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Obama's Olympian Slip of the Intellect

Monday, 23 Mar 2009 08:16 AM

Barack Obama’s crack about Special Olympics was no slip of the tongue, but a rip in the curtain that conceals the man he really is.

It’s expected that families of the intellectually disabled would take umbrage when the president tried to embellish his faltering popularity by being funny at those dear people’s expense on the Jay Leno late-night television show.

So, a parent with no intellectually disabled son or daughter needs to speak up in outrage. We are, as John Donne wrote, “all a part of the main.” Here goes:

First of all, when Obama’s tongue compared his poor bowling skills with Special Olympics, that didn’t fit any dictionary definition of a slip: “a mistake or oversight, as in speaking or writing, especially a small one due to carelessness.”

Saying, “Kansas City, Kan.,” when you mean “Kansas City, Mo.,” is a slip of the tongue. So is calling your wife by the name of an old flame. There was nothing accidental, careless or Freudian about what Obama said.

Not by accident did he board Air Force One, with Secret Service minders, staff lackeys, and press chroniclers, and fly at considerable taxpayer expanse to Los Angeles (and back again) to get himself on TV with a popular comedian.

Nor was Obama being careless. He had prepped himself on his political talking points about rescuing the economy. Anyone who thinks Special Olympics just popped into his head while he was bantering with Leno might wish to have his own examined. Obama’s misfired attempt at humor by ridicule had every appearance of being rehearsed and staged.

Poor old Freud wasn’t in the picture when Obama, who knew he was expected to crack wise with Leno, decided to milk his publicized lack of grace on the bowling lanes for laughs. How better than by demeaning Special Olympics?

Obama was the biggest laugher at his own “joke,” indicating to Leno and the studio audience to join with him in his hilarity.

What’s so funny about Special Olympics? When you watch them you see the intellectually disabled (that’s the term Special Olympics uses), mostly children, doing their darnedest to do their best in some athletic event.

Their performances are a lot of things — including astounding, heartwarming, inspiring, evoking gratitude, pride, and love. Laughable they’re not.

What’s to laugh at when disabled fellow humans strive with all they’ve got but still come up short in comparison with the prowess of the non-disabled?

However, such a sight is obviously funny as hell to this president of the United States — so funny, in fact, he couldn’t wait to share his cruel joke with millions on TV. Such arrogance, which is what it was, is insufferable.

Sure, Obama fell all over himself making amends but not until his own guffawing subsided and he learned after the show what a rotten egg he had laid.

His PR flack called it a slip of the tongue. (Believe that if you wish.) When that didn’t fly, even among the fawning White House press corps on Air Force One en route home, the designated spokesman fell on another sword for his chief: The president was only poking fun at himself. Chuckle, chuckle.

Since when do you poke fun at yourself by poking fun at intellectually disabled fellow Americans who can’t help themselves, yet still do their very best?

Obama chose to run for president. Those he ridiculed didn’t choose to be intellectually disabled. They’re trying their best just the same. When it comes to intellect, this president isn’t even in their league. His cheap shot at the intellectually disabled revealed the extent and true nature of his own intellect.

Special Olympics, founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver out of compassion in 1968, is a class act. Barack Obama, elected out of nowhere in 2008, is not.

Where did this fellow get his upbringing? Who schooled him on what’s funny? Or on what’s courageous? What kind of man have we elected president?

Well, at least he’s no comedian.

John L. Perry, a prize-winning newspaper editor and writer who served on White House staffs of two presidents, is a regular columnist for Newsmax.com. Read John Perry's columns here.

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