Obama apologizes for joking about art history majors

7:00 PM, Feb 21, 2014   |    comments
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Even the commander in chief can acknowledge that he can be glib.

President Obama wrote a handwritten apology to University of Texas art historian Ann Collins Johns last week after she took offense over an off-the-cuff dig he took at art history majors in a recent speech in Wisconsin.

"I promise you folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree," Obama said in his speech Jan. 30, which was focused on better aligning job training programs with employer needs. "Now, nothing wrong with an art history degree - I love art history. So I don't want to get a bunch of e-mails from everybody."

Obama's attempt to backtrack didn't stop Johns from e-mailing her complaint to the president through the White House website.

Johns, who provided the letter to the art website Hyperallergic, didn't expect a response - let alone from the president himself.

"Let me apologize for my off-the-cuff remarks," Obama wrote. "I was making a point about the jobs market, not the value of art history. As it so happens, art history was one of my favorite subjects in high school, and it has helped me take in a great deal of joy in my life that I might otherwise have missed."

The president asked Johns to pass on his apology to the rest of the art history department at UT for what he called his "glib remark."

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was not impressed by Obama's decision to apologize.

"Pathetic Obama apology to art history prof. We do need more degrees that lead to #jobs ," Rubio wrote on his Twitter account.

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