Save Your Outrage for Something Outrageous

Posted by on March 20, 2009

Like many of you, I watched Obama on Leno last night. Unlike many of you, I fail to see what the big fuss is about. The media-generated moral outrage at President Obama’s Special Olympics remark is just that…media-generated. Additionally, it’s somewhat ironic that the same party of people who think it’s hilarious to mass email jokes and comics regarding black stereotypes in reference to Obama are suddenly all up in arms because he dared to utter the words ‘Special Olympics’ on a comedy talk show.

I watched Obama on Leno. In fact, I watched it twice and Obama’s remark about the Special Olympics was clearly in reference Leno praising Obama’s bowling score in a patronizing way (jokingly, of course). It was so obvious to me that the remark was directed at Leno—how anyone could have interpreted it as a slur against those who particpate in the Special Olympics is beyond me.

Edited to add:

Leno joking praised Obama’s bowling scores and then Obama said  “That was like the Special Olympics or something” while gesturing to Leno with his left hand, indicating that he was addressing Leno’s mocking praise.

You can see this exchange at 22 seconds into the following video:

I know Obama has issued an apology but that’s to be expected. Even though he didn’t do anything wrong, IMO, he knows how the media works and he knew, probably as soon as the words came out of his mouth, that a shitstorm was going to ensue, warranted or not.

I could understand why people would be outraged if Obama had truly made some kind of hurtful remark about the Special Olympics. My own son is in a special ed preschool program for a speech delay and I worked with developmentally delayed and autistic adults for over five years so it’s not as though I don’t understand or that I’m not empathetic because I am.  And believe me, if I really felt like Obama had insulted those with special needs or those who participate in the Special Olympics, I would be upset, as well.

But I just don’t think he did. If anything he was referencing how Leno was speaking to him and drawing a parallel with how people treat folks with developmental disabilities, which is, per my observations, very patronizingly. I fail to see how that would be hurtful or insulting. It’s certainly not untrue.

There’s simply nothing to be angry about—there was NO disparaging remark—and more than anything, this whole brouhaha is a distraction from the real issues at hand (although you can’t blame the media for wanting something else to beat to death. The nonstop 24-7 news coverage of AIG and Bernie Madoff IS getting pretty tiresome)

Can we move on now?


  • Maria says:

    Totally agree with you.

    Maria’s last blog post..Some Rights Reserved

  • Maria says:

    I agree, and you make a very good point that during the entire election MANY people felt that it was totally acceptable to knock not only blacks but muslims/hindus/insert non-christian religion here.

    Maria’s last blog post..I want to go to Grammy’s house

  • The folks at Special Olympics may beg to differ. Here is a link to their official statement.
    My personal thin-skinned opinion? His comment ticked me off. The really nasty stuff starts when the snide little asides are blown off.

  • Mirinda says:

    The President should be held to a higher level of responsibility than the rest of us. He is, after all, the president of the most powerful country in the WORLD. This remark, even made in good humor (yet who makes jokes about their bowling scores being equal to the Special Olympics?), does not set a good example, and is not funny.

    It’s part of his job to be scrutinized, and if he can’t make it through one off-the-cuff media session without making a slip-up, maybe he needs to rethink his TV appearances. Or stick to his trusty teleprompter. Quit trying to be a celebrity and act like the president.

    And let’s just imagine what had gone down if Bush had made the exact comment….oy vey!

    Mirinda’s last blog post..mirinda’s monologue

  • Caffeinatrix says:

    Did you even read my post? It’s plainly evident he wasn’t comparing his scores to the Special Olympics. Period.

  • Mirinda says:

    His exact quote…yep, I’d say he was comparing going by his exact words.

    The leader of the free world jokingly told Jay Leno that he’d bowled a 129 at the White House’s private alley, adding, “That was like the Special Olympics or something.”

    Mirinda’s last blog post..mirinda’s monologue

  • heels says:

    “Can we move on now?”


    This is important realtive to… human rights atrocities? Starving children? American public school failures? Ummm- no. I don’t think so.

    A little perspective, please? That’s all I ask. The media is out of control.

  • Sarah says:

    Definitely not the best thing to say. But, that is the risk he takes going on a late night comedy show. I suppose if that is the meanest thing he will joke about, well, that is not bad.

    Yes, let us move on. Like why the US Congress is pretending they didn’t know about AIG bonuses.

  • I totally missed the whole furor. I watched the tape. All I can say is that it’s a sad, sad, day when a public figure can’t make a joke at his own expense. When did we get so touchy? Do we have to make a big deal out of everything?

  • Jessica says:

    I totally agree.

    Now, there is this whole discussion up about how if Bush did this we would be up in arms, but because it is Obama we give him grace because he is “likeable”. Come on. Get over yourselves!

    Jessica’s last blog post..An apology-

  • I totally agree.

    I’m sure if he had had more time to think about it he would have chosen different words. I honestly don’t think he meant anything by it.

    Yes, it was inappropriate, but no, it wasn’t a big deal.

    Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah’s last blog post..No Circus for Me

  • Jennifer says:

    My blood pressure has gone down significantly since I quit watching a lot of the crap that is on television. I get my news from PBS and NPR and my local paper (thank the gods we still have one here in Omaha).

    I didn’t even know about this “controversy” but just reading the pissy comments from the one reader above made my BP go up again! (Breathe, Jennifer. Breathe…)

    As heels said (though in a more polite way) there is a lot of shit going on in the world right now. Let’s focus, people!

  • I agree. And it’s these overblown incidents (because I agree with Sarah – it was inappropriate but it wasn’t a big deal) that scream “distraction by media” to me. Like Russell Brand / BBC incident appeared manipulated by the UK press to distract from the economic crisis and the US election, this was appears to be a shiny object to distract from AIG bonuses or something else that the mainstream media / puppet masters don’t want people talking about. But of course, I’m a foreigner and this is just how it appears to me from the outside looking in the fishbowl.

  • Cara says:

    It was a nothing comment. He did not mean it offensively. Having said that, I have to agree with one of the earlier comments that someone of his position and stature should not make statements of that sort. But is it news? Hell no. Lets get back to the other questionable stuff he is doing, like the bailouts and the stimulus package and his, ahem, appointees. THAT stuff is news.

  • I have a nine year-old with autism, and a seven year-old in a wheelchair stricken with cancer — who just got invited to participate in the Special Olympics.

    Obama’s comment didn’t offend me one bit. Not one little, tiny, tiny, minute bit. You’re right, people need to get something better to do.

  • nicopolitan says:

    hear, hear.

    what i do think is interesting lately about this is how the only people who really freak out about this are the pundits, in the hopes of freaking the rest of us out, while regular people like, say, bloggers, have been giving a more realistic and pragmatic viewpoint.

    nicopolitan’s last blog post..Some Rights Reserved

  • JC says:

    I have a nephew with Down syndrome who is a good athlete. He and all the other children who compete in Special Olympics are enthusiastically cheered like Jay Leno did for President Obama regardless of their results. That’s what he was referring to – obviously. I was not offended and chuckled when he said it. The media’s reaction is over the top – again.

  • Apryl's Antics says:

    As someone who regularly inserts her foot into her mouth, I say give the man a break. It’s easy to make a stupid remark or even one that comes off as offensive without intention. I do it ALL of the time. I know I’m not on camera and I’m not the leader of the free world, but I am human and I do believe that’s something we all have in common.

  • Apryl's Antics says:

    As someone who regularly inserts her foot into her mouth, I say give the man a break. It’s easy to make a stupid remark or even one that comes off as offensive without intention. I do it ALL of the time. I know I’m not on camera and I’m not the leader of the free world, but I am human and I do believe that’s something we all have in common.

  • Apryl's Antics says:

    As someone who regularly inserts her foot into her mouth, I say give the man a break. It’s easy to make a stupid remark or even one that comes off as offensive without intention. I do it ALL of the time. I know I’m not on camera and I’m not the leader of the free world, but I am human and I do believe that’s something we all have in common.

  • Apryl's Antics says:

    As someone who regularly inserts her foot into her mouth, I say give the man a break. It’s easy to make a stupid remark or even one that comes off as offensive without intention. I do it ALL of the time. I know I’m not on camera and I’m not the leader of the free world, but I am human and I do believe that’s something we all have in common.

  • Chris says:

    There are two things wrong with this country: Republicans and Democrats.

    Oh and Wall Street scum. And media scum. And sports agents. And professional athletes. And white collar criminals. And collarless criminals. And deadbeat dads………..

    Chris’s last blog post..Over The Loud Speakers

  • Sparrow says:

    Despite the media circus, I honestly have no interest in this whole thing. I have the show Tivo’d, but I still haven’t gotten around to watching it. We all put our foot in our mouth from time to time. It seems every week my mom, for example, congratulates at least two non-pregnant women on their impending blessed events.

    And honestly, I’m sure if at the end of his term(s) we tallied his faux-pas up next to the previous president’s, well…Obama would fare much better. Cut the guy some slack, I say. He’s got a lot on his plate right now.

    Sparrow’s last blog post..This and That and the Other

  • Sb says:

    I am in a situation where I am being falsely accused by someone who was mentally recording everything I said and matching it up against their mental database of what might possibly be construed as offensive. It is really uncomfortable to have your every word examined for possible offense and to be found guilty. I feel for the guy.

  • SciFi Dad says:

    I agree with elements of other comments:
    1. It was inappropriate
    2. It was blown out of proportion by the media
    3. I think he got off easy, and that Bush would have been treated far more harshly for the same comment.

    SciFi Dad’s last blog post..Summer Activities

  • Becca says:

    Of course you don’t think he said anything wrong– because you like him! We all know how much Bush was ridiculed and had he said this, you can bet you’d be posting about it with your pants all in a wad. Love your blog though, lol– I’m just saying!

