Add another item to the department of “imagine if George Bush or Dick Cheney had done it.” Obama’s joke last night that his bowling skills were “like Special Olympics or something” has generated some publicity, but not much outrage.
One of the most egregious examples of burying the lead was in the New York Times story headlined, “Seeking Everyman, Obama Does Leno,” which waited until the second to last paragraph to inform us:
He had one impolitic moment when trying to make a self-deprecating joke about his bowling score of 129, saying, “That was like the Special Olympics or something.” But mostly he stayed benign and folksy even while discussing the need to undo bonuses, fix banks and regulate credit card rates.
On CNN.com, the headline was “Obama mixes politics, comedy on ‘Tonight Show,'” and it included this account:
Obama also remarked on his poor bowling skills, which were evident during a campaign stop in Pennsylvania. He told Leno that he bowled 129 in the White House bowling alley and said his bowling skills are “like Special Olympics or something.”
Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said the president’s remarks were not meant to poke fun of the Special Olympics.
“The president made an offhand remark making fun of his own bowling that was in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics,” Burton said. “He thinks that the Special Olympics are a wonderful program that gives an opportunity to shine to people with disabilities from around the world.”
These are just two examples, but the general idea is that the media takes it as a given that President Obama is a nice, earnest liberal who would never want to intentionally offend anybody, let alone those with disabilities. Yet when it comes to Republicans or conservatives, such incidents are used to demonstrate how insensitive they are. Another factor is that all of the professional outrage organizations that the media anoints as arbitors of whether or not something is offensive happen to be run by liberals. And in this case, it doesn’t hurt that the chairman of the Special Olympics is Ted Kennedy’s nephew.