Friday, March 20, 2009

Obama on Leno and the Joke(s) Said in Passing

On the Tonight Show, the President made or participated in two jokes that could be controversial, depending on who you are:

1. Obama compared his lack of bowling proficiency to the Special Olympics.

2. Both Obama and Leno used a slightly obscure term "water head." Depending on the meaning of the slang phrase, the object of the punchline could be similar to the previous joke.


The anti-politically correct, previously mostly pro-Bush crowd (especially the bloggers) should appreciate the President's politically incorrect joke (but how are jokes ever nice?), as an ad-libbed sort of olive branch to their ideology. These people should never criticize the President on that point; it would be quite hypocritical to do so.

The pro-PC, generally pro-Obama crowd has every right to be disappointed in the President for the joke and little right to try to justify his joke when they will readily pounce on the offensive comments of others, especially from their ideological opponents.

It's a non-issue for everyone else, and is only an issue for me because it gives me a topic on which to write.

Let's see if Obama could have used other words to still be humorous on the bowling topic:

"It's like remedial sports or something." This still makes fun of developmentally challenged people, who have to take remedial classes.

"I have poor motor skills in bowling." It still makes makes fun of physically disadvantaged people.

"I just suck at bowling." While directly self-effacing humor might have been the way to go, the prudes of the nation would take offense to the words "suck" or its oxymoronic synonym "blow."

"I am no good at bowling. That is all, Mr. Leno." Wow, keep that up, Mr. President, and you'll be more wooden than when Al Gore was Vice President.

With humor, not only is there no way to please everybody, there's always somebody to offend. In any case, the President warned us he'd make mistakes - smaller ones like this one and larger ones every so often - so there you go.

Irony will definitely ensue when the President finds a way to fund the Special Olympics to cover his mea culpa, and many of those who previously found fault with his joke will call the Special Olympics program funding as unneeded pork, not beneficial to "average Americans."


  1. He has hurt many families in America. He needs to say he is sorry in the public, not to an organization.

    In addition, someone who claims to have experienced prejudice and stereotypes throughout life, and has written about them in great detail, should be more sensitive and refined from life's lessons.

    Furthermore, Obama claimed he was going to have the world think 'highly' of America again. Will this joke help?

    For someone who spoke of equality as a creed. Does this joke match that philosophy?

    For someone that said he would stand for all people. Does this stand up for those that participate in the special Olympics?

    The fact is Obama claimed a higher standard. To much is given, much is required.

    Obama has just showed us that 'yes we can' destroy what a campaign stands for with a single joke.

    During the campaign for the White House in 2008, the media criticized Palin for being ‘common,’ 'not-polished,' 'not-compassionate' and ‘not presidential.’ However, compare Sarah Palins attitude in this video created three weeks ago for the Special Olympics in Boise, Idaho.

    You decide the more ‘presidential’ among them. Watch:

  2. Thanks for the comment! Non-trolling, insightful comments are always welcome here, even if your post has seemingly been copied and pasted to/from other blogs and forums. :-)

    It is obvious that the President hurt many families with his words; he should take this opportunity to make it right with his actions.

    This is another opportunity to directly confront prejudices in a larger forum (like the comedy in "Tropic Thunder," for instance), rather than simply pretending no such condescending humor exists in our culture, or that such humor should remain part of the status quo.

    I'm not going to play partisan games with this issue, other than calling out both sides on their hypocrisy when handling this issue (see my original post). Thanks.



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