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

Special Olympics asks Obama to consider hiring athlete

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. BO'sTeleprompter

    Please forgive me. The buck stops here.

    Barry's Teleprompter

    March 20, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  2. TIME

    Oh boy, here we go again. You need to grown up people. Get a life or something. We have so many people that want to God. All you see and hear are other folk’s words and not your own. By writing your hateful words on this blog it is you that need to be silence.

    It seems that all you are doing is wishing that you live to get up each day and write on this blog. Forgive me, but you are so prefect in what you do and say that God forbid that you shouldn’t make it into heaven. At least our President is human. Nor you or I will have the last say so on judgment day. Thank God.

    We have some crying and begging to see President Obama birth certificate.

    God forgive me for saying this, but I guess they will be asking for Jesus birth certificate as well.

    God forgive me for saying this, but your son, Jesus was born in a mangle.

    God forgive me for saying this, but since your son, Jesus wasn’t born in a hospital, and let us not forget that he was born in a far away country and not the United States he can’t be the choice one.

    God forgive me for saying this, and his name is Jesus Christ.

    God forgive me for saying this, what is a Jesus Christ?

    God forgive me for saying this, Jesus mother was human and you were a spirit so that would make Jesus half and half, Half human, Half Sprit.

    God forgive me for saying this, so Jesus is not one of us.

    Now I understand why I should be praying more and more each day. I give you Lord all the glory and praise that I was given another chance to wake up this morning and to get my life in order before I die; or before you return.

    Oh God! forgive me, forgive me, and forgive me.

    March 20, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  3. bill

    So many of you people posting are totally pathetic. Replace Obama with Pres. Bush or any republican and you same people defending Obama would be beating Pres. Bush/a republican over the head with mean/nasty remarks and insults. Personally from an HONEST point of view, people in this country worry and focus way to much over things people say. This fact just shows how stupid we are as a society. There isnt a single person in this world who doesnt say something stupid at some point and politicians surely are a group who stick their feet in their mouths over and over.... Obama is no exception.

    March 20, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  4. Sniffit

    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.

    March 20, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  5. Get Well Soon GOP

    Anyone notice how quite Mike Steele has been? Perhaps that whipping Rush gave him put him in his place. This is all a right wing move to make Obama look bad. Dont drink the hateraid

    March 20, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  6. curt

    He was making fun of his own bowling skills by comparing them to the special olympics, get a life people and stop being so thin skinned

    March 20, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  7. Rachel

    I don't think Obama was making fun of handicapped people. I think he was making fun of himself. Can't anyone say anything anymore as a joke without someone getting offended and seizing the opportunity to critisize that person? Good heavens everyone carries a chip on their shoulders and just waits for someone to knock it off. Grow up! I have seen people act retarded that weren't and we've joked about it. That doesn't mean we have any special group or people in mind. A joke is a joke! Nothing personal.

    March 20, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  8. Patrick - Indianapolis

    I think we have enough intellectually challenged people in Washington. We don't need to be having anymore than there already is. Let them stick to people greeting and stocking groceries. I don't care about their dignity, only their abilities.

    March 20, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  9. Michael

    It's funny reading the comments from Democrats (The Champions of Political Correctness) trying to defend Obama's statements. I would expect this comment from Candidate or Senator Obama not President Obama.

    March 20, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  10. MikeNJ

    I'm not sure was he speaking about his bowling skills or his Presidential skills..... they both seem to be about the same....

    March 20, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  11. Kathy M.

    Someone needs to clue him in that he won the presidency and then he can stick to the real business of being president.

    March 20, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  12. theot

    I saw Jay Leno last night and unless you were listening for an offense, there was none. He clearly explained the mess we are and show himself to be quite engaged. While his comment was unfortunate, it was not the comment we should be talking about. The recession in turning into a depression and no one person in America or the world has the answer. That is far more troubling. The comment we should be talking about is that his treasury secretary has a full plate. That is far more troubling and we should be pressure him to fill get his team together. I was glad that he is laughing because I know he is not sleeping well.

    I have time to write this because I am laid off my job.

    March 20, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  13. Kevin

    People are trying too hard to make him look bad. Every time he does anything at all, he is criticized.

    Hatred is rampant in the Republican Party.

    March 20, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  14. Matt

    And the world ends cause he says things that many normal Americans themselves would say off camera. Deal with it

    March 20, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  15. Scarlett

    Get a grip people... we are driving the political correctness into the ground. I would say that on any given day and time there is someone saying something that will offend someone. He was not making fun of the Special Olympics or those that participate rather he was making fun of himself.

    March 20, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  16. kabookey

    I 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.

    March 20, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  17. Buddy

    Biden got that job.

    March 20, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  18. joemmma

    All I have to say is. What if this was Bush's comment....? and why hire one of there people when we have plenty already in congress!

    March 20, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  19. Dallas

    Are we becoming a "Nation of Whinners"????

    March 20, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  20. Pegasus

    This is ridiculous! Now the chairman of the Special Olympics wants President Obama to hire a mentally or physically challenged person to work in the White House. Why? Because of the comment made? The chairman is just as mentally challenged as his organization.

    March 20, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  21. Lisa B

    Another point many are missing is that we went for eight + years without an apology for any of a number of horrible gaffes and mistakes due to unprecedented arrogance and hubris. We should appreciate the humanity and humility of a man who takes action but makes mistakes, acknowledges them and is able to make a sincere apology when appropriate and move on. It is refreshing. There are WAY too many people in this world right now who are incapable of admitting when they're wrong and apologizing. Such humility and accountibility is not a character flaw, but something to be admired and appreciated. Did anyone really expect him to be perfect, and if so, why? He promised bold action, that is what the voters voted for and that is what he is delivering. Now take a deep breath and have some patience.

    March 20, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  22. ot boston

    The point he was trying to make is that he is lousy when it comes to bowling. Special olympics is a different league and the participants ability is limited compared to regular olympics. All these people blowing his comments out of propotion, are infact expressing the physically challenged special olympics athletes.

    March 20, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  23. Fran

    He made a mistake, he is human you know. Is there anyone out there who is so perfect that they never say or do anything wrong ? Give the man a break and stop waiting for him to make a mistake.

    March 20, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  24. Informed

    When we belittle ourselves or someone else we sometimes reap serious consequences. President Obama's comments came as he was trying to explain/describe his limitations. We all have limitations. The president is no different. How he explained his limitations came under fire from those who should be very careful. We all have disabilities, some of us are just more up front about ours. Example: I want to learn Spanish, but if you put me in a situation in this country where I'd have to speak spanish to communicate with someone I'd be incapacitated. That's the message Mr. Shriver doesn't get. I do respect Mr. Shriver's work.

    March 20, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  25. Demfounded

    Oh how things would play out here and on other liberal sites if Bush had said this . . .

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