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. Sniffit

    @ Sniffit, who said "Of course if Bush had said something like this, all you people defending Obama and saying it was no big deal, would have scolded Bush for saying it. Such a double standard with Democrats."

    Since that wasn't really me, I feel obligated to point out that the reason Bush would have been scolded is because he blew his political capital and had the entire country angry with him for a multitude of horrifying things he said and did...so our fuse was short and we'd run out of forgiveness for him. The only people who have no forgiveness for Obama at this point are GOPers and neocons who were never ever going to give him a chance or have an open mind in the first place. People LOVE Obama. Live with it.

    March 20, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  2. Glenn

    Just another ignorant comment that shows how unpresidential he is. People were warned about this guy, now your going to get what you asked for.

    March 20, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  3. George Carlins got to be laughing

    Get real folks,if this is all you have to be upset about,you dont have a clue.

    March 20, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  4. gandoman - SF, CA

    Gee Whiz......the President made an OFF-THE-CUFF remark for maybe the first time in 2 years that doesn't sit well with the "MENTALLY CHALLENGED."

    By "MENTALLY CHALLENGED" I am referring to the entire Republican Party!

    Oh, I forgot; the Republican Nazi Party doesn't sit well with anything good & positive that comes from the President.....so why should something negative cause them to make comment.

    Oh, I forgot; the Republican Rich Man's Party should be competing in a SPECIAL OLYMPICS with medals going to the best.....
    1. SPEECH on how to screw the average American by blaming it on the Democrats.
    2. INCISIVE IDEA on how to pretend that the economy was not the fault of George '3 below plant life' Bush and the Republican Party.
    3. HARANGUE & WHINE on why am I not in power anymore.

    Republicans are like OVERPAID PRIMA DONNA ATHLETES.....
    Once they get elected or sign a contract, they NO longer have to perform for the public!

    March 20, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  5. John M in CA

    I LOVE how how spiteful and pissed you Republicans get about everything now. HA!!

    Get used to it. You have eight more years of Barack. Yes, eight.

    Now you know how we felt, especially after the '04 election.

    March 20, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  6. Jess48or9

    And so just what did the President say? Anyone else you would have included that in the story.

    March 20, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  7. rob

    I think that he should be ashamed, as ashamed as the people who sell things to kids that reek havoc on our schools. I call on every reading this to shut down the people selling stink bombs at http://www.dirtyrottenpranks.com they are low lifes.

    March 20, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  8. walker

    Obama just needs to stop with the "Most Popular Guy in School" crap and deal with the real issues.

    March 20, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  9. Justin

    If this is offensive then pull the plug on ALL t.v. shows, over the air and cable. All of them have some reference to someone being stupid, retard, moron, imbecile, etc. We have some of the most ignorant flare ups over minor things when much more important issues are happening... More people are murdered in a month in the United States than died in Iraq all of last year.

    March 20, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  10. rr

    remember not so long ago that Saint O was calling for the outser of Don Imus for making a joke. What goes around comes around Saint O and your 15 mins is long past its expiration date. Keep up the good work there Saint O.

    i feelsorry for u if u don't know the difference between what obama said and Don Imus. i think obama can fix the education system so people like you can learn more

    March 20, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  11. jackie of louisville

    WOW!!!! This man can not get a break for nothing, Mr.Shiver are you serious, I mean he meant no harm about this, why don't you go an talk to your Mother about this. We have much more in the world to worry about than President Obama saying that what he said regarding the Special Olympics. You need to grow up hiring someone with Special needs does not solve anything so why try to guilt him into that. President Obama did a wonderful job on Jay Leno last night. He has a sense of humor, and he tried to explain to the American people exactly what they need to hear. And I promise you we never seen that from a President before. Why don't you all stop trying to find something wrong with the President and focusing on the good things that he is doing. Just stop!!!!

    March 20, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  12. Fred Cpt

    Do you see that a Navy sub and another Navy ship hit each other hostile waters?

    The Navy is so incompetent since Obama took over. What kind of morons do we have in the Navy now?

    March 20, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  13. Mike

    If Bush had said it, I'd have agreed with him. That's the only sort of olympics he would be able to qualify for.

