Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich Friday morning ventured into the racial and political debate over the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the subsequent critical reaction to the episode by Barack Obama.
Asked for his take on the affair, Gingrich said that the president would have best been served by saying nothing at all, rather than declaring that the police had acted "stupidly" in arresting the 58-year-old Gates in his own home. The Georgia Republicans added that it would be "nice" if Obama were "humble enough and calm enough to admit this is just one he blew."
"I learned very painfully when I was Speaker that when you are a national leader, you are no longer a college teacher, you no longer have interesting ideas. Everything you say becomes policy," said Gingrich during an appearance on C-SPAN's Washington Journal.
Gingrich didn't exactly leap at the chance to score political points against the White House, unlike the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which declared that the president had inappropriately criticized the hard-working members of the Cambridge Police Department. But he didn't let the opportunity to take a dig at Obama go by either, offering an interpretation that made the president seem jumpy, amateur, and a bit too sure of himself.
"I think the president would do all of us a benefit if he just relaxed and said, you know, he probably shouldn't have said anything," Gingrich declared. "He learned a painful lesson, lets move on. The country would be grateful."
"It would be nice to know that he was comfortable enough that he could admit this is just something he shouldn't have talked about," he added.