March 20th, 2009
02:08 PM ET
5 years ago

Special Olympics asks Obama to consider hiring athlete

Timothy Shriver is chairman of the Special Olympics.
Timothy Shriver is chairman of the Special Olympics.

(CNN) - The Special Olympics organization is calling on President Obama to "consider" hiring one of their athletes to work in the White House, following the president's reference to the organization during his Thursday night appearance on The Tonight Show.

“In so doing, he could help end misperceptions about the talents and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities, and demonstrate their dignity and value to the world," Timothy Shriver, the chairman of the Special Olympics, said in a statement released Friday morning.

iReport: What do you think about the president's comments?

Shriver also said the president was heartfelt in his apology, but added "words hurt and words matter."

"Words can cause pain and result in stereotypes that are unfair and damaging to people with intellectual disabilities,” Shriver said in the statement. “And using "Special Olympics" in a negative or derogatory context can be a humiliating put-down to people with special needs.”

Earlier: Obama apologizes for Special Olympics comment

Full Statement [PDF]


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (274 Responses)
  1. Michelle

    Their making a lot of stink of a litte of nothing. His comments show that he is real people. No one gets so offended when Larry the Cable Guy makes comments about "retards". They find it funny. Even if you work in the field you still make comments every now and then when talking outside of work.

    Find something else to complain about.

    March 20, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  2. Darwin

    If he can call Bill Clinton racist then he needs to pay for this.

    March 20, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  3. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    Gosh ! if its not POTUS, its gotta be FLOTUS. I can see why they have a lot in common. Keep it coming. Go ahead and disable it.

    March 20, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  4. Dan, TX

    Obama was insensitive. Yeah I can see that point of view. What does that make Rush Limbaugh and Laura what's-her-face and all the other "conservative" talk show hosts??? They spew things incredibly more insensitive and where's CNN calling them gaffes?

    March 20, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  5. Reggie A

    I really expected a little more from CNN you're starting to sound like MNBC or FOX move on.

    March 20, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  6. Joe

    Obama is an elitist snob!

    March 20, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  7. Bryan

    The reason people are so sensitive about this is because whenever anyone disagrees with Obama on anything, they call them a racist. And now Obama supporters are saying that this is no big deal and people are taking this out of context. Welcome to the world of people who don't support Obama!

    March 20, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  8. Belle2

    Obama fans excuse and Bush fans rant. This is just one more example of Obama's arrogance (Bush was just as arrogant). Of course, Obama's constant mantra about being able to multitask while the economy continues to slide downhill shows all the arrogance I need to see. Everyone who was in touch with reality knew Obama was arrogant before he was elected. This is not news and should be overlooked by the media as they change their focus to the important issues of the day-like the economy. All you Obama fans should take note that Hillary gets the job done while Obama continues to campaign. That is Hillary is a worker; Obama is a BSer (who needs a teleprompter to stay out of trouble).

    PS: Physically handicapped people are not necessarily mentally deficient. Hiring a physically handicapped person might educate some of the ignorant people who don't seem to understand that.

    March 20, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  9. Matthew, Detroit

    Michelle,

    Good job you compared barack to Larry the Cable guy.

    Very appropriate.

    March 20, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  10. Concerned Citizen

    Some Republicans should really examine their unnecessary drama. President Obama meant no harm, and perhaps he could hire an athlete to demonstrate abilities to rise above challenges. The Special Olympics is a great organization, which I support whenever possible.

    March 20, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  11. Donkey Show

    Oh come on now, we already had a retard in the WH for the past 8 years.

    March 20, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  12. anonymous

    BO is already working with a Special Olympian. That would be Pelosi.

    March 20, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  13. Kimberly in Arizona

    UNREAL! I hope Obama tells them this is NOT a time to play community leader. He is THE PRESIDENT and has NO time to deal with these people acting like they were offended. Its crap! I am a democrat, but give me a break! Bush was as close to the special olympics we need in the white house. Please Obama just let this go, and stop apologizing, the more you do the more these people will act like you owe them something. THAT is the problem with saying sorry in this country, its always being attached with conditions of acceptance. Ignorant!!!!

    March 20, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  14. RO

    Come on, folks...he didn't mean to hurt feelings.. IF you feel so strongly about this, maybe I ought to ask for apologies from all who have cracked deaf jokes. I do not take it personally! At least he apologized BEFORE the show...move on!

    March 20, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    How about Sarah Palin?

    March 20, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  16. Obamafan

    I have to admit I did cringe when he said it...it was inappropriate, but we all make mistakes.

    March 20, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  17. Barbara

    Please, President Obama was making fun and laughing at himself for his bowling score, and of course, the media would take it out of context. With all the problems this country is facing and the President is attempting to keep main street America informed and articulating the issues so that we can understanding, and the only thing the media can write and talk about is what the media has called a "gaffe." The interview was wonderful and it was just a joy to see our President relaxed, educating us, and enjoying the moment. Just get over this and let's move on because frankly, dear media, you are losing this battle. I'm disappointed in Shriver, that after the President apologized, that he would try to use the moment as an opportunity for himself. Shriver should be ashame of himself.

    March 20, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  18. republicans hate america

    humor is dead in this country

    March 20, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  19. Matthew, Detroit

    I love it all you liberals are the PC police and dont want to offend

    anyone, but poor little barack getting raked over the coals, "oh we just

    cant have that"

    Love the hypocrisy.

    March 20, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  20. Truman

    "Get a grip", "Most Americans say the same thing"....it's really funny how people make excuses and try to rationalize things when they LIKE the president. When they DON'T LIKE the president they chastize him for every blunder that comes out of his mouth. Love Obama? Fine, but when he makes a mistake, he makes a mistake. Referring to the Special Olympics in a negative context is a mistake, and as president he should apologize, and he did...case closed.

    March 20, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  21. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    I'm waiting to see the right wingers jump on Obama for this – like they give a hoot about the Special Olympics. On three separate occasions attempts were made to declare National Special Olympics days, and they were blocked by the GOP. So, if you avowed right wingnuts attempt to jump on this, you should be ashamed of yourselves!!!

    March 20, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  22. KLK

    All those blowing this out of proportion are retarded.

    March 20, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  23. dave

    The Special Olympics are for people who are differently abled. The Olympics they participate in are special, and therefore different than the non-special Olympics. It's own name signals discrimination of it's particcipants into a special category. If I interacted with a participant of the Special Olympics and did not recognize they were differently abled and expected the same of them as I would a non-Special Olympics participant it would be wrong and humiliating for both of us.

    Yet if I utter these truths aloud, I am a bad person. Oh well. Sorry, but the emperor is naked on this one.

    March 20, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  24. s

    everyone says things that aren't always the most appropriate thing to say. no one is considerate of every person in the world's feelings at all times. i would prefer the president be a real person and show his real personality (as offensive to some as that may be) then to hide it. everyone is going to say something that offends some sect of the population on a daily basis. people need to stop looking for things to get offended over and lighten up. if you have confidence in yourself, you dont get offended over another's innocent comment. maybe we focus on building individuals' confidence instead of censoring the whole world's speech.

    March 20, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  25. joemmma

    Michelle March 20th, 2009 12:13 pm ET

    Their making a lot of stink of a litte of nothing. His comments show that he is real people. No one gets so offended when Larry the Cable Guy makes comments about "retards". They find it funny. Even if you work in the field you still make comments every now and then when talking outside of work.

    Find something else to complain about.

    This is the guy who is supposed to representing all americans. If he wanted to do comedy he should have called the blue collar comedy guys.

    March 20, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
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