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?