“I am, I have to say, fascinated with the fascination about this evening,” President Obama said today in the Oval Office, sitting alongside Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He wasn’t referring to the constructive conversation he was having with President Arroyo, but rather media interest in the beers he’s hoisting tonight with Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley.
The idea for the beers came when he was on the phone with Crowley last Friday, the president recounted.
“Maybe I’ll have a beer in the White House some day,” Crowley said, according to the president.
“I’m sure that can be arranged,” Obama said he responded.
The president said he’s heard the event called the “Beer Summit.”
“It’s a clever term,” the president said, “but this is not a summit, guys. It’s three folks having a drink at the end of the day and hopefully giving people an opportunity to listen to each other. And that’s really all it is.
“This is not a university seminar,” said the president who last week suggested this would be a “teachable moment.”
“It’s not a summit,” the president continued. “It’s an attempt to have some personal interaction when an issue has become so hyped and so symbolic that you lose sight of just the fact that these are people involved, including myself, all of whom are imperfect.”
Said the president, “hopefully instead of ginning up anger and hyperbole, you know, everybody can just spend a little bit of time with some self-reflection and recognizing that everybody has different points of view.”
Concluded Mr. Obama, “I would be surprised if you guys all make this the lead — as opposed to a very important meeting we just had with one of our most important partners in the world — but the press has surprised me before.”
– Jake Tapper and Karen Travers