WASHINGTON — President Obama is in trouble for calling Kanye West a "jackass" after the rapper interrupted singer Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards.
"Obama should not have called Kanye a jackass," said Donna Rivers, an African-American woman who marched outside the White House with hundreds of others Wednesday. "It's insulting and unfair to all jackasses."
Rivers and the other protesters, mostly members of the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), held up signs demanding that Obama apologize to jackasses.
"Poor creatures," said Matt Johnson, a Baltimore accountant. "What have they done to deserve being compared to Kanye? Have they ever stepped on a stage uninvited? Have they ever interrupted a speech by a horse or cow?"
He added that he has heard West's music on his teen-aged son's iPod and, if given a choice, would prefer to listen to a jackass braying.
Julia Flowers, a lifelong Democrat, said she found Obama's comment particularly upsetting because the symbol of the Democratic Party happens to be a jackass. "Obama should be more respectful to jackasses," she said. "The least he could have done was compare Kanye to some other animal, such as a rat."
But Maurice Davis disagreed with her, saying no animal deserved to be compared with West. "Why do animals need to be insulted?" Davis said. "Why couldn't Obama just say that Kanye West is a turnip?"
Davis' words did not sit well with fellow protester Lucas Rove of Hagerstown, Md., who happens to be a turnip farmer. "Leave turnips out of this," he said. "They're good vegetables."
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs released a statement saying that the President was speaking off-the-record and used the term "jackass" not to refer to the animal but as a synonym for "imbecile."
Gibbs' statement drew objections from another quarter. "We're insulted that the president believes that imbeciles are like Kanye West," said Glenn Beck, president of the American Association of Imbeciles.