Monday, November 30, 2015

Trump, Obama, and People With Disabilities

The big topic last weekend: Trump mocks reporter with disability.

Donald Trump claims that accusation is unfounded.

Should we be surprised that this latest Trump controversy is drawing so much attention?

Not at all.

What is interesting is the degree to which Trump's tone is criticized and his remarks condemned. When Obama mocked Special Olympians while chatting with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show, he didn't receive anywhere near the same level of outrage for his cruelty.

From March 2009:

Take away Barack Obama's teleprompter and odds are he'll put his foot in his mouth.

He did exactly that when chatting with Jay Leno during that ever so historic appearance on the Tonight Show.

Here's the very, very uncool exchange:

MR. LENO: Now, are they going to put a basketball –- I imagine the bowling alley has been just burned and closed down.

MR. OBAMA: No, no. I have been practicing all –- (laughter.)

MR. LENO: Really? Really?

MR. OBAMA: I bowled a 129. (Laughter and applause.)

MR. LENO: No, that's very good. Yes. That's very good, Mr. President.

MR. OBAMA: It's like -- it was like Special Olympics, or something. (Laughter.)

MR. LENO: No, that's very good.

MR. OBAMA: No, listen, I'm making progress on the bowling, yes.

Wouldn't you think by now Obama would be better at speaking off-the-cuff?

How could he possibly come up with that Special Olympics remark?

Not cool at all.

From FOX News:

President Obama sat down with Jay Leno on Thursday for a late-night TV interview that spanned a range of topics -- from the economic crisis to the presidential dog -- and even, at one point, featured the president joking that his bowling ability was suitable for the Special Olympics.

The bowling comment was a reminder of his poor performance on the lanes last year during one of his campaign stops. Obama bragged to "The Tonight Show" that he recently bowled 129 on the White House alley.

...On Thursday evening, Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said the president's "offhand" remarks were meant to make fun "of his own bowling and in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics."

"He thinks that the Special Olympics are a wonderful program that gives an opportunity to shine to people with disabilities from around the world," said Burton.

Yes, we know that Obama is not a good bowler. That's the point.

Obama was attempting to use self-deprecating humor, but in the process, he insulted the accomplishments of the participants in the Special Olympics.

Bill Burton's explanation doesn't help matters. He says that Obama's "offhand" remarks meant to make fun "of his own bowling and in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics."

Then why did he say his low scoring, poor bowling performance was "like Special Olympics, or something"?

Of course that was a disparaging remark.

There's absolutely no other way to interpret it. It was a callous, insensitive thing to say. Sometimes, there's a very cruel edge to Obama's sense of humor.

Burton says that Obama didn't mean to disparage the Special Olympians, but he most certainly did. Obama owes them an apology.

This isn't the first time Obama's humor has backfired when he's been without his teleprompter and the true man, the spontaneous Obama, is revealed.

On November 7, 2008, then president-elect Obama screwed up during his first news conference by making what was later referred to as a "careless joke" at Nancy Reagan's expense. At the time, Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter called that an "offhanded remark." Apparently, that's how Obama jokes gone bad are characterized.

Obama did apologize to Mrs. Reagan. I think he would be wise to do the same to the participants in the Special Olympics. Obama should take responsibility for what he said.

Surely Burton must be aware that what he calls "offhand" remarks are no less hurtful and offensive than ones that scroll down a teleprompter.
I'm certainly not excusing Trump. Just reminding all those claiming to be horrified by Trump to also be horrified by the cruel, cold, callous Obama.

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