Jennifer Rubin has five reasons why the 'Gates-Gate' matters, but I find myself having problems with that list as it is missing a lead item. Indeed, all the talk about Henry Louis Gates Jr. did or did not do comes with a problem when President Obama opined upon it. This is a point that transcends race in America, one that goes beyond petty ideology. This is a point about the Presidency and all individuals who serve in that capacity, and it has a catch phrase that is one that has been used for decades and should be well understood.
The President is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the Nation.
He gets that by the powers to execute the Laws of the Land, thus is the Executive on law enforcement.
His duties are delimited by the US Constitution to Federal and National venues.
Yet, over decades, how a President does his job has become an important factor in the tone and tenor of law enforcement across the Nation. Most Presidents of the post-WWII era have been bogged down by so many laws, rules and regulations to enforce that they cannot enforce them all. Congress has been unwilling to pay up for proper enforcement of all such things it passes and the subsidiary regulations that are put in place upon the Nation. Indeed all such regulations based on bureaucratic rules stemming from the laws passed by Acts of Congress to be enforced by the President are so numerous, so wide-spread, so deep that you are probably already breaking Federal law on a daily basis, as Ilya Somin at The Volokh Conspiracy points out (H/t: Instapundit). In 1998 the Federal government had seen 2/3 of all regulations come into being since 1970 as seen by the pages of the Code of Federal Regulation. As government has not stopped passing Acts of Congress to add to this body, the number of regulations continues to swell as the Federal government reaches out with such to encompass more of your daily life.
Thus President Obama, the Chief Executive on such enforcement, is put into a position of leading the tone and tenor of what he can't enforce and what he can't do because Congress will not and can not fund proper enforcement of all the 'good ideas' it has passed into being via legislation. Indeed, if any President properly made a budget to address the needs of all the 'good ideas' passed by Congress, we would have a staggering budget today,that would eat up much of the National wealth. As Presidents have this oversight of the National Laws and is the individual who has oversight of the enforcement of those laws, what he says and does in that realm under any auspices is an indication of just what sort of law enforcement we can expect from the Nation.
If we decry the abuses of President Nixon in utilizing the CIA to thwart the FBI in investigations and the meddling in those powers to political ends, then that exact, same standard must be applied to all subsequent Presidents. Especially when they speak out about law enforcement involving a supporter and contributor to his political rise as all law enforcement must see all citizens as equal before the law.
The Duty, then, of a President is to ensure that respect for the law and all of its Officers is upheld across the Nation. While he gains no power over local venues outside federal regulation, and that is a huge power in the last 40 years, it then becomes incumbent upon the President to ensure that the basic necessities of respect for the law is upheld. That means not speaking out of turn, letting individuals do their job and letting the process of law enforcement proceed without comment or meddling from its highest office in the land.
That is part of the job of the President and not understanding that job and crossing its bounds to comment or otherwise opine on the local process of the law is neglect of that job by not understanding the Duty that comes with it. A President only gets a few special cases via the Constitution with respect to himself and his office. As those Powers that go with the job of President are at the same level as those in the other two branches of the Federal government, any President must take especial care not to abuse nor diminish those powers entrusted to the holder of that office. It has taken decades to slowly regain public respect for the FBI due to the problems associated with a temporary office holder. Going down deeper into the structure of law enforcement outside of the jurisdiction of the federal to speak of another level outside of the President's control is not part of the job of President and the respect of other Executive branches in the States must be upheld for the good of the Union. Thus his duty is to respect the other Executive Branches in the States who have sole say over State laws and needs.
In running for the job of President, Barack Obama has a slate of powers, responsibilities and duties that he temporarily wields for the good of the Nation and those must be respected so that they may be passed on to future office holders.
Because that is an office for all Americans to look to without respect to age, gender, race or sexual outlook.
Silence is Golden when one does not have the facts at their fingertips.
Duty requires such Silence when it effects other Executive branches trying to do their job.
Uniform treatment under the law is a requirement for all of those executing the law at all levels.
It is a minor incident, of course, but it reveals much about President and his ability, or lack of same, to understand just what it is he has taken on in this job. While his power does not reach down that far, his visibility does. He wanted that job with that visibility and now has the duties that comes with it for equal enforcement of the law for all citizens... and no special exemptions for political backers.
Something the Left would be aghast about if this were someone they didn't like in office, but then ethical outlook from the Left is not something anyone expects these days as partisanship now comes first, last and at all points in between. That leads to no good place at all, when we become a Nation of Men not a Nation of Laws.