At a time of economic distress, two wars, and a health care reform effort stalled by political friction, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, (R-Mich.) is set to introduce a bill calling on Barack Obama to formally apologize to the Cambridge Police.
The Michigan Republican announced on Friday that he would introduce the resolution unless Obama apologized to Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley for criticizing Crowley's handling of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s arrest last week.
The resolution is, as McCotter's Democratic critics note, a political ploy and a waste of congressional time. The congressman undoubtedly has a full plate of issues with which he could concern himself, including his home state's porous job market.
"Times are tough, people need jobs here at home, but instead of offering solutions, obstructionist Republicans like Congressman McCotter continue to put politics first," said Ryan Rudominer, press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
McCotter isn't the only Republican official eagerly working to keep the Gates controversy alive. The National Republican Senatorial Committee on Thursday started distributing an online petition asking supporters to answer the question: "Do you think it's appropriate for our nation's Commander in Chief to stand before a national audience and criticize the men and women in law enforcement who put their lives on the line every day, when by his own admission, he doesn't even know all the facts?"
Though falling short of a formal apology, Obama's comments on Friday were widely seen as conciliatory. "I want to make clear that in my choice of words I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sergeant Crowley specifically," Obama said, "and I could have calibrated those words differently."
But McCotter appears undeterred. "He has said he will introduce the legislation if the President does not retract and apologize for his comments," said Jameson Cunningham, press secretary for McCotter, when asked if Obama had already addressed his concerns. "As of now, no apology has been issued."
Here is the full text of his resolution:
Whereas on July 16, 2009, Cambridge, Massachusetts Police Sergeant James M. Crowley responded to a 911 call from a neighbor of Harvard University Professor Henry Louis ("Skip") Gates, Jr. about a suspected break-in in progress at his residence, which had been broken into on a prior occasion;
Whereas on July 22, 2009, in responding to a question during a White House press conference President Barack Obama stated: "Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here. I don't know all of the facts involved in this local police response incident";
Whereas President Obama proceeded to state Sergeant Crowley "acted stupidly" for arresting Professor Gates on charges of disorderly conduct;
Whereas, as a former Constitutional Law Professor, President Obama well understands that all Americans are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and their actions should not be prejudged prior to being fully and fairly judged by an appropriate and objective authority after due process;
Whereas, President Obama's nationally televised remarks may likely detrimentally influence the full and fair judgment by an appropriate and objective authority after due process regarding this local police response incident and, thereby, impair Sergeant Crowley's legal and professional standing in relation to said incident; and
Whereas, President Obama appeared at a daily White House Press briefing on July 24, 2009 to address his denouncement of Sergeant Crowley and stated: "I could have calibrated those words differently" but "I continue to believe, based on what I have heard, that there was an overreaction in pulling Professor Gates out of his home to the station."
Whereas, President Obama's refusal to retract his initial public remarks and apologize to Sergeant Crowley and, instead, reiterate his accusation impugning Sergeant Crowley's professional conduct in the performance of his duties;
Now therefore be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
Calls upon President Obama to retract his initial public remarks and apologize to Cambridge, Massachusetts Police Sergeant James M. Crowley for having unfairly impugned and prejudged his professional conduct in this local police response incident.