President Obama apologized for his remark about the Special Olympics on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno before the episode was even broadcast.
Chatting with Jay Leno, the president said he had been practicing at the White House bowling alley and rolled a 129. “It was like the Special Olympics or something,” Mr. Obama said, perhaps also recalling his inept attempt at bowling in Altoona, Pa., during the presidential campaign.
The president called the chairman of the Special Olympics, Tim Shriver, from Air Force One on his way back to Washington. “He apologized in a way I think was very moving,” Mr. Shriver said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday. Mr. Shriver said the president sounded “very sincere” in voicing his desire not to add to anyone’s pain.
“Words hurt, words do matter,” added Mr. Shriver, son of the Special Olympics’ founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a sister of President John F. Kennedy, and R. Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps.
This is the eternal problem pols have when trying to mix comedy and politics: pols are not commedians. President Obama’s comedic response is usually–and gracefully–to make self-disparaging remarks. The safest target, after all, is oneself. Problems can arise when we reach out for comparisons.
Lesson learned. The President was wrong. He admitted it.
We should all make it a point to volunteer for or at least show up and cheer at the Special Olympics the next time they’re in our respective towns.