Sarah Palin continued today to position herself as President Obama’s 2012 election opponent by releasing a statement that hammered Obama’s comment about his bowling and the Special Olympics last night on The Tonight Show. Palin said that she was shocked by Obama’s comment.
Palin, herself managed to insult and patronize the disabled. “I was shocked to learn of the comment made by President Obama about Special Olympics. This was a degrading remark about our world’s most precious and unique people, coming from the most powerful position in the world.” Governor Palin thought she was defending the disabled, but as a member of the disabled community, I can tell you that disabled people do not like to be patronized by described with terms like unique, special, and precious. It is an insult.
Most disabled people don’t want to be precious or special. They only want to be treated and viewed in the same manner as everyone else. I hope she doesn’t have this same attitude with her intellectually disabled son, but I have a bad feeling that she does. The last half of Palin’s statement was much more appropriate, “These athletes overcome more challenges, discrimination and adversity than most of us ever will. By the way, these athletes can outperform many of us and we should be proud of them. I hope President Obama’s comments do not reflect how he truly feels about the special needs community.”
Turning this into a political issue is a terrible thing to do. I prefer the position that Tim Shriver the chairmen of the Special Olympics has taken. Shriver accepted Obama’s apology and urged that this incident be used as a teachable moment, “This is a teachable moment for our country. We are asking young people, parents and leaders from all walks of life to engage in conversation and help dispel negative caricatures about people with intellectual disabilities. We believe that it’s only through open conversation and dialogue about how stereotypes can cause pain that we can begin to work together to create communities of acceptance and inclusion for all.”
Maybe I am so offended because I have spent time with some intellectually disabled persons in the past. Obama made an insensitive remark that is sadly all too common in our society. I am glad he apologized, but I am not happy that his apology was not posted in the White House blog. I shudder at the idea that Palin is positioning herself again as the candidate of those with special needs. Her attitude about the disabled is old fashioned and straight out of 50 years ago. There are many degrees of disability so it was unfair of Palin to generalize the way she did.