Finding Good in a Not-So-’Special’ Moment

You know, I am by no means a politically correct person. I crack jokes that I shouldn’t. And honestly, from what I have seen so far from our new president, if we were to put ideology aside Barack Obama and I share the same sense of humor.

That being said, I’m happy that the president apologized for the off-handed comment made on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” comparing his lackluster bowling skills with the Special Olympics. As a purveyor of the idea that we need to be more open and less offended in general, I was not as offended as was my wife, a nurse who works with special-needs children.

The part that offended me was the inequity. A few years ago, shock jock Don Imus called the Rutgers Womens’ basketball team “nappy-headed hos” while comparing them, aesthetically, with a Tennessee Volunteers team known as much for their nail polish and eye shadow as for their lay-ups and jump-shots. The comment, while in context no more than a brash contrast, was taken up and blown out of proportion. The black community was incensed. Al Sharpton called for the radio host’s head, and indeed he was suspended for a long, long time.

There was uproar about Obama’s “Special Olympics” comment, but nothing of the sort as seen with Imus and the Rutgers team. Nowhere near as much. And while I am not saying that there should have been uproar spanning several news cycles,given that the president did apologize even before the taped show aired, I’d just appreciate a little fairness when it comes to whom the selective outrage is directed.

We need open dialogue when it comes to matters of race, religion, disability and more. Such dialogue cannot exist in such a touchy, easily offended and often litigious environment. From this particular presidential slip-of-the-tongue, special-needs kids now have a standing invitation to display their bowling skills–and likely show up the president–in the White House bowling alley. I like that. My wife likes that.

So, I definitely understand why many have taken offense but, at the same time, I hope those who did take offense recognize the long-term good which can come from such open dialogue. Political correctness stands in the way of a truly free society, and can snowball into truly dangerous policy.

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Comments

  1. STATING THE OBVIOUS says:

    NO teleprompter = NO class

    End of debate

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ok, here’s my take – and i’m also not one of those highly offended people – i have one brother (22 yrs old) who is wheel chair bound and another brother(16 yrs old) who needs crutches/walker and a wheelchair to get around. They both have cerebral palsy. They are both really, really cool kids and are not victims (in their demeanor) of their very real and life-long disability. We’ve joked before about what they can’t do – they make jokes about themselves, in our family, and we all laugh, etc. So we’re not crazy senstitive.

    However, for the President to make a stupid joke on National Television…was a poor choice. It was tactless. Not terribly offensive (though i am sure someone, somewhere was very offended) but very tactless. He isn’t just some regular guy on the street..he holds the highest position in the land and thus should conduct himself with more decorum.

    So…for what it’s worth….

    ~laura

  3. NOT MY PREZ says:

    That poop eating grin of his really has to go.

  4. Linda says:

    You probably won’t post this, but I truly hate this “man” and his consistent and constant inappropriate as well as uneducated comments.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wow, I actually totally agree with everything you said here! We all need to be less offended, and realize that we are all human.

    Was his comment inappropriate? Yes, but I also think he probably meant that he is challenged by bowling. We all know that the Special Olympians could kick his butt at bowling.

    Obama is not my guy, but I felt that overall, his appearance on Leno put him in a positive light.

  6. PattyW says:

    These comments by our President were insulting and showed his immense ignorance. He insulted my brother, as well as all the men and women who compete each year in Bowling in the Special Olympics. To me it is inexcusable for ANY remark such as this to be coming from the mouth of the man who is supposed to be speaking FOR ALL AMERICANS!! It is inexcusable and insulting to people who cannot appear on FOX and defend themselves from such insults and it is exceedingly ignorant on BHO’s part because if he had spent as much time attended the Special Olympics Bowling competitions as he did on The Tonight Show, he may have learned a little about bowling from these fine bowlers! My brother can beat the pants off me any day of the week.! He may learn a little bit about himself , also….but I doubt it. Then to hear C. Wallace on FOX and FRIENDS claim that this remark was “No big deal” brought tears to my eyes! NO BIG DEAL?!! How would he like it if someone bullied one of his family members who could not defend themselves and then hear that it is NO BIG DEAL?!! I am appalled and saddened by this whole affair. This man has NO CLASS, NO COMPASSION, and NO BUSINESS BEING PRESIDENT!! He needs to PERSONALLY apologize to every member of the Special Olympics teams and workers. Nothing less would satisfy me. I AM VERY ANGRY!

  7. Celia in TX says:

    OK, a little OT, but was he wearing earrings?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I put Al Sharpton, Lewis Farrakan, and Rush Limbaugh all in that same category, as perpetuators of hate and racism and lets all be offended by this. Good grief people.

