Was President Obama's Suds Summit Successful?

"We hit it off right from the beginning. When he's not arresting you, Sgt. Crowley is a really likable guy," Gates added.

Crowley told ABC's Boston affiliate WCVB that the fact that Gates made the first move by introducing his family "shows a lot of character." The police officer said that the president was "engaging" and "he didn't dominate the discussion."

Gates and Crowley seemingly did most of the talking in the evening meeting that took place on the picnic bench of the White House. The president and Vice President Joe Biden -- who Obama invited informally Thursday afternoon -- made their best effort to create a casual, friendly atmosphere aided by beer, pretzels and peanuts.

None of the parties at the table revealed specifics of the discussion, with Crowley saying that it was "a private discussion, it was a frank discussion."

"The national conversation over the past week about my arrest has been rowdy, not to say tumultuous and unruly. But we've learned that we can have our differences without demonizing one another," Gates said.

Gates was the only one who drank a fully American beer, opting for a Sam Adams light. Obama drank Bud Lite, made by a Belgian company, Biden had nonalcoholic Buckler, brewed by Dutch Heineken, and Crowley chose Blue Moon, from Canadian Molson.

Gates' and Crowley's families arrived separately at the White House at different times but met up, as both groups were taking tours of the president's residence before the beer meeting. The Gateses and Crowleys continued their tours together, which Crowley called "a start."

When asked whether the president should have said the Cambridge police acted "stupidly" in arresting Gates -- comments that Obama since then has said he could have calibrated differently -- Crowley told WCVB, "I am not in a position to tell the president of United States he misspoke. Hopefully, he's like the rest of us who continuously analyze what they've done."

There is no date set yet for when the two men embroiled at the center of a national debate on race will meet again. But Crowley did suggest that this time it would be in private and maybe without beer -- Kool Aid or iced tea, he said.

For the president, as he had hoped, this story may now be over. But he has much bigger fish to fry. With health care stalling in Congress and his public support dropping, it may take a lot more than beer for the White House to deal with these issues.

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