Rahm Emanuel, under fire for making an "f-ing retarded" comment during a strategy session months ago, met Wednesday at the White House with Special Olympics head Tim Shriver and other advocates for the disabled to try to quell the controversy.
The White House chief of staff issued the invitation last week after Shriver wrote him to protest the derogatory comment, reportedly made by Emanuel in reference to some liberal activists.
Also on hand for Wednesday’s mea culpa meeting were Andrew Imparato, president of the American Association of People with Disabilities; Ricardo Thornton, a Special Olympics athlete; and, Peter Berns of The Arc.
The remarks drew increasing national attention after Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called Monday for Emanuel’s firing.
Fox News media analyst Bernard Goldberg, however, told Fox News that he believed the media coverage had been largely overblown.
"He’s not a bigot for using it, and this political correctness is totally out of hand," Goldberg said.
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report last week that Emanuel made the remarks after some participants said they planned to air ads attacking conservative Democrats who were critical of Obama's health care agenda.
Palin, whose youngest child, Trig, has Down syndrome, wrote that Emanuel's expletive was "heartbreaking" and said his "degrading scolding" has been "completely ignored by the White House."
"Just as we'd be appalled if any public figure of Rahm’s stature ever used the "N-word" or other such inappropriate language, Rahm’s slur on all God's children with cognitive and developmental disabilities -- and the people who love them -- is unacceptable, and it’s heartbreaking," wrote Palin.
"Rahm is known for his caustic, crude references about those with whom he disagrees, but his recent tirade against participants in a strategy session was such a strong slap in many American faces that our president is doing himself a disservice by seeming to condone Rahm’s recent sick and offensive tactic," she continued.
Emanuel reportedly apologized for the remarks in a phone call last week to Shriver, who has launched a campaign to end use of the "R" word.
"Rahm called Tim Shriver Wednesday to apologize and the apology was accepted," a White House official told Politico.com on Tuesday.
"The White House remains committed to addressing the concerns and needs of Americans living with disabilities and recognizes that derogatory remarks demean us all," the official reportedly said.
In describing his measly score, Obama said, "It's like -- it was like Special Olympics, or something.”
A White House spokesman was forced to release a hurried statement which said: "The president made an off-hand remark making fun of his own bowling that was in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics. He thinks the Special Olympics is a wonderful program that gives an opportunity for people with disabilities from around the world."
At the time, Palin responded by saying: “I was shocked to learn of the comment made by President Obama about Special Olympics. This was a degrading remark about our world's most precious and unique people, coming from the most powerful position in the world... I hope President Obama’s comments do not reflect how he truly feels about the special needs community."
This is the second time the Obama administration has drawn fire for its treatment of people with disabilities. Last year, President Obama compared his bowling skills to a performance at the Special Olympics while on the "Tonight Show."