Friday, March 20, 2009

Oops! President Obama & Special Olympics Gaffe On Leno

The media is abuzz with President Obama's unfortunate language choice made last night during his interview with Jay Leno. The President equated his less-than-stellar bowling skills to those of Special Olympics athletes. 

Ouch! -and oops!

Once the blunder was realized, the President quickly called Special Olympics' chairman, Tim Shriver, apologized and then invited the talented athletes to visit the White House. I hope that happens, and that the media covers it well. 

I also think that President Obama should take Tim Shriver up on his challenge to hire someone with an intellectual disability to work at the White House (aka 'The People's House').

Here's my take on the whole hullabaloo: The President's major slip-of-the-tongue was wrong and he knows it. As the nation's first black president, he should be especially sensitive to avoiding word usage that helps foster deep-seated, painful and outdated stereotypes. But President Obama did quickly own up to his mistake and apologized for the insulting gaffe. My guess is he won't repeat this one.

Plus, the media event has helped create increased discussion about special needs, language use and stereotypes, and the remarkable accomplishments of Special Olympics' athletes, invaluable awareness and discussion created at the nation's highest level. 

....and that is a good thing.

What's your take?

Catch Tim Shriver on CNN's Larry King tonight.

You can read the official Special Olympics statement about the President's gaffe here.
You can read my lengthy interview with Tim Shriver in my book. 

Photo of Eunice Kennedy Shriver courtesy of Special Olympics. Used with permission.
Photo of me with my hubby & Tim Shriver/Special Olympics' headquarters/Washington, D.C.

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