By now Im sure everyone is familiar with the Presidents off-handed and poorly executed attempt at self-deprecating humor on The Tonight Show last Thursday night. While chatting with show host Jay Leno, the President remarked that he had shot a 129 at the White House bowling alley. As Leno laughingly reassured the President how good the score was, the comedian made a facial expression to the audience that emphasized the underlying mockery of the comment. As the audience and Leno laughed, the President light-heartedly admitted his bowling prowess was .like Special Olympics or something. As one might imagine, this ignited an immediate firestorm across the blogosphere and enraged special needs advocates and families from sea to shining sea. While I fully understand and respect the reaction, being an avid anti-political correctness crusader, I feel compelled to defend the President. Fair and balanced, you know. Was his comment offensive and hurtful, yes. Was it tactless and uncouth? Most certainly. Was it sarcastic, definitely. However, was it malicious and ill-willed, no. In truth, it is an off-colored, spur of the moment comment made by people across the breadth and width of our nation; people who do not have the special blessing of children like Trig Palin or the son of a dear friend of mine in their lives. In junior high my friends and I often admonished each other to stop acting like a retard when we were goofy or awkward. As an adult Ive heard co-workers ask if someone rode to school on the short bus when they made a thoughtless mistake. The President, like most figures that endure the snakes and arrows of public opinion, has a sarcastic edge to his sense of humor; even when it comes to himself. As confession is good for the soul, Ive laid my own transgressions bear and wholeheartedly admit to being a sarcastic bastard. Ask my wife and students, you wont get a moments hesitation in their confirmation. Is it humor at the expense of those who often cant defend themselves, sadly, yes. Is it meant to harm those special angels that walk among us, no. The President is a politician and a damned good one as his meteoric rise attests. However, he, like you and I, are in the end merely human. His off-the-cuff attempt to humanize himself did just that, albeit in a manner far from what he intended. What this highlights, for both the President and the rest of us, is that words often have force, meaning and impact beyond their original intention. An off-hand remark can be just as stinging and hurtful as venomous one. Perhaps if we took a moment or two to keep that in mind, there would be fewer occurrences and less pain in the world. In the meantime, lets hope those unintentionally caught in the path of our verbal ineptness meet it with more grace than we ourselves have demonstrated. Nonetheless, kudos to the President for immediately manning up, taking responsibility and unequivocally apologizing for the remark. Following that, though, I would dare say one would be hard pressed to find The Dead Milkmens punk classic Takin Retards To The Zoo on any iPod within miles of the West Wing; so much for the anti-PC crusade. You win some; you lose some, faithful readers. Stay tuned for further updates as events warrant and the President learns the time-tested truth that silence is golden. Failing that, I might suggest he find a condiment that thoroughly covers the taste of shoe leather and bowling alley wax. Mmmm, mmmm good, indeed!