The White House expressed hope that it has put behind it a controversy surrounding President Barack Obama’s remarks on the arrest of African-American scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. But the incident highlights the challenge facing Mr. Obama in addressing the issue of race and in keeping the debate focused on his broader agenda.
David Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Obama, said Sunday that he believed the president’s expression of regret for his initial statement that the police “acted stupidly” was having “the desired effect.”
“People are talking more constructively now,” Mr. Axelrod said on CBS’s “Face The Nation.” “The steam has gone out of this. Instead of heat being generated, more light is being generated.”
The incident highlighted social divisions that Mr. Obama hoped had been eased by his election as the nation’s first African-American president. The emotions triggered by his comments on the Gates arrest suggest that the issue of race continues to hang over his presidency.