‘The world is full of guys,” Corey Flood says in the classic 1980s film “Say Anything.” “Be a man. Don’t be a guy.”
President Obama forgot that life lesson during a speech at a fundraiser in the San Francisco suburbs on Thursday. He sang the praises of California Attorney General Kamala Harris calling her “brilliant,” “dedicated” and “tough.” So far, so good. Then he added: “She also happens to be, by far, the best looking attorney general in the country.” Much less good.
Touting a female politician’s looks is almost never smart — particularly when there’s already a story line out there that the president’s inner circle is a boys’ club that is unwelcoming to women.
For those who insist that Obama meant the looks comment as praise and that any outrage over it is manufactured, we ask this: Would he have mentioned how “handsome” Delaware State Attorney General Beau Biden is if he had been speaking an an event in the First State? Hard to imagine.
The Twitterverse exploded — with voices on the left condemning Obama for indulging a sort of locker-room, boys-being-boys mentality and those on the right insisting that if a Republican politician had said something similar, the media would have treated it as a national scandal. (It seems that Obama’s remark drew plenty of national coverage, but that’s just us.)
New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait summed up the sentiment: “For a president who has become a cultural model for many of his supporters in so many other ways, the example he’s setting here is disgraceful.”
Obama called Harris Thursday night to apologize. But in a week in which the president wanted to talk gun control, budget and sequester, another debate about White House attitudes toward women served as a major distraction.
President Obama, for forgetting that you shouldn’t just say anything that pops into your head, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at firstname.lastname@example.org.