Late this afternoon, President Obama finally sat down over beers with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge police sergeant James Crowley. The LA Times notes that “a small group of photographers and reporters was permitted to witness the meeting for about 30 seconds and from about 50 feet away — transmitting to the world a snapshot of Obama, in shirt sleeves, seated at an oval table with the now-famous pair. Gates and Crowley appeared to talk seriously, and at one point Obama gave a hearty laugh. Joining the three was Vice President Joe Biden, also in shirt sleeves.” While the meeting was closed to the press, we’ve obtained a transcript.
[As THE PRESS departs the scene, OBAMA addresses BIDEN, CROWLEY, and GATES in a soft but firm voice]
OBAMA: Alright, let me be very clear: Those bastards have telephoto lenses, so even at fifty feet away they can still get some pretty good shots. I want you all to stay smiling for at least another minute. Let’s just keep a casual conversation going for the time being. I’m going to emit a hearty chuckle right now. [Chuckles heartily] Okay, let’s get this thing over with.
BIDEN: [Brightly] Israel has our go-ahead to take out Iran whenever they’re ready!
[OBAMA glares at BIDEN. CROWLEY looks confused.]
CROWLEY: I still don’t understand what he’s doing here. He kind of scares me.
OBAMA: The Vice President is here because in his many years of service to our nation he’s made the healing of racial differences a priority in his career.
BIDEN: [Brightly] I used to be a lifeguard with some black fellas! Good, clean guys. Spoke well!
GATES: He’s also here to make sure you ain’t the most ignorant Irishman in the room. [Muttering] Cracker.
OBAMA: Easy now, Skip. Let’s save the Stokely Carmichael routine for the next Christmas party on Quincy Street, okay?
GATES: But Mr. President! This ofay motherfucker violated my dignity! I shoulda put that cane right up his ass!
CROWLEY: I’d have liked to see you try, darkie.
BIDEN: [Brightly] Russia is in so much trouble they’re going to have to do whatever we say!
OBAMA: [Glaring at BIDEN] Okay, listen, I want you all to shut the fuck up. Officer Crowley, I want to apologize for saying you acted stupidly. It was a poor choice of words which, no matter how accurate and perhaps even understated, got me into so much trouble with all the idiots in the press and every entitled white man who hated my guts in the first place but never had a way to say it without sounding racist that here I am, wasting valuable time on a Thursday evening sitting around with the American political version of Dorothy’s companions from The Wizard of Oz. Heart, brain, nerve: each of you needs one of those three. Can you guess who you are? You, in particular, Sergeant. If you only had a little more courage you’d have been able to step away from a man who was justifiably angry for being confronted in his own home without turning it into some kind of reflection on your manhood and the respect you think you deserve simply for wearing a badge. In Cambridge, for Chrissakes. You’re a cop in a city that’s Canada to Boston’s America. Jesus Christ.
BIDEN: [Brightly] We have no idea what to do about North Korea!
OBAMA: [Glaring at BIDEN] I think it’s fairly clear which one of the three of you needs the brain.
GATES: Whatchoo talkin’ about, Obama? You saying I ain’t got heart? I ain’t too old to still give you a whupping!
OBAMA: Oh, come off it, Skip. You’re a goddamn Harvard professor. How smart can you be to be dumb enough to forget that at the end of the day you’re still just another dark face to every racist mick with a tin star and a sidearm?
CROWLEY: Wait a second, I resent that.
OBAMA: Cram it, Bull Connor, I already dealt with you. I’m chastising Professor Gates now. For fuck’s sake, Henry, do you know how far this ridiculous incident has set me back? A month ago Americans were still patting themselves on the back and saying, “Can you believe we elected a black guy as president?” Now they’re pissing their pants in fear and saying, “Can you believe we elected a black guy as president?” I should be out there making the case for health care and urging patience on the economy. Instead you’ve turned me into some horrible combination of Al Sharpton and Oprah fucking Winfrey. Let me make this perfectly clear, okay? When a white cop asks you to come out of the house, DON’T COME OUT OF THE HOUSE. Can you get that through your Ivy League head?
GATES: [Muttering] I’ll get it through ya mama’s Ivy League head.
OBAMA: [Raises eyebrow] Excuse me?
GATES: Yes, Mr. President, I understand.
BIDEN: [Brightly] Afghanistan is going to make Iraq look like Grenada!
OBAMA: [Glaring at BIDEN] Okay, drink up, gentlemen, the bar’s closing. I’ve wasted enough of my time on this ridiculous sideshow. I trust you’ll both announce that you found the meeting amicable, that we’ve reached some common ground, that America still has a long way to go on its journey to reconciliation, but that the first step is for men and women of goodwill to sit down together and… I dunno, whatever the fuck Favreau tossed off, Rahm will give you the talking points on the way out. Any questions?
CROWLEY: [Talking softly, gesturing at BIDEN] Is he really always like that?
OBAMA: Actually, this is one of the good days. But don’t worry. Between us, the Secret Service has standing orders to take him out immediately if anything happens to me.
CROWLEY: That is the most reassuring thing I’ve heard in two weeks.
GATES: Finally, something we can agree on!
BIDEN: [Brightly] I hope you guys know how to speak Chinese, because pretty soon they’re gonna own us all!
OBAMA, GATES, CROWLEY: [In unison] That’s our Joe!
BIDEN: [Brightly] Where?