Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Rahm's apology accepted, at last

The Special Olympics is disputing the White House claim that its chairman, Tim Shriver, accepted Rahm Emanuel's apology for calling liberals "retarded."

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."

Shriver had simply said, she said, that he was willing to continue the conversation with the chief of staff.

UPDATE: Seckler called back to say that Shriver had accepted the apology in that earlier conversation on his own behalf.

"The response from the White House implicated that Tim accepted the apology on behalf of all people with intellectual disabilities, and we want to make clear that he did not accept the apology on behalf of all people with intellectual disabilities," she said. "The way the spokesperson said it made it seem that he had accepted the apology on behalf of all people with intellectual disabilities, and we want to make clear that that’s not accurate."

Still, it seems that the original White House statement that he'd accepted the apology was an accurate report of the call.

UPDATE: Emanuel met Wednesday with six disability advocates. He "sincerely apologized," again, for using the word, promising to sign an online pledge to end the use of the word, the advocates said in a joint statement.

Emanuel also promised to "examine" Congressional legislation that would remove the word from federal law.

"We are thankful to Mr. Emanuel for meeting with us today and hearing our concerns," said the joint statement from the six advocates whom he met, led by Shriver.

"Our community has earned the right to be respected instead of ridiculed. We have suffered injustice for generations and we are demanding that it end," the said in the statement. "This is another small step on the road to a country that accepts the gifts of all."

UPDATE: Seckler says that, today, the leaders did accept Emanuel's apology: "All six of the advocates, including Tim Shriver, accepted Rahm Emanuel’s apology on their own behalf and on behalf of the organizations they represent."



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