Not only did he upset millions of Americans with his Special Olympics gaffe, he pissed off the Governator's wife!
Tim Shriver, Chairman of The Special Olympics, is the brother of Maria Shriver, First Lady of California. They are the nephew and niece, respectively, of John, Robert and Ted Kennedy.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver (JFK's sister), the mother of Tim and Maria, founded The Special Olympics.
Well played, Obama!
After comparing his bowling to the Special Olympics on "The Tonight Show" Thursday, President Obama called Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver to apologize before the program even aired.
“He expressed his disappointment and he apologized, in a way that was very moving,” Shriver said on ABC's “Good Morning America.”
“It’s important to see that words hurt, and words do matter. And these words that in some respect can be seen as humiliating or a put-down of people with special needs do cause pain, and they do result in stereotypes."
Obama told Shriver he wants to have some Special Olympics competitors over to the White House for basketball or bowling.
Shriver is the son of Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, President Kennedy's sister.
The president had been making an attempt at self-deprecating humor in his appearance on Jay Leno's show by saying that a recent 129 he scored in the White House bowling alley had been "like Special Olympics, or something."
He and his staff quickly recognized the mistake and moved to limit the damage.
While Obama called Shriver, White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters flying back to Washington with Obama on Air Force One that the president had “made an offhand remark making fun of his own bowling that was in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics.”
“He thinks that the Special Olympics are a wonderful program that gives an opportunity to shine to people with disabilities from around the world,” Burton said.
Aside from the regrettable appearance of a president even implicitly poking fun at the disabled, Obama’s comments came on the same day that he had appeared with California First Lady Maria Shriver, an early supporter and the sister of Tim Shriver.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded the athletic competition for the disabled in 1968. Even before the Special Olympics remark, the idea of a light-hearted late-night turn was something of a risk for a president in the midst of a recession.