- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 6, 2014

Can President Obama get respect if he can’t spell it?

At a White House event Thursday night to honor America’s musical “Women of Soul,” Mr. Obama was introducing legendary singer Aretha Franklin when he botched the name of her signature song, “Respect.”

The president evoked laughter in the East Room when he spelled Miss Franklin’s song, “R-S-P-E-C-T.” To make matters worse, in the song itself, the Queen of Soul belts out the correct spelling.

Three pool reporters at the event heard the president misspell the word, and verified it on audio recordings. But the White House’s official transcript of the event portrayed Mr. Obama as spelling the word correctly.

The president said of Miss Franklin and her song, “She had no idea it would become a rallying cry for African Americans and then for women.”

Among the other musical artists were Patti LaBelle, who thanked the president and first lady Michelle Obama for their time in the White House.

“You have lifted my soul,” Miss LaBelle told the first couple. “Baby, you”ve got swag. You’ve taken us places that no one has taken us in years.”

The stage had a 10-piece band and three back-up singers, who were flanked by portraits of Martha and George Washington.

Spotted in the front row of the audience with the Obamas were Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

The program also included performances by Tessanne Chin, Melissa Etheridge,  Ariana Grande, Janelle Monáe and Jill Scott.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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