I was a supporter of Presidential candidate Obama for the reason he campaigned that he would fully fund IDEA so that our children can receive all the supports and services needed in order to be fully included in public schools. He lost that support last night when he appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. “President Obama attempted a “joke” about his bowling abilities, and told Leno that his bowling score, with practice, had risen to 129. “That’s very good, Mr. President,” Leno deadpanned. It’s “like the Special Olympics or something,” the president replied. During the campaign season, then-candidate Obama described his bowling skills as “terrible” after scoring 37 when he hit the lanes on the campaign trail in Altoona, Pennsylvania. A perfect score is 300. “
Sure, a White House spokesman said the remark was not intended to disparage Special Olympics athletes, who have intellectual disabilities. “The president “thinks the Special Olympics is a wonderful program that gives an opportunity for people with disabilities from around the world,” said White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton.”
I understand Timothy Shriver has accepted the President’s apology, but for me his remark cannot be “apologized away”. It came from President Obama’s beliefs; that those with intellectual disabilities are “beneath” others in society. It's almost as bad as him using the R-word. You can’t just make an off-hand comment like that if you truly believe in the abilities of those with disabilities. I know I would never make a comment like that, as I know better.
Maybe he meant it only in the context of their athletic ability? Perhaps, but it is still deep rooted belief of his that cannot be explained or apologized away, and no amount of “face” he will no doubt now have at Special Olympics events will change this belief. A belief that will continue to spread through the country, and the world, now that our President espouses it.
I voted for Mr. Obama because he promised change, and provided the promise of Hope to our country. I thought he “got it”.
Instead Mr. President, you have broken my heart. But worse, you have broken my son’s Hope.