Last night, on Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show,” President Obama said something stupid. From the New York Times transcript:
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.
Oy. I believe the technical term here is “face palm.”
President Obama has already apologized for the remark. And ultimately, such stupid offhand remarks are good for the disabled community, since they’ll get tons of press out of it, some extra attention from the White House, etc.
And I’m sure today the story will compete the the economy and AIG and Afghanistan for headline space. Let me reiterate — it was a stupid, stupid thing to say. (Not least because Special Olympians can often bowl way better than that.)
I’m going to try to remember today, when the Republicans are attacking the President’s cruel insensitivity, that the Democrats would do the same thing if W. or Cheney had made such a remark.
But the two questions I have are: Would W. or Cheney have apologized so quickly? And how many of the pols and partisans who attack Obama about this would have made the same joke themselves, in private?
I don’t mean to excuse the President’s joke. It was — however unintentionally — mean-spirited and wrong-headed. Which makes it harder to admit that, yeah, I’d make that joke too.
Worth noting: The line got a laugh.