I venture that in Obama's careful calibration of his post-racial America there is always a fear of white fear. He is exquisitely sensitive to white — particularly non-elite white — impressions of his occupancy of the White House. He is eager not to disconcert Middle America, and had blundered only days before in his intervention in the Gates-Crowley affair. This ruffled many whites: They were taken aback, disquieted and were reminded, perhaps, of Obama's remarks about bitter and intolerant small-town voters who cling to their faith and guns, made before the Pennsylvania primary....What bothered me about Biden's presence — as I hinted here — is that it underscored the fact that the President was on Gates's side with respect to the disputed facts of the incident. It reminded us that it wouldn't have worked to have Obama bringing the 2 men together, because Obama had thrown away his potential as a mediator even as he now wants to pose as a mediator. That was all very incoherent, as was the silly remedy of bringing in Biden.
I was not privy to the reasoning behind the decision to draw Biden into the meeting. But I do know that his presence altered the racial chemistry in a crucial way. And in doing so, it allowed President Obama to ensure that he didn't compound those racial fears — incipient, unsettling —that he'd stoked days before when he "acted stupidly."
Well, Biden is next in line for the Presidency, and Obama had (stupidly) vacated the presidential seat for an issue that supposedly demanded presidential attention. (It didn't, but if it did, Obama had disqualified himself to act upon it.) Biden was needed so it wouldn't be 2 men who thought one thing happened against 1 man who thought something else, and then it seemed — Varadarajan saw it this way — that the 2 against 1 problem was 2 black men against 1 white man — that they require (or think we require) racial balancing.