President Barack Obama, in an appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno, made a self-deprecating but ill-advised joke, in which he referred to the Special Olympics. He quickly apologized. Crisis averted.
But the real story is the media double standard: Imagine the uproar if a President John McCain made the Special Olympics comment.
For that matter, imagine if a President McCain mistook a White House window for a door; his secretary of Treasury had not paid taxes; he granted two dozen waivers to his no-lobbyists-in-government rule; and he had promised bipartisanship but got only three across-the-aisle votes for his "stimulus" package.
Imagine if President McCain, after promising a "clean break" from his predecessor, retained "extraordinary rendition," the FISA program, the option of wiretapping without warrants, and the option of using "enhanced interrogation techniques"; he promised to close Gitmo, then said it would take as long as a year, but then our European allies refused to take in "detainees" from their own countries; he reneged on/fudged his promise to have all combat troops out of Iraq within "16 months of his presidency"; he adopted for Afghanistan the same counterinsurgency strategy used in Iraq, which, as a candidate, he'd criticized for not "achieving its objectives"; and he used the same "state secrets" argument as did the Bush administration in the same court case, to avoid turning over certain national security documents in an ACLU-brought case on behalf of an alleged torture victim/detainee.
Imagine if -- on the campaign trail -- a future President McCain had declared a nuclear-armed Iran "unacceptable" but agreed to engage in negotiations without preconditions; Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the new President he must apologize for 60 years of anti-Iranian activity; President McCain then reached out to the Iranians in a televised address; and in response, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- who holds ultimate authority in Iran -- told him to a) drop animosity and criticism, b) end sanctions, c) unfreeze assets, and d) end "unconditional support" for Israel.
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