  9. Anonymous says:

    When are the impeachment proceedings starting?

  10. Anonymous says:

    What more can one say than the fact that this person is irresponsible, insensitive and really unaware of anything other than himself.

    His remarks were inappropriate for the occasion, and it is obvious that when unscripted he let’s loose in his “looseness.”

    His narcissistic disorder is catching up with him. Many of us have seen through him from day one. Others, particularly the younger and more enamored, cut him slack. It’s the “dumbing down” of the Presidency to the hilt.

    He’s not some school kid making fun of a classmate–he’s the President (not mine). Appropriate behavior is “above his pay grade.”

  11. Anonymous says:

    Good behavior in the first place is much better than theatrical apologies in the end. We all make mistakes, however, the President has to be held to a higher standard. I read somewhere that an aide had to tell him it was inappropriate and that he should apologize. He had the opportunity to apologize on the air in front of all the viewers, but, well… I guess he didn’t think of it. I guess America gets to really know who our President is and his character when he doesn’t bring along his teleprompter. He’s an embarrassment.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Why didn’t you invite the special needs community to the white house BEFORE you had to out of guilt, Mr. President?

  13. Anonymous says:

    First, I don’t think people should be so sensitive about everything. I am really tired of hearing people apologizing for everything they say.

    However, I think that he says these things because he really is not very bright. I really don’t like BO either, and I was incensed about the ads on the side of your webpage (I know you don’t endorse them, but really) that stated BO had an IQ of 120. That is my IQ and I believe that I am worlds more advanced intellectually than him.

    I just want to commend you for your recent ad that BO has an IQ of 86. I think that is more like it. I once new a man who was narcisistic, brown-nosing and actually VERY stupid in school (his IQ was in the upper 80′s) but one would not really know it because he always said everything that people wanted to hear. He even graduated from college (it took him 8 years going full time for a liberal arts degree and not working, so proves anyone can do it). I think BO is a lot like that.

    Nobody can prove me wrong because BO is refusing to let anyone see his college records.

    Nevertheless, if I am wrong (which you will never know unless you saw his records) then at least it makes me feel better because I never saw a grown man do more stupid things than him (unless you want to count the ones strung out on drugs and alcohol).

    By the way, did someone do a urine drug test on him before he took presidency? Just curious.

  14. Anonymous says:

    O should be forced to attend sensitivity training classes.

  15. Samantha says:

    He only apologized because word got out before the show aired. Greta had the clip at 10:00 p.m. His apology, “it was an offhand comment,” was just as offensive as the quote. He’s more a HS student than anything else.

    I agree with Stating The Obvious. The man should NOT leave home without his teleprompter.

    If he’s so socially immature in public, I would truly hate to hear what he says in private.

    I absolutely loathe this man.

  16. tm says:

    How would the leftie populace have dealt with this if it had been BUSH?
    BO has no respect for life,period.
    Sorry, I find offense with his comment on so many levels.

    Palin 2012 !

  17. Tigress says:

    Anyone who has watched some of the Special Olympics has seen how hard those athletes work and how much drive they possess.

    IMO, they are in a class way above Obama. He’s pathetic.

  18. tm says:

    New life for the GOP !
    Behold Rep. Thaddeus McCotter R Michigan 11th district

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTVTgxLo0V8&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fminx%2Ecc%2F%3Fpost%3D284653&feature=player_embedded

  19. CalifGirlInMaine says:

    The way I see it, when he speaks without his teleprompter, his true feelings and beliefs emerge. That was when we heard his “spread the wealth” belief, his attitude toward the gun-and-Bible crowd (the majority of American citizens?), and now his attitude toward those with disabilities. A person in a prominent position, and esp. the President, needs to weigh their words carefully before they speak, and should have an innate sense of decorum and appropriateness that they can rely on. Obama does not.

  20. Anonymous says:

    We are human and I doubt you could find a handful of people who haven’t made comments that are hurtful to others in one way or another. Personally, I didn’t hear an apology from Obama/Soetoro just another…oh well, he meant this… How many times have we heard “coverups” for people working in his administration? Why can’t they just say, i’m sorry without the added excuses? He threw his own grandmother under the bus because she became frightend of some black men on the street, well what he did last night hurt people too. Words hurt! Just publicly say you are sorry!

    I thought about a friends son born with Downs Syndrome and even though she and her husband had to deal with various medical problems over the years, that boy brought more love and joy into the hearts of everyone he met than any other human being I have seen. He never let you leave his company without a big smile, a hug, I love you and don’t forget to buckle your seatbelt! He passed away almost 3 years ago but to this day when I hear that buckle click I think about him.

