President Obama Jokes About Special Olympics

Friday, March 20, 2009

I was planning to continue talking about Legislative Day, but that'll have to wait because I just have to address the issue of President Obama's appearance on The Tonight Show last night.

I am going to tread very lightly on this one--to the best of my ability--because I really am at a loss, and I'm requesting your feedback. By now you've heard about Obama's joke about Special Olympics and the apology he issued soon thereafter. Concerning his poor bowling performance, he said, laughing, "It was like Special Olympics!" This has been the talk of the day and there are varying degrees of reactions.

A few people--very few--are quick to dismiss what he said with, "Get over it! Stop being so sensitive." Many more admit to the insensitivity of the comment but don't believe he was being malicious at all (just talking without his teleprompter for the first time! Sorry, I couldn't help myself!). Still there may be some who believe that the president knew exactly what he was saying and did so on purpose.

Those of you who frequent Motivation: Truth probably read my recent post where I wrote about my classroom discussion about people with special needs. At the end of that post, I placed a video of Sarah Palin with her son Trig who has Down Syndrome. This was a video promoting Special Olympics and expressing the special place it will have in the life of her son.

This is where I'm stuck. I hope with all my heart that what some people believe is not true. Please tell me you don't think President Obama's comments were a deliberate slap in the face of the woman he still perceives as a threat in order to counter the video I'm sure he knows she recently released. Tell me that's nonsense...please. I'm requesting that you leave a comment stating where you stand on this issue.

Now, I have made it clear that I disagree with much of what Barack Obama stands for. I do not trust him, I do not think he knows what he's doing, and I do not think his kind of "change" is what America needs. But this? Is he capable of such a low? Some believe he is and that he knew exactly what he was saying. I just don't know, so I can't say.

But I will say this: Malicious or simply insensitive, his "joke" illustrates the mindset that many in our culture possess. Just as I discussed with a friend recently, how many of you have ever called someone a "retard," or used the word "retarded" to insult someone whose actions you didn't like or who just said something that offended you? Just the fact that you used those words as an insult illustrates how you view people with special needs--without even realizing it. When I pointed that out to a friend recently, she said, "I never thought about that before. I'm not going to say that again." I so respect her immediate desire to change; she didn't want to demean special needs people, so when she realized that her words could be perceived as such, she made a decision not to use those words again. And giving credit where credit is due, President Obama did make a call to the chairman of Special Olympics and apologized for his words. But clearly, we have prejudices and deeply entrenched mindsets that we don't even realize, and Barack Obama is obviously no exception--unless of course he did realize it all along, as has been suggested, which you can decide for yourself.

I'll tell you what, though...Place Sarah Palin's views about the most vulnerable among us side by side with Barack Obama's, and I'll take hers any day. The woman has a heart: a heart for God, a heart for what's right. It's this reason, more than any other, that I am already at work to convince her that we are a nation that needs her in the White House--and the sooner, the better. 2012 sounds good to me!

Governor Palin issued a statement regarding the president's gaffe:

Comments on President’s Remarks on Leno
Governor Palin Responds


Governor Comments on President’s Remarks on Leno
March 20, 2009, Juneau, Alaska – Governor Sarah Palin responded to remarks made last night by President Obama related to the Special Olympics on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

“I was shocked to learn of the comment made by President Obama about Special Olympics,” Governor Palin said. “This was a degrading remark about our world’s most precious and unique people, coming from the most powerful position in the world.“These athletes overcome more challenges, discrimination and adversity than most of us ever will. By the way, these athletes can outperform many of us and we should be proud of them. I hope President Obama’s comments do not reflect how he truly feels about the special needs community.”

Watch her video once again and then click to watch President Obama's comments on Youtube: How do they stack up against one another?


Ron Devito March 21, 2009 at 10:45 AM  


You are spot dead on regarding Obama's joke pertaining to the Special Olympics...and about Governor Palin's soul. Here is what I posted on the subject yesterday on a Yahoo Buzz story:

"The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who are least able to defend and to speak for themselves." Those are Governor Palin's words spoken at a rally in which she discussed children with special needs. When she was on the stump she would privately meet with these children and take them in her arms -- even when it delayed her schedule. Obama's broadside at the Special Olympics on Jay Leno speaks volumes about what kind of person he is. Obama has a dark and ugly soul and is self-absorbed. I cannot bring myself to say "President" and "Obama" without at least one word separating the two. Governor Palin has the soul of an angel. I would put my very life in her hands without compunction, knowing that I would be safe. Sarah 2012.

FulghumInk March 23, 2009 at 12:04 PM  

Every challenge our Sarah has met in life was met with no prior experience. Because of her integrity, she has always demonstrated the capacity to know what to do in all of those challenges.

Her precious life abides in life because she abides in the One who requires it.

As is exhorted in Scripture, "Buy their fruits you will know them."

Anonymous,  March 30, 2009 at 6:46 PM  

One thing about Pres. Obama's "joke" that I don't understand is this: what made him think it was funny? I've heard many tasteless jokes in my life; we all have. Sometimes it's hard to resist laughing, even when we know we should. In other cases, we can see how the joke is funny, even if our sense of decency overrides our sense of humor. But with this joke, I still fail to see what Obama (or anyone else) would see as being "funny" about it.

I just don't get it.

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