How many ways can you analyze 30 seconds of silent footage? An infinite number of ways! Over the last 24 hours, cable pundits, our modern Vienna Circle, have explored all the possible meanings of a bunch of guys drinking beers.
Not long ago, a Cambridge police officer named James Crowley arrested Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates for the crime of being rude to a police officer who wouldn't get off his porch. Then, Barack Obama, who is friends with Gates, said the Cambridge Police Department acted stupidly. This touched off a national conversation on race, which means a bunch of dudes on TV shouting at each other.
So Barack Obama invited Crowley and Gates over to the White House to have beers and talk about shit. And the press was invited to watch, briefly, but not to listen in. And so the world will never know how Racism Got Solved.
But we can certainly guess a lot of things! Crowley probably said "tastes great" and Gates said "less filling" and then Gates got arrested, again, maybe.
"I feel like we're watching Britain's Got Talent," Chris Matthews says. "Biden's probably the only one who drank the beer," Bill O'Reilly says, perhaps unaware that Biden was the only one drinking near beer.
Oh, look, the Post called a body-language expert! That is always the sign of a really good news story, when a body-language expert has been called. Obama was comfortable, and Crowley was not, and Biden is ridiculous. Thanks, body-language expert.
Even Gates' daughter (guess what online media outlet she writes for) got in on the action, with a column about how she watched them talk from some windows inside the White House and What It Means About Race. (Also she has already been accused of "taking the low road" by The New Republic for mentioning that Crowley's 14-year-old daughter applied her eyeliner inexpertly, which Gates found "charming," which is apparently evidence of condescension from someone uppity enough to have graduated from The New School. No, seriously, we're not seeing it, TNR, and this just looks like Corner-style shit-stirring for the hell of it.)
Oh, and White House photographer Pete Souza had his official photo of the toast uploaded to Flickr before the beers even got warm. We can't wait for Peggy Noonan to write a column on the ghosts of Ferdinand de Sassure and Roland Barthes discussing the studium and punctum of the image on Fox & Friends.