Much of the talk about Obama's appearance on The Tonight Show last night is centered on his comment regarding his bowling skills.
The comment came midway through Obama's appearance on the late night comedy show, when host Jay Leno quipped about the president's lack of bowling skills: “I imagine the bowling alley [in the White House] has just been just burned and closed down," Leno said.
“No, no. I have been practicing,” Obama said. “I bowled a 129. It's like — it was like Special Olympics, or something."
Now, I do believe that words are powerful especially when they are coming from someone like the President of the United States. He should apologize for the remark as he did. He should not make comments like this in the future. However...
When are we going to admit that people make jokes like this all of the time? When are going to admit that jokes like this are not always bad? That humor is a vital part of the human condition and helps us grapple with complex issues? I have a black co-worker that I routinely make jokes with about his skin color. He laughs just as hard as I do and jokes about it as well. Should I not do that?
I suppose the difference, though, is that in my case it is on a personal, one-to-one level. My co-worker knows that I don't care what color his skin is and I do not in any way judge him or disparage him for it. When the President or anyone else makes a joke like this in a public forum, not everyone knows that he doesn't actually think less of disabled people. In short, jokes or comments like this are probably fine in a small group when everyone knows everyone and is comfortable with them and not in a public, impersonal setting.
I do hope that we don't hear any more about this after today. Any Republican thinking that they can spin this into any sort of meaningful or effective attack against Obama is going to be sorely mistaken.
I should also take this opportunity to link to a favorite article of mine.
UPDATE: As Joe Klein writes: "Yes, he should apologize, as he has. But we shouldn't belabor this. I'd much rather see Presidents caught in the act of being human than in the promulgation of egomaniacal excess."