Schieffer on the Real Teachable Moment

Sgt. James Crowley and Henry Louis Gates Jr.
The President said he hoped the Gates incident would provide a teachable moment.

For sure, it was no shining moment for any of those involved:

. . . A scholar who popped off after a long day, which included locking himself out of his own house. But then, we've all been there, haven't we?

. . . A cop trained not to let such things bother him, let some smart remarks get under his skin. Inexcusable, sure, but aren't cops human too, sometimes?

. . . And a president (who should have remembered) forgot just how bully the bully pulpit can be. But then, he had a couple of things on his mind that day too, didn't he?

Then, the president did what presidents - or anyone, for that matter - seldom do: he admitted a mistake. He said he realized that what he had said just made things worse.

That made me think.

If the cop had told the scholar, "Sorry, I didn't mean to insult you when I asked you for identification, I was just trying to do the job you pay me to do," or if the scholar had told the cop, "You know, I shouldn't have popped off, it's just been a long, hard day," my guess if they had said that is none of this would have even made the local news.

We all have bad days, no one is perfect, and when we are willing to step back, take a breath and admit that - or at least concede the other guy may have a point - it generally makes things better.

To me, that's the lesson here.