Special Olympics to Rahm Emanuel: Apology not accepted

Or rather: Apology unacceptable — literally.

Not a fight I would have picked, but it’s fun to watch Rahm squirm, I guess.

Seeking to damp down the controversy over Rahm Emanuel’s reported, months-old use of the word, a White House official yesterday told me and other reporters that Emanuel had called Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver to apologize.

“The apology was accepted,” the official said yesterday.

The vice president for communications at the Special Olympics, Kirsten Seckler, told me that this account of the conversation is “inaccurate.”

“Tim didn’t accept his apology,” she said. “Tim can’t do that. He can’t accept an apology on behalf of all people with disabilities.”

Having been informed that his apology can’t be accepted, Rahm duly apologized again and promised to sign an online pledge to end the use of “retarded.” Which is super, but (a) given what a sharp comic sensibility can do with the word, I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon, and (b) the fact that Rahm’s malice was directed at lefty activists and not at the mentally disabled is going to lead a lot of people to shrug this off. It’s a White House version of that South Park episode when the boys started calling obnoxious Harley riders “fags.” Is a slur that’s traditionally used to denigrate group A still offensive when it’s reappropriated for group B?

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