I realized that I have two hours of material which I will attempt to blurt out in two minutes.
1. Yes, Obama's "joke" was offensive. As Joe Torre said a million times, players can't control the outcome, but they can control their effort. We respect Special Olympians because they make the effort, working as hard as they can to achieve their best. Does anybody think that the obviously athletic (and proud of it) Barack has really committed himself to mastering bowling and is maxed out with a score of 129? If not, then watching him bowl would be nothing like watching the Special Olympics - it would be like watching a dilletante embarrass himself and annoy us. Or like watching me try to spell "dilettante".
[Just warming up, but gotta go...
Still to come - Jake Tapper and the Republican view of PC humor; Jeff Goldstein and the Captain on same.]
READY TO RUMBLE!
Preparing for day of hypocrisy: conservs who would normally defend the SpecOlymp joke acting offended, liberals saying lighten up. Sigh
Exit question: One of Jeff Goldstein’s points in his debate with Patterico over Rush Limbaugh is that it’s a grave mistake for conservatives to play by the left’s rhetorical rules. Isn’t that what we’re doing by beating up on The One for a very mildly politically incorrect joke, though?
Inshallah. I will not spoil the suspense by seeing whether Jeff G has responded. Instead, I will tell you how I interpet his past arguments. IMHO his basic theme is that the left has established themselves as the arbiter of language by declaring that racism, for example, is determined by the feelings and reaction of the listener rather than the actual words of the speaker. Thus, when Barack makes a joke about the disabled it is not (in Left-world) a big deal because they all know his heart is in the right place. However, if a hate-filled Republican says the same thing, then Open the Gates of Hell!
Jeff G's view (as I grasp it, and that is the only thing Jeff has that I am willing to grasp just now. Or ever.) is that words have meaning - if Obama's words were offensive, they were offensive regardless of how inclined people may be to project noble intent on to him.
That is much different from saying that conservatives routinely defend non-PC speech. Republicans ought to defend themselves from phony, politically opportunistic outrage, but that does not mean that we have no sense of manners and recognize no lines that should not be crossed.
That is hardly a subtle distinction, yet look at how that difference gets glossed in this coverage of recent comments by Clint Eastwood on PC humor (my emphasis):
Clint Eastwood goes gunning for PC killjoys by saying we should laugh at race-based jokes
He says the world would be a better place if we could still laugh at inoffensive jokes about different races.
"Inoffensive"! There are plenty of jokes about blacks, or Poles, or the Irish, that I don't think a reasonable person would consider to be offensive, and plenty more that are way over any reasonable line. Eastwood's utterly defensible point is that our ability to make distinctions has been lost by the right of any person anywhere to announce that their having taken offense defines the crime.
Or for another example, recall Rush Limbaugh's crucifixion for pointing out that Donovan McNabb was carried by the press because he was black. Was that a serious attempt to discuss the issues or political opportunism? Tough call.
So. Obama's comment was ignorant and projected an unfortunate and inaccurate image of Special Olympians as lacking skill, determination and the ability to master a task. There is nothing to defend and no reason to defend it, and he is not attempting to do so.
If Obama lacks for offensive comic material, here is a suggestion - "Watching me try to bowl is like watching Michelle try to balance the checkbook." Har de har - don't attempt that at home, Big Fella.
If Obama had wanted to try for self-deprecation, he could have gone with "Watching me try to bowl is like watching me try to balance the budget... making progress!" Or maybe, "Watching me try to bowl is like watching me, umm, try to talk without, uhh, my teleprompter." Obama's fans would have been mystified but I know plenty of folks who would have laughed.
Over to Jeff.
LAST CALL: Let me add that words have their meaning but speakers have their history. If a chap with a deplorable history of racist remarks makes a comment that falls in a gray area, he will be judged differently from a fellow with an otherwise stellar past. Obama's past is irrelevant here since his words don't come anywhere near a gray zone. And clearly, history is subject to manipulation - many people "know" Rush is a racist because of his McNabb comments, and judge his other words accordingly.
YOU KNEW I WASN'T DONE: If you have a joke that absolutely requires a dummy but you aren't comfortable with Micks or Polacks, go with some self-selected and racially/religiously/sexually indeterminate group. I lean towards "How many Red Sox fans does it take to change a lightbulb...".
BEATS ME. Ok, how many Red Sox fans does it take to change a light bulb? I have no idea - my free agent comedian hasn't delivered the punchline yet.
DEVELOPING: How many Red Sox fans to change a lightbulb? None, they have yet to see the light.
Or, That depends on many lightbulbs are down in the cellar.
We're having fun now.
LATE BREAKING: Imus - Fire Barack.
I NEED SOME WATER: Right after the Special Olympics joke Jay Leno and Barack Obama yucked it up about Obama's new dog, with Leno wondering if it was a "portugese waterhead" and Obama joining in. Turns out that "waterhead" is urban slang for a person with Down's syndrome. Roll the tape.
Obama got big props for his cool during the campaign. How is he going to brush this dirt off his shoulder?
HOW SOON WE FORGET: No real need to imagine the reaction if Bush had said this - in the summer of 2004, disgusting anti-war flyers were made up with a Special Olympian and a caption of "Starting a war in Iraq is like running in the Special Olympics - Even if you win, you're still retarded."
In October 2004 that poster was photo-shopped with a picture of Bush's head superimposed over the Special Olympian and given a new caption - "Voting for Bush is like running in the Special Olympics - Even if you win, you're still retarded".
The posters were found at the campaign headquarters of a local Dem candidate. Their "defense" - it was a dirty trick by Evil Republicans.
So I guess it was considered offensive enough to blame Bush back in 2004. Well, then, they should blame Bush now! If he hadn't left Obama so many problems the poor guy could get some rest and concentrate when he spoke.