L’affaire de Gates et Crowley, which has dominated national headlines, has been called a “teachable moment” by President Barack Obama. Unfortunately, by offering his thoughts, the president ignored an old lesson of politics: Sometimes, it’s wisest to leave things alone.

There was little need for Obama to interject an opinion into the controversial arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. — he said the Cambridge, Mass., police, which included arresting officer Sgt. Jim Crowley — acted “stupidly.”

Worse, the president prefaced this by saying that not only is he friends with Gates, but admitted he “didn’t know all the facts.” Trouble comes when U.S. presidents offer half-informed opinions. For someone with such a sharp political mind, the president made a dull choice in words.

He’s trying to make amends, with today’s showy offer of beers at the White House. Gates is a Red Stripe man. Crowley favors Blue Moon. All Obama has to drink is a white beer, something wheaty for summer, and the patriotic American brewscape is set.

But there is something contrived and sad about this whole thing. President Obama, in his election, proved this country could transcend race. This watershed seems watered down now that Obama is stooping to restore race relations over lagers.

Life isn’t a beer commercial, where a few hours of sudsy socializing not only makes life better, but leads to harmless hijinks and always, always, attention from desirable females. Gates, Crowley and President Obama could imbibe like the guys in the summer blockbuster “The Hangover” and not achieve détente, or even understanding. Respect among races isn’t found in the bottom of a glass.

Or, in political gimmicks — come ’round to my place for a beer! — to repair political mistakes. Obama’s ill-conceived statements turned up the heat, rather than brightening the light, on the issues surrounding Professor Gates’ arrest, turning a local issue into a deafening national debate.

Pressure from outside sources on delicate racial issues is never helpful. Lewiston-Auburn has been burned time and again, whether by idiotic white supremacists trying to make L-A an example of its hateful agenda, or by blow-dried blowhards more interested in ham sandwich jokes than the truth.

Fortunately, when these happened, this community responded. We beat back the hatemongers and untruth-tellers. The ultimate authority for patching rifts caused by heated racial incidents falls with the people who must live with them every day. No outside power can order it. Not even a president, offering a cold brew and a warm invitation.

Obama should have withheld comment. Today’s beer garden in the Rose Garden is a scripted repair of a political mistake, not the birth of a new era in race relations in America. That happened last November.

Let Crowley, Obama and Gates drink to that, instead.

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