President Obama on Friday backed off his contention that Cambridge, Ma., police had acted “stupidly” in arresting a black Harvard University professor on disorderly conduct charges at his own home, says the Los Angeles Times. Obama hoped to tamp down an escalating racial furor that has diverted attention from his policy agenda. The president said he had chosen the wrong words in saying that police had blundered.
The president phoned the arresting officer, James Crowley, and the professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr., inviting them to the White House to discuss the disagreement over a beer. Gates said he “would be happy to oblige.” Obama stopped short of apologizing for his remark about the police during a prime-time news conference Wednesday. He said that in his conversation with Crowley, he acknowledged that “I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sgt. Crowley specifically — and I could have calibrated those words differently.”