Saturday, March 21, 2009

Obama bowling alone

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For the first time ever, I find myself supporting Barack Obama.

Temporarily, you understand. I still think he is a soft-focus Lenin who will turn the country into a debtor's prison if he isn't stopped. But I can be fair. For five minutes, I'll defend him against enemies domestic and foreign, because of his alleged "gaffe" on that late night TV show. Namely, this:

President Obama, in his taping with Jay Leno Thursday afternoon, attempted to yuk it up with the funnyman, and ended up insulting the disabled. Towards the end of his approximately 40-minute appearance, the president talked about how he's gotten better at bowling and has been practicing in the White House bowling alley.

He bowled a 129, the president said.

"That's very good, Mr. President," Leno said sarcastically.

It's "like the Special Olympics or something," the president said.

Okay, not the soul of wit, but a mild little jest that deserved an appreciative chuckle. At the least, Obama earned an I'm-a-Real-Person lapel pin for showing that he is actually capable of devising an un-teleprompted one-liner that didn't come from his Little Red Book of Meaningless Sayings of Chairman Barack.

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When I watched the tape excerpt of that moment, Obama reminded me of a human being instead of the Disneyland audio-animatronic simulacrum of Abraham Lincoln, programmed to repeat the same lines as each new mob marches in and takes their seats for a brief encounter with synthetic inspiration.

Of course, the Offended of the Earth gave him a piece of their mindlessness straight off. Oh my God, he's making fun of the handicapped! You can't say that! Send him to sensitivity training camp!


Even Republicans and other pseudo-conservatives who should have known better rushed (Rushed?) to bash him, just so they could pile on. If we still had free speech, they would have been better advised to note that any offendee group that can invent a prissy name like "Special Olympics" deserves to be made fun of every hour on the hour.

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Poetic justice of a sort, I call it. The Great Divider whose main interest in life is to pander to every ethnic and racial grievance outfit gets whiplash from Indignation Nation.

So, Barack, I'm in your corner. For five minutes. Then I go back to being offended every time you open your mouth.

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3/23 The last sentence must sound inconsistent with my stand against those who claim to be offended, believing that to be the trump card that overcomes all arguments (see my reply to Stephen Lawrence in the comments). I was trying to be ironic in my use of the word, but it's perhaps not very clear.

So if I could strike that sentence, I would. Well, actually, I can. With one keystroke I can make it disappear! What power!

Not even the judge in a trial really has that ability. A witness testifies, "I was told the defendant is an arsonist who collects Nazi souvenirs, cuts in line, and steals money from the church poor box," the lawyer says, "Objection! Hearsay,"and the judge says, "Sustained. The answer will be stricken from the record and the jury will disregard." Oh yeah?

Yet I can make ill-chosen words go away and in a matter of days, if not minutes, no one will ever know or remember! But it is bad form to change anything substantive in a posting once people have commented on it, so I won't. And now, besides one regrettable sentence, you have in addition a whole tiresome long-winded explanation.

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9 comments:

Lawrence Auster said...

I saw one liberal columnist go on and on about this as though it were a matter of grave concern, to be treated with the utmost seriousness.

Dennis Mangan said...

any offendee group that can invent a prissy name like "Special Olympics" deserves to be made fun of every hour on the hour.

Great line.

Stephen Lawrence said...

As the father of a disabled son, watching him struggle to speak correctly because of an auditory processing problem, who runs and walks so guardedly, is afraid of the unknown and still talks to imaginary people on the phone, I am appalled by the comment of that man. You do not understand hurt and pain until you realize that your child will never be able to take care of himself totally. Gentlemen, sorry for the rant, but that comment is less than high schoolish as I have never witnessed anyone ridiculing my son in his age group, shouldn't we expect more from POTUS?

Terry Morris said...

Reminds me of the time I and a fellow airman were pulling dorm guard duty for a female flight when I was in AF basic training. Apparently one of the male TIs (technical instructors) had referred to this group, during one or more of their marching sessions, as "Jerry's Kids," due to their marching disabilities, which apparently didn't sit too well with several of the girls in the flight.

At some point they decided to go over everyone's head and take the issue directly to the commander of the unit. Luckily I was there when the TI in question gathered them all up and proceeded to rip their heads off. The tear-filled appeals of these emotional basketcases was something to behold, lemme tell ya. Especially when the instructor informed them that he would be leaving the flight of his own volition, but that he'd found a proper and willing replacement tailor-made to fill their special needs. LOL

Rick Darby said...

Thank you all for commenting.

Stephen,

You and your son deserve our sympathy and a just portion of society's available resources to ameliorate his condition.

Nevertheless, I cannot accept your attitude that any humor that remotely touches on disability is out of bounds. Obama was not making fun of your son. He was telling a joke on himself.

Aside from that, the constant drumbeat of "That isn't funny!" and "I'm offended!" has made us into a society of self-censoring, pursed-mouth prigs.

In face-to-face interaction, it is bad taste or an act of aggression to joke about someone's disability or misfortune. But in the abstract, any subject should be fair game for humor. Humor helps remove some of the pain of the human condition.

Stephen Lawrence said...

Rick,
I try and try to look at the other side on this issue and perhaps being so closely and emotionally involved prevents me from having any objectivity. I am not thin skinned by any means, I have spent 50+ years on this planet and have given way more than received (according to my calculations, which would probably be disputed by assorted college buddies, roommates, drinking pals, etc), and I agree that political correctness has gotten out of control with not being allowed to joke about many things, but there is still something that does not sit well when ridicule is made at the expense of those less fortunate intellectually and cannot defend themselves.... I guess I was the one defending the slower students from the verbal bullies in high school. Anyway, he does just great, has a very supportive family and older brothers who realize that they get the ball when mom and dad pass (along with a substantial trust fund from my work), society and public schools, well, I am sure you know where that is going....
Stephen

Rick Darby said...

Stephen,

I understand why you feel as you do, and maybe in your situation I'd be saying the same thing.

But ... all of us are handicapped in some way, inadequate where others excel, vulnerable in certain areas, struggle against weaknesses or illnesses. In many cases it's less obvious than Down's Syndrome, but can still hurt when one's problems are someone else's joke.

But if you eliminate everything that might offend someone, and if practically every constituency is out of bounds, what is left of humor? (An English columnist recently wrote, "The only people you can joke about now are white males.") Do you really want to live in a society of Laugh Police?

Stephen Lawrence said...

Rick,
I left a comment earlier which did not appear; oh well, it was great! Did you hear about the new breakfast at Denny's? It is called the "octoslam", 14 eggs, no sausage, and the guy sitting next to you gets to pay... peace, bro, I am beginning to see your point but not from POTUS and absolutely love reading your blog.. if you are ever in North East Pa look me up, drstevel@msn.com or Stephen m Lawrence DMD. You and your "ilk" keep me sane in these darkest of times

Ilíon said...

As the son of a crippled woman, I take great offence at the preciousness of the never-ending and constantly escalating pretense that the disabled are not disabled.