    I hate this politically correct stuff and always have but when you make a mistake be a good enough person to fix it without all the excuses.

    Sally

  21. Anonymous says:

    first of all, an “Off handed” remark simply means that it was unprepared, and it displays how he really thinks. Gaffer-Biden does it all the time.

    The fact that he apologized makes no difference, he has already displayed that is how he thinks. This is just like the Military insurance debacle from earlier this week….true, he changed his tone, but that was after protest, and the fact that he wanted to disgrace our military in the first place shows the disdain he has for our soldiers.

    When the New York post had that monkey cartoon, Sharpton came out in fierce protest that this was racist and derogatory. It wasn’t. How come Sharpton doesn’t protest the derogatory nature of the Usurper’s comment?

    I am sorry, we can not go on sayign that “oh, everyone makes PC comments”. This is the President we are talking about here, someone who is supposed to be “the shining light of hope”. To attack a group of people who are otherwise defenseless……it goes with his attacks on unborn children, and injured military.

    Think about this, for all those defending him: at what point in your life would you have steadfastly defended a monster who mocked or insulted disabled children?

    It is not OK. The man is a monster.

  22. toto says:

    I have no problem with open comments, but, this is the POTUS we are talking about here, he shouldn’t be saying things like that, period. Since we’re on the subject of O being on Leno, when does this guy finally spend some time at the White House doing his job? Its like he’s still on the campaign trail, enough already, get to work, do some of the things you said you would do.

  23. Claudia says:

    I used to be the Alpine Ski coach for the Special Olympics and I BET THAT THEY COULD CREAM HIS ASS in any sport or game that even he might choose. I know that mine Specials could wipe him up with a silly towel no matter what sport, skiing, running,, golf, bowling, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, track and most likely even his favorite, Basketball, as they have heart, not soem stupid over inflated ego that constantly needs to be massaged by beating someone.

    I do somewhat agree that his remard, though out of place and over emphasized, should not have been given the attention or notoriety and should not be taken too seriously, but com’on, he is the President, for cripes sake, he should know better than to put anyone down with even an off-handed remard, that sorta goes with the job. Especially in this day of “political correctness” that we all have to abide by in each of our lives, everyday, lest we be criticized by just about everyone around us.

    He doesn’t show much class in anything he does, and that includes the gift he gave to the Prime Minsiter of Britain, which is now having been noted, as Brown tried to watch one of the videos, and COULDN’T because it was system PAL and not compliant with what they haave in Europe. NO CLASS SHOWN in anything he does……

  24. Anonymous says:

    If OHHHHHBama had stayed in Washington where he should have been considering the state of turmoil this country is in, he wouldn’t have to be dealing with another ‘foot-in-the-mouth’ episode. It is ironic that this appearance on Leno and photo ops in CA were supposed to recapture the ‘magic’ he had sprinkled on the zombies he mesmerized during the primaries….then he blunders again….I don’t think we needed a good ‘performance’ from our ‘resident in the White House’ on Leno, we would have been more impressed if he had his hand on the wheel and his eyes on the road and was focused on the problems we are facing. We don’t need jokes at this point. Of course, his followers are interested in ‘image’ and how ‘cool’ he is so it is not surprising that they loved this appearance.

  25. sharon says:

    There is a level of professionalism that should be present in the white house and administration. This administration has set the bar low, really low, so we should expect nothing more.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I also loathe this fraud.

    I am the parent of a special needs kiddo. I have seen her overcome more obstacles in her first 20 years than most will see in a lifetime. BO has no concept of overcoming obstacles. His claim to fame is the fact that his Grandmother raised him? No father around? BIG deal. I would have given my life for my daughter to only have had those things to deal with.

    That said, I am a far cry from being pc. I tell jokes, laugh at jokes, etc. I believe that political correctness is one of the downfalls of our society.

    However, if someone had said something offensive to blacks they would have been roasted for the next 6 months. Jeff, before I read your article, I was talking with my mother and we talked about the lynching of Don Imus, so I am on the same page with you!

    It must makes me mad that there is no level playing field on these things. Sharpton and his cronies wouldn’t believe Imus’ apology was sincere, so I’m not believing BO’s apology is sincere. He is an elitist hyprocrite who is showing his true “colors”.

    Great opinions Jeff, I am with you all the way!

  27. Jeff Schreiber says:

    I DEFINITELY understand where you guys are coming from — it IS conduct unbecoming of the president of the United States.

    Don’t think I don’t recognize that. Please don’t. Don’t think that I’m advocating mocking the disabled in an attempt to foster open dialogue — I’m not. The dialogue I’d like to see will come naturally after a special-needs bowling whiz kicks the president’s butt on his own bowling alley.

