Obama the Insensitive

In a recent taping of The Tonight Show, President Obama remarked about his own (evidently lacking) bowling skills, saying “It was like the Special Olympics or something.”  To his credit (or at least the White House staff prompting him to do so), he has already apologized to the head of the Special Olympics.  That said, in many ways the damage has been done and cannot easily be reversed.

Now, I don’t want to make too much of this, as everyone makes mistakes and says things they wish they had not.  Still, as the father of a “special needs” child, this made me feel badly.  Truth be told, I know that I’ve made my fair-share of “Special Olympics” jokes in the past – before I understood a bit better what their lives are like.  Watching people stare down your child at the local mall has a way of changing your outlook.  What they see is an almost six-year-old boy, in a wheelchair, wearing hearing aids, and (typically) acting pretty silly.  What I see is my son who already has more strikes against him in life than most people will ever deal with.  He doesn’t need strange looks (or unnecessary comments) from people who have no idea what his life is really like.

Mr. President – I forgive you, for what it’s worth.  However, if you really want to apologize and make a difference, spend some time with the “special needs” people of our country.  Go help out at the Special Olympics or somewhere similar.  Let the citizens of our country know that these oft-joked-about people are real human-beings with feelings, hopes, and a desire to be accepted.

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3 Responses to “Obama the Insensitive”


  1. 1 Jax March 21, 2009 at 5:05 am

    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:

    http://tinyurl.com/ccz6nj

  2. 2 Kevin LeRoy March 22, 2009 at 5:33 am

    Thanks for your post. I agree with you re: forgiveness. Like you, I have made my fair share of jokes on behalf of those with “Special Needs”. However, after knowing a number of folks that are disabled I have to say you see joy and innocence that many of us wish we had.

  3. 3 Josh March 24, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly. In fact, I’d like to see him do something like that. I think your testimony would make a good header for an online petition…but then the general consensus seems to be that they are virtually (heh) useless. So maybe drop a note to the White House? They SAY they want to be a more accessible administration (heh again).

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

    On the other hand, an e-petition can be effective if it instructs people to visit this contact page to write in support of the idea, perhaps giving them a form letter to use, edit or add on to. I once put one together and it eventually reached nearly 40,000 signatures. If you do, let me know! I’ll pass it around! :o) Probably post it to sites/boards that revolve around support for families, etc.


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