    March 20, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  14. Stop giving this guy a free ride!

    I love people who write in saying " I have a handicapped nephew, son, sisiter, whatever..." and they were not offended. Well I have a black friend who says he is not offended by the 'N" word. Does that make it right to say it. Absolutely not! This only goes to prove why a sitting president should sit in the Oval office rather than on some TV talk show.

    March 20, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  15. concerned

    Obama is making himself look bad. He is the President of the United States of America, not an actor on the latest blockbuster movie. He needs to act like the President and not put himself in this type of position. Message to Obama: Earn my respect Mr. Obama by being someone that people can look up to. Stop worrying so much about being cool and put more focus on helping to run this country.

    March 20, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  16. turn TEXAS BLUE

    "penny" you need to calm down!! for real it is no hat serious!!! FOR REAL! dont get your panties all in a KNOT!!!!!

    March 20, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  17. johnnymo

    I watched the show, thought he was funny, and had a lot of encouraging things to say about our future. I haven't worked in 6 mos., and am confident I'll go back soon. I didn't notice the comment, don't know what he said. But, as usual, I'm sure it was overblown and taken out of context.

    March 20, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  18. Maurice from Ontario

    I truly believe that President Obama did not mean any disrespect to Special Olympians in general or to athletes with developmental challenges in particular. Furthermore, I believe that President Obama is truly sensitized to the needs of that particular segment of the population.

    Having said that, I would concur with Tim Shriver that this is an opportunity to make huge strides in integrating that population into the mainstream of society. I would certainly support the idea brought forth by Tim Shriver that the White House could hire a special athlete. Besides inviting special olympians to play basketball or to bowl within the White House premises, a statement like hiring goes far beyond the individual one-day experience of welcoming.

    Such a gesture would also be a powerful challenge and invitation to other government offices, other corporate offices, other companies, other employers to consider they too might be able to make a difference in very concrete ways.

    March 20, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  19. yolanda

    He made s joke about his abilities as a bowler. He did not intentionally malign Special Olympic. Those people who HATE PRESIDENT OBAMA will always find something to nit pick about. If it isn't about what he did it would be about what he didn't do. He can't please everybody. So I say the heck with them and keep on moving.

    March 20, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  20. Greg

    If Leno had said that it would have been fine. What a double standard. We have taken political correctness to its logical conclusion – stupidity! Don't say anything 'offensive' about anyone – even yourself – or you might hurt some over-sensitive peron's feeling.

    March 20, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  21. SLP

    Honestly, what is he doing that is remotely good? Please tell me so I can understand this intense infatuation that you people have with this man. His comment last night was inexcusable. He is the President and he represents all of the people of this country. This isn't the first time that this president has stuck his foot in his mouth. What comes out of your mouth usually reflects what is inside. I am really trying to support him even though I didn't vote for him. It gets harder by the day.

    March 20, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  22. regular guy

    I love our president, but he needs to be a little more careful. This stuff is starting to pile up. We all think different thoughts and say different things to different audiences, some of them inappropriate, yet funny.

    As president, however, he needs to run these things through the "ouch" test... I heard his live reference to Nancy Reagan and said "ouch"... I heard this gaffe and said the same thing. He is too smart and savvy, with too much on his plate to keep stepping into these little piles of crap when they are easily avoided. This is not about political correctness; it's about being presidential.

    Too many apologies end up losing their meaning; he has been apologizing for some stuff that is great in regard to taking responsibility. Apologizing for stupid, easily avoided stuff is a waste of everyone's time.

    March 20, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  23. Don

    For a grown adult to say that is reprehensible. It boogles the mind that a sitting President would jokingly say this. Obama is an arrogant jerk!

    March 20, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  24. Jean

    Obama has gotten money from AIG (think he should give it back with 90% taxation on it?), Obama administration forced Democrats to push the "bailout" through with loopholes intact,he makes rude remarks about others and everyone is defending him?

    Please wake-up b4 it's too late Obama is a politician. And we all know what they are...

    March 20, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  25. jim

    oh boy if sarah had said that you left wing political correct people would be all over her like stink on a skunk poor boy didn;t have his prompter to keep him out of trouble

    March 20, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
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