President Obama has backed off a bit on his “acted stupidly” comments concerning the arrest of black scholar Henry Louis Gates, saying they were not properly “calibrated.” But, aides say, it “was not a slip of the tongue,” Peter Baker writes in the New York Times. “Obama said what he wanted to say. The question is whether presidents can really do that.”
Experts agree that in the Oval Office, loose lips sink issues. “They want to be genuine,” says Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer. “But there’s the recognition that you’re no longer able to muse the way you’re used to.” Already, President Obama has offended Special Olympians and Nancy Reagan. The Gates issue “got a little personal,” erstwhile adviser John Podesta says, “and I suspect we won’t see that happen again."