  28. Pro says:

    He has hurt many families in America. He needs to say he is sorry in the public, not to an organization.

    In addition, someone who claims to have experienced prejudice and stereotypes throughout life, and has written about them in great detail, should be more sensitive and refined from life’s lessons.

    Furthermore, Obama claimed he was going to have the world think ‘highly’ of America again. Will this joke help?

    For someone who spoke of equality as a creed. Does this joke match that philosophy?

    For someone that said he would stand for all people. Does this stand up for those that participate in the special Olympics?

    The fact is Obama claimed a higher standard. To much is given, much is required.

    Obama has just showed us that ‘yes we can’ destroy what a campaign stands for with a single joke.

    During the campaign for the White House in 2008, the media criticized Palin for being ‘common,’ ‘not-polished,’ ‘not-compassionate’ and ‘not presidential.’ However, compare Sarah Palins attitude in this video created three weeks ago for the Special Olympics in Boise, Idaho.

    You decide the more ‘presidential’ among them. Watch: http://tinyurl.com/ccz6nj

  29. Katherine says:

    “We need open dialogue when it comes to matters of race, religion, disability and more. Such dialogue cannot exist in such a touchy, easily offended and often litigious environment. From this particular presidential slip-of-the-tongue, special-needs kids now have a standing invitation to display their bowling skills–and likely show up the president–in the White House bowling alley. I like that. My wife likes that.

    So, I definitely understand why many have taken offense but, at the same time, I hope those who did take offense recognize the long-term good which can come from such open dialogue. Political correctness stands in the way of a truly free society, and can snowball into truly dangerous policy.”

    I could not agree with you more! I expected you to have posted on this issue and I was wondering what you’d have to say about it…I figured we wouldn’t agree on something because we rarely do, but these summary comments are SPOT ON.

    I DO think that Obama’s comment was offensive. I DO think that he needed to apologize for it. I think that we need to be “sensitive” in the sense that we need to be aware of such remarks and call them out as oppressive to the groups that they denigrate. However, I think that we need to also CHILL OUT and stop persecuting the people who make such comments; in almost all cases they’re done by accident. (Yes, I’m saying the Imus reaction was overkill.) Those offended also need to be open-minded about the intentions of the speaker and also why they had those views in the first place (an f-ed up society).

    Dialogue is what is really most important regarding these issues of gender, race, class, religion, ability, sexuality, etc. That’s the only way we’ll come to mutual understanding and appreciation of each other. It’s actually the premise of my one extra-curricular activity that I do in grad school.

    I still applaud Obama for making his speech on race last year because it was the first time I noticed a politician jump right into a “sensitive” issue without dancing around it. But clearly he has some growth to do regarding other social identities such as disability. (Most people are more enlightened regarding the social identities where they are part of an oppressed group rather than a privileged group, so it’s not surprising.)

    Oh yeah and for the record I have full confidence that special olympics athletes would kick Obama’s butt at bowling.

  30. Katherine says:

    PS — I just saw from another news source that Obama apparently invited Special Olympics athletes to come to the white house to bowl or play basketball…we’ll see if it actually happens. But yeah, at least he is acting like he wants to have that dialogue. If a true dialogue comes of this, it could serve to raise awareness about special needs people more, hopefully a net positive. But if it stops here then we all lose.

  31. Anonymous says:

    You will probably get your chance Jeff. I am sure BO will invite one of these special needs persons to the WH to bowl with him, but I doubt he would have him at his Wednesday night party. He is a fraud and a liar.

  32. PattyW says:

    If BHO has ANYONE at the White House now to bowl, it will all be for his own benefit, not the bowler. If it were me, I would politely decline the offer as it would all be for stroking BHO’s ego, not the bowlers. You see, most Special Olympics Bowlers, like my brother, DON”T EVEN REALIZE THE PRESIDENT INSULTED THEM! So you say “What’s the difference, then?” Like Chris Wallace insensitively said, “No big deal,” right? It is a very big deal for the simple reason that these folks cannot defend themselves, EVER!! BHO apologized to The Special Olympics chairman, not to the PEOPLE he insulted! “Political Correctness Offends Me!” I believe that but for the President of the US to go on a nationally televised comedy show and try to be cute by insulting the defenseless among us is an outrage. God help us!
    Jeff,
    There is a misperception on your part when you to refer to these Olympians as “kids”. Many are adults,like my 49 yr old brother, a Special Olympic bowler. They deserve the respect any adult would expect to receive from someone in the White House. They don’t ask for pity or condescending “token” displays of sensitivity from Obama or anyone.

  33. NERO OBAMA says:

    As ‘Rome’ is burning, Obama is fiddling. One sorry fellow.

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