  • Caffeinatrix says:

    Alos? Bush was ridiculed largely because he was an IDIOT who had no business running a country, let alone a lemonade stand.

    I’m just sayin :)

  • Christie says:

    Did you see what a big deal that baby machine from The View made of it. God, why hasn’t someone punched her yet?

  • Musing says:

    I love Obama, because he’s so darn human.

  • Sarcastica says:

    I totally and completely agree with you. I get those “your special” emails once a day, how is that any different from his “slip up”? I mean, shouldn’t all those people laughing at the “short bus” emails and sending them on make public apologizes?

    Obama is human, he made a slip up – and really, it wasn’t that bad of one. It’s not the end of the world by any means. If anything, it was slightly funny. I heard laughing in the background, and I bet all those people putting a stink up about it had a laugh too.

    I think what it all comes down to is making him look bad in some way, because that’s the media for ya.

  • Couldn’t agree more. Let the man deal with the mess that he agreed to take on for goodness sake! He’s brave.

    I did see Elizabitch go off and Barbara Walters put it into perspective, I guess she had a sister who was mentally challenged, she didn’t see any harm in it. I guess Palin did. We should all care what Palin thinks…

  • Kristabella says:

    I originally read the transcript of the show and was kind of like “oh. That was bad.” But then over the weekend, I actually watched it and it was NOT as bad as it was made out to seem. I totally agree with you.

    I just love that we have a President that not only goes on a late-night talk show to appeal to the masses, but that can be impromptu.

    Kristabella’s last blog post..Bacon Thinks Stupid People Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Google

  • Amanda says:

    I didn’t watch it but later saw it on the news. Didn’t think it was a big deal at all.

  • Mirinda says:

    @Caffeinatrix, I watched the actual show.

    Mirinda’s last blog post..mirinda’s monologue

  • Caffeinatrix says:

    Yes, that’s what he said and he said it to Leno after Leno praised his score in a manner that one would use with a small child or, as I’ve personally observed hundreds of times, someone mentally-disabled.

    He said “That was like the Special Olympics or something.” while gesturing to Leno with his left hand, indicating that he was addressing Leno’s mocking praise.

    The facts speak for themselves and you can see it with your own eyes at 22 seconds into the following video:

  • Caffeinatrix says:

    I think the “other side” is always going to try and make someone’s gaffes into a big deal. In this case, however, the outrage is totally without merit.

    And since when are Republicans all about the political correctness? They HATE political correctness and their bizarre cult-like worship of ex-junkie Rush Limbaugh is a perfect example of that fact.

    You said it, sistah… GET OVER YOURSELVES!

  • Caffeinatrix says:

    I agree. It’s really absurd and this hyper-politically correct world we now live in has accomplished two really notable things…it’s provided a way to neuter any kind of candid discussion of REAL opinions and it’s become a powerful tool for bashing one’s political adversaries.

  • Caffeinatrix says:

    A little perspective…such a simple and succinct way of summing it all up. And yes, the media IS out of control. I want actual news and intellectual, fact-based commentary, not this sensationalist, witch-hunt nonsense.

  • Caffeinatrix says:

    Thank you for sharing your point of view, Kim. I think it holds a lot of weight in this discussion.

  • Caffeinatrix says:

    I’m a big fan of NPR and PBS, particularly for news. GMTA :)

  • Caffeinatrix says:

    So by extension, what you’re saying is that the people who DO think he did something wrong are only saying it because they DON’T like him… Interesting how that works.

  • Caffeinatrix says:

    I would totally agree with you if there were any actual insult to any actual group of people. Since there wasn’t the media frenzy is just silly. As for Bush, I think he earned his harsh treatment by repeatedly saying stupid things over the course of eight years. But he probably should have been cut some slack—it’s really not his fault this country elected a moron into such a high profile position.Twice.

  • Becca says:

    @Caffeinatrix, Well, when you say it that way, I guess so. :) BUT (and this is a big but), I like Obama, so maybe I am one of the ones that likes him but thinks that what he said was totally out of line. Do I think that the media is making too big a deal of it? OF COURSE. They make too big a freaking deal about everything. All I was saying was that (and again, I’ve been following your new blog, so I know your stance!) I was pretty sure I knew who would be posting things like, “What Obama said wasn’t a big deal…” But had it been Bush, I guarantee you WOULD be making a big deal. That’s all I’m sayin :)

  • Becca says:

    This made me laugh!

  • Caffeinatrix says:

    No, I didn’t catch it but I’m not at all surprised because Elizabeth Hasselbeck is such a friggin idiot windbag, just like Rush Limbaugh.

    And “baby machine”? lololololol..thank you for the biggest laugh of my whole day :)

  • The Caffeinatrix says:

    They’re entitled to their opinion and I’m entitled to disagree with it. God bless America!

  • The Caffeinatrix says:

    Palin who? lol

  • The Caffeinatrix says:

    That’s because you are a reasonable person, not a bandwagon-jumping moron :)

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