Barack Obama: He's Even a Good Apologizer

Obama's quick apology for his "Special Olympics" crack impresses the Times. Would Bush have gotten the same understanding treatment?

Even Obama's apologies are impressive, reporter David Stoutindicated inhis Saturday story about Obamahaving "quickly apologized" for making an ill-advised joke on NBC's "Tonight Show" comparing his bowling skill to that of the mentally handicapped: "It was like the Special Olympics or something."

President Obama quickly apologized for his quip on "The Tonight Show" on NBC on Thursday comparing his modest bowling skills to those of athletes who have disabilities.

Chatting with the host, Jay Leno, the president said he had been practicing at the White House bowling alley and rolled a 129. "It was like the Special Olympics or something," Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama and his aides recognized the slip at once and moved to minimize the damage. Mr. Obama called the chairman of the Special Olympics, Tim Shriver, from Air Force One on his way back to Washington on Thursday before the taped interview with Mr. Leno was broadcast.

"He apologized in a way I think was very moving," Mr. Shriver said Friday on "Good Morning America."

(Stout didn't mention that Tim Shriver is an Obama supporter and donated to his presidential campaign.)

If President Bush had made such a "quip," would the Times be so focused on the marvelous apology that followed, or the actual remark that made it necessary? It's a purehypothetical,since the allegedly uncouth, insensitive, verbally challenged Bush somehow managed to go two full terms without making the kind of remark the silver-tongued Obama did within two months of taking office.