“I don’t know; maybe it’s a guy thing”
Not at the white house this evening will be Lucia Whalen, pretty much the only person involved in the Gates imbroglio who didn’t over-react, the only person whose actions don’t reflect a sense of personal grievance or entitlement, and the person who has been most adversely affected by the fiasco. And while it’s not surprising that she wasn’t invited to the white house, if only because the narrative of the “beer summit” is one of Obama trying to mediate between the two aggrieved parties, Gates and Crowley, her absence is worth noting. After all, the narrative of the beer summit is of overcoming racial difference through masculine homosociality — as Mark Katz puts it, “Beer is American shorthand for guy-to-guy commonality” — and in that sense, her absence is as necessary as any other element in the entire tableau. But the video of her press conference is sort of devastating; behind all the bombast, posturing, and political games that almost everyone has been playing, there seems to be little or no room in the narrative for a person who simply tried to do the right thing in a difficult situation, with full cognizance and awareness of the difficulties of that situation. No good deed goes unpunished.