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Did President Obama’s mispronunciation of Oso tarnish his mudslide visit?

President Barack Obama speaks to first responders, recovery workers and community members at the Oso Fire Department in Oso, Wash., Tuesday, April 22, 2014, the site of the deadly mudslide that struck the community in March. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Obama had plenty of heartfelt words as he spoke at the Oso firehouse after touring the mudslide debris field. But his remarks are being overshadowed because he mispronounced Oso several times.

He got it right the first time he referenced the town devastated by last month’s slide as he recognized family members of the victims, first responders and officials, saying he came to let the community know the entire country is thinking of them.

But moments later came his big gaffe.

“Because while very few Americans have ever heard of Osso [sic] before the disaster struck, we’ve all been inspired by the incredible way that the community has come together.”

No one said a word, but you can only imagine what people were thinking as he continued, again mispronouncing the name as he referenced letters he received from Darrington, Arlington and “Osso.”

Does the President deserve some slack? Reaction from KIRO Radio listeners is markedly split, with some saying it’s no big deal and the president should be praised for visiting and doing all he has to support the disaster relief efforts. But others say it’s inexcusable. Here’s a sampling of responses to the Ron and Don Show following his remarks:

“I think we should be grateful that the president took time out of his schedule to come to Washington and speak to the people of Oso. I think we should get over his mid pronunciation of the town.
Yes he should have known how to pronounce it but I don’t feel it should dismiss his visit or speech.
We need to see the positive in things instead of always looking for a negative of a good gesture.”

“I was mortified by the presidents speech, not for his presence but lack of preparation. It was distracting to the point I didn’t hear the rest of his comments. My mom texted me from eastern Washington, her comment was “Oso…because it’s o so hard to pronounce.”

“I’d hate to be on the presidential pr team.”

“C’mon fellas… he is human. Did the feds respond remarkably fast and big time to the disaster? YES. Did he spend time with people? YES. IS HIS HEART IN THE RIGHT PLACE? YES. I think your overreaction to the slip up is over the top.”

“You guys should give awe-bama a break, he traveled all the way here to Oso to make that heartfelt speech.”

“Every time the president mispronounced Oso it reminded me of a band on the road that yells out “Hello” and the wrong city they are in.”

“Adding to the stupidity – POTUS is from Hawaii home to “ono” the fish… “ohana” the word for family…and christ – the man’s name is Obama!!! What an idiot.”

“I think it is a little bit like saying Ore-gone or Ya KEE ma, or See-quim or Poo-ee y’all up. He flubbed up. I bet he has been saying ah-so for a month, and said it wrong out of habit. That being said, CRINGING HERE IN ISSAQUAH!!!!!! Why couldn’t he have a little ear bud where someone could tell him OH- so, and let him fix it and apologize.”

“I had mixed emotions and after this, I wished he would have stayed home. Then he has to put the “cherry on the sundae” and say, “AUH..So Strong”.”

“Let it go and stop perpetuating resentment about the way he pronounced it. He didn’t do it out of disrespect. He came, he said the correct things re the communities. Healing starts with understanding, patience and compassion. Forgive him.”

“Honest to GOD! I just heard you all whining and sniveling and ‘cringing’ about the President mispronouncing Oso. GET OVER IT! He flew out here from DC to comfort the people, we got federal dollars. We are USED to people mispronouncing our Indian names. East Coast people can’t even say OREGON correctly. YOU are the ones making this less than it is. Not him. You focus on the negative and not on the positive and you ‘hope’ the media doesn’t do it? YOU are doing it. Pathetic.”

Do you think the president’s mispronunciation tarnished his visit?

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