March 7th, 2014
08:17 AM ET
5 months ago

Obama tries to show some R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Washington (CNN) - President Obama celebrated the music that shaped "our American story" with some of the biggest female music legends Thursday night at the White House but came up a little lacking when he tried to show his R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

The White House welcomed the performances by American musical icons Aretha Franklin, Melissa Etheridge, and Patti Labelle as well as contemporary female artists Ariana Grande, Janelle Monae, and Jill Scott.


While the President was paying tribute to Aretha Franklin, he had a hard time with the spelling of a word famously spelled out in one of her best known songs.

"When Aretha first told us what R-S-P-E-C-T meant to her, she had no idea it would become a rallying cry for African Americans, and women, and then everyone who felt marginalized because of what they looked like or who they loved," Obama said to chuckles from the audience.

The spelling error did not bring down the energy of the night as Patti LaBelle kicked off the performances with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," bringing the President and First Lady to their feet.

The "Women of Soul" event was part of the "In Performance at the White House" series that has honored the likes of Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

Let's just hope that if the President ever welcomes the Village People that he practices his Y-M-C-A.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (313 Responses)
  1. Bobo

    Slow news day, eh?

    March 7, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. Utopaline

    So Bush couldn't pronounce or find on a map any of the countries he wanted to invade and he was a "great leader" but in a live event he misses a letter and it's big news? WOW. 'Merica

    March 7, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. KD

    Why is this a newsworthy story?

    March 7, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  4. mark H.

    really? Is that all you've got? Bobo's right...

    March 7, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  5. Pamela

    At least he didn't miss a letter writing it down.... or add one..... potato, potatoe, anyone?

    March 7, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. Joe S

    You mean he is human? Nice of CNN not to let something so trivial go without making it a full page editorial.

    March 7, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  7. Fair is Fair

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Fair is Fair
    People died in Benghazi, but as Hillary so elegantly lectured us, let's just get over it.
    -----–
    You must've heard that lecture in your dreams because she never said that.
    Furthermore she never even implied that.
    Sometimes, Fair, it is almost as if you just can't help yourself.
    -------–
    You know something? You've stooped to a pretty low low. Not only did you pick out fake Fair's comment, you conciously changed the lowecase 'f' in the second "fair" to an uppercase 'F' to make it look like it came from me. So here's the post you took the quote from:

    Fair is fair

    When Quayle misspelled potato-e, the media heckled him for months. Jay Leno spent President Obama's entire first term doing Bush jokes. People died in Benghazi, but as Hillary so elegantly lectured us, let's just get over it. So don't expect anyone to take any pokes at King O about his gaff.

    What compelled you to do that, I don't know... but I'm embarrassed for you.

    March 7, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  8. Jim

    Military personnel still dying everyday, healthcare tax, extends another recession, divides a country, never left his chair as he sent others in harms way to kill a terrorist who he would bow to had he met him, etc., etc., etc. Give him a break!

    March 7, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  9. IMeanReally

    How refreshing to see a blunder exposed by a liberal! However, this will probably be the end of it and it will pass into the night. As it should. But if a conservative had made the same error, we'd be hearing about it for several more days. I have no doubts about that.

    March 7, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  10. Jeff

    That's what happens when you're to busy talking ( and don't even believe your own BS) Hell, happens to all of us.

    March 7, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  11. Paul

    Raised by women, he has respect for them than you guys who think that women should be in the kitchen baking cookies, taking kids to practices while YOU MALE REPUBLICAN"TS are watching football and talking about aspirin between legs, vaginal ultrasound, and slut. Sending our troops to wrong destinations like Irak where we lost our braves is not an issue but spelling BEE 2014 is. Talking about Bengazi where Condi went to meet with gaddafi? And talking about Irak where Rumsfield enjoyed Saddam bedtime stories???

    March 7, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  12. jim

    Maybe if he'd spelled it in Austrian.

    March 7, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  13. bacon

    Does any of the vast number of hateful one liners about Obama serve a purpose beyond bitterness? a simple spelling error and OMG!!! this man is an apocalypse waiting to happen. It's the same in every politics thread and in many that are not about politics at all. Countless ineffectual and impotent slander that never seeks to persuade others to a rational point or inform or add anything constructive at all really. While the man may have his faults he seems like a much better president than the last few, and the likes of Kerry or Romney or Hillary. Too bad he can not run again.

    March 7, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  14. CGDoc

    From the same person that brought us 57 States.

    March 7, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  15. Geoffrey

    It was someone of the same race as Obama that came up with....
    "Old MacDonald had a FARM, E-I-E-I-O"
    Farm? Eieio? ehhh close enough, right ?

    March 7, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  16. CGDoc

    Of course he can't spell it, he doesn't have any or give any.

    March 7, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. chew

    The smartest man in the world.....

    March 7, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  18. ScottCa

    This happens all the time due to the shortcuts our brains circuitry uses when pronouncing words. R as in ARE ends in a silent E sound. He simply unconsciously did what our brains do all the time when speaking and merged the E into the end of R and proceeded as if it were silent.

    This is why in British English, Center is spelt Centre and so on.

    March 7, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  19. cleetus

    Remember what a big deal it was when Dan Quayle put an "e" at the end of potato. The liberals didn't think it was a "slow newsday" then!

    March 7, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  20. sandy sneden

    omg – Mr. B – cannot dis Ms. Lady Ree. Shameful :) we still love 'ya though

    March 7, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. SMac504

    Democrats can be so sensitive to their guys messing up.

    March 7, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  22. Joe Christensen

    Wow, people are so partisan and touchy. Yeah President Obama screwed up spelling and it was stupid. Yes President Obama is generally a great speaker, but he is much less so "off teleprompter" (and unscripted), as the numerous YouTube videos show. YES, Bush and everyone else have also had embarrassing moments which were mentioned in the press. Fair game folks. Laugh it off and move on, but do not drink the cool aid so much so that you the President is infallible. Sorry to tell you that we all make mistakes and look stupid from time to time.

    March 7, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  23. cjb

    Why was it a news story when Dan Quail misspelled "potato" but Obama is praised for his stupidity?

    March 7, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    He purposely spelled it that way because that is the way Aretha sang it. She said the E so fast that you could barely hear it i her song and and Obama was just trying to mimic her. I am soooooooooooooo sure he know how to spell RESPECT!

    March 7, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  25. pennie brettin

    The world is on fire with this administration and he is entertaining "The ladies of soul". We are doomed..

    March 7, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
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