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Friday, March 20, 2009

Obama Ridicules Special Olympics

Obama Attacks The Disabled
By Jeff Katz

Most who read my columns expect a major serving of humor along with the political or societal critiques. Readers have come to expect that I will be able to find the laughs even in the most difficult and serious of issues. I am afraid they will be disappointed in this column.

Last night while appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, President Barack Obama made history as the first President to take the chance to ridicule the disabled on national television. If you have not seen the footage or heard the audio, I would suggest that you do so quickly before the sites are scrubbed of Obama’s tasteless comments.

Readers know that I am not a supporter of Obama…never have been and never will be. I have long been troubled by his political ideology. Disturbed by his love of big government. Troubled by his embrace of statism.

I have had some real concerns about his willingness to select people for positions of leadership in his administration who themselves were, shall we say, ethically challenged? I’ve been amazed by his cold and calculating willingness to throw his friends like Rev. Wright under the proverbial bus. I am sure that even Macchiavelli would have been impressed by Obama when he tossed his own grandmother under there, as well.

While I had intended to write a column today dealing with the the disgraced late Connecticut Senator Tom Dodd and the pride he must have to know that his progeny seems to be carrying on in his “less than honorable” tradition, I must address the disgusting attack that Obama launched last night against America’s disabled community.

I have learned an awful about the members of our society who are disabled. I remember visiting my Aunt Ethel, when I was a child, and she was institutionalized in a state run facility. My Aunt Ethel was deemed mentally retarded and she was turned over to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania which proceeded to warehouse her along with thousands of other human beings. I remember clearly to this day how my aunt used to cry when, after visiting her, my family had to leave. She begged us to please take her home. After years of being a resident of the state school, my aunt was blessed to have been chosen for a group home. The change in her was remarkable. Now instead of crying when our visit was ending, my aunt often times would tell us that it was time for us to leave. She had plans with her friends and housemates. Sometimes it was a special dinner, sometimes a movie or a play. But what it really was, was a life. A full, happy and rewarding life. Sadly, even as my aunt was living her life there were small minded, nasty people who made awful comments about the disabled residents of that wonderful group home. Some made fun of these beautiful people, ridiculed their skills and abilities. Barack Obama proved last night that he would have felt right at home with these hateful fools.

Today we’d like to think that we have moved past the point where people would disparage the disabled. I am the proud father of a beautiful little girl who happens to be severely disabled. Julia is the light of my life, my princess. I have been humbled watching Julia and her teachers and therapists over the years. Julia is six years old, but functions at a level of about two years old. She does not speak and she does not walk, but she is a delightful little girl with a myriad of abilities. She has the ability to truly appreciate a delicious cookie. She delights in the pleasure that a cool breeze creates. She loves music. Someday I hope that Julia will be able to participate in the Special Olympics.

If you have never had the opportunity to be part of the Special Olympics, either as a volunteer or as an audience member, I would urge you to do so. I promise that you will see courage and personal strength like you have never seen before. The passion and intensity that the Special Olympians demonstrate is something to behold. They are our fellow human beings, some young and some old, some male and some female. They are from every religious and ethnic group. They have challenges that most of us do not have and they combat them on a daily basis. Sadly, they must also face petty, ignorant and hateful attacks like the ones spoken last night by Barack Obama. Our Special Olympians, indeed all of our disabled friends and family, demonstrate class and dignity on a daily basis even in the face of ugly words designed to demean them.

I still think that President Barack Obama is wrong on the issues. I used to think that perhaps he was an otherwise honorable man with a very different political bent. This morning, I am simply disgusted by his conduct. Now I know what it is like to be ashamed of your own President.