Sunday, March 22, 2009

Slip of the tongue or revelation into Obama's mind?

I guess this story has been big news, but I just learned about it from a print copy of the Globe and Mail. There was a line break after the seventh word in the article:
Perhaps U.S. President Barack Obama should retire...
That had me really excited (as I thought maybe people are reading Thomas Sowell).
...his bowling shoes.

First, he was caught on tape throwing nothing but gutter balls on the presidential campaign trail. Now, he's lobbed a verbal gutter ball equating his poor performance in the White House bowling alley with that of a Special Olympian.

After a difficult week in Washington as tension rose over AIG bonuses, Mr. Obama attempted to yuk it up with comedian Jay Leno on The Tonight Show on Thursday, but ended up insulting mentally disabled people and causing quite an uproar.

The President told the late night talk show host that he'd been practising rolling the ball down the White House bowling alley, but wasn't too thrilled with his score of 129. Then he said: "It was like the Special Olympics, or something."

As much as Obama must take responsibility for his sense of humour, what are his handlers thinking putting him on a late-night comedy show, the first sitting President ever to go on such a show? Don't the handlers know that comedy requires a common set of values that allow you to laugh at a common understanding that is revealed as odd or paradoxical, and/or to laugh at a shared scapegoat? And don't they know that in the normal world the President must preserve his transcendence, his political capital, by always being careful to act as if he represents all Americans (and so humour in public is always a huge risk and rarely done)?

And in the PC world, the culture fundamental to the Democratic Party, you're not supposed to laugh either at the common understandings of the party line, or at a victim figure, unless the target is some duly-sanctioned "reactionary" like say Sarah Palin. In other words, even though it's not funny to laugh at the disabled, the mere assertion by Obama and those in the audience who laughed with him that "we" share a common understanding, any common understanding, let alone about watching the Special Olympics, is antithetical to all the moral and cultural relativism that the postmodern Democratic Party stands for. How dare "we" be invited to laugh when we are officially humourless except when a Christian redneck is in the room!?

Didn't the handlers see the risk that Obama, needing to crack a joke, might crack a joke of the kind that left-liberals and Democrats can only crack in the confidence of close friends, those to whom you can reveal what "we", in our gated communities and private schools, really think about the other within?
Making his way back on Air Force One to Washington from Burbank, Calif., Mr. Obama called the chairman of the Special Olympics to apologize.

"He said that he did not intend to humiliate Special Olympics athletes or people with intellectual disabilities. He was sincere and heartfelt," Timothy Shriver said in statement yesterday.

Still, Mr. Shriver described it as a teachable moment. "Words hurt and words matter," he said. "And using Special Olympics in a negative or derogatory context can be a humiliating put-down to people with special needs."

Mr. Shriver is the son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who founded the Special Olympics, a global non-profit organization serving 200 million people with intellectual disabilities. He is also the nephew of Senator Edward Kennedy, who was among the early Democrats to endorse Mr. Obama's candidacy.
In the old days when a would-be leader was in trouble, he might try to take a time out, to gather his mind in quiet, to avoid the media. That Obama's handlers feel he must be constantly "out there", selling himself as "The One", constantly campaigning, is a sad sign of how little control they feel they have over the situation they are in. They are squandering their bank of Obama-is-sacred/transcendent credit, not unlike how they are squandering America's credit. Slip of the tongue lands Obama in gutter. Note also the headline: would a Republican making this joke be granted a "slip of the tongue" by an MSM organ? It's unlikely, which is just why Obama probably can't really be forgiven by his own crowd for drawing attention to their own hypocrisy. Thus the Globe and Mail reporter, in a piece that is ostensibly strictly reporting, has to start her piece with some prescriptive humour: "Perhaps U.S. President Barack Obama should retire..."
What comes before reporting is protecting the party line. However, fool that I am, at first I read it straight.

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