught and to whom was he directing his teaching?
For example, did our President
teach Dr. Gates that he should be thankful to the police for putting their
lives on the line in responding so quickly to a potential robbery of the
professor’s own residence?
Did our President
instruct Dr. Gates that he should be grateful for neighbors who cared enough
about the collective safety of the community (and the professor’s property) to
make the 911 call in the first place?
Did our President
lecture Dr. Gates that he should be thankful for a police officer who was not
so naïve as to accept, at first blush, the professor’s flippant explanations
that “this is my house” and instead asked for identification from the very one
who was attempting forcible entry into that same house?
Did the President
edify everyone at this “summit”that
it is unwise and presumptuous to take sides in a disagreement and label one
person “stupid” before you even know the details and facts of the matter in
Did Mr. Obama’s lesson plan include anything about the time
tested truth of justice being blind and the implicit racism of assuming
mistreatment and victimization simply because of what you see in the skin color of your accuser?
And finally, did the President
ever confront the professor and teach him that rude and angry vitriol almost
always betrays the self-righteousness of one’s ego rather than the objective
rightness of one’s arguments?
Yes this was a teachable moment but somehow I doubt that the
above pedagogy was ever employed and I sincerely question whether our President’s lesson plan included any of the ideas
My suspicion: This was not so much a summit to debate ideas and differing opinions but rather it was
more of a summons where the One in
charge, taught others what to think,
what to do, and what to say – Because, after all, to disagree with the
Principal when you are summoned into his office for a “teachable moment” would
be – Well how should I say it? – Stupid.