One thing I really admire about President Obama is his ability to be reasonable and calm in the face of criticism. His recent remarks about the New Haven Police Dept., Sgt. Crowley in particular, and their arrest of Prof. Gates are further proof of this.
I considered his initial remark that the New Haven police had "acted stupidly" to be a lapse in judgement. This kind of statement could only inflame the situation and alienate police departments all across the country. As Obama stated at the outset, he wasn't there and didn't have all the facts at his disposal; for that matter, neither did anyone else who wasn't there.
Now he has acted to defuse the situation and he will meet with Gates and Crowley to have a calm, rational discussion. He hopes this will teach us all something. First, it should teach the president that even when it is a friend who is involved in a controversial act, he should weigh his words very carefully. This could have set off a firestorm of racial conflict. Thankfully, President Obama had the good sense to back down and bring the parties together for a discussion.