The way your career pundits function: Last week, Barack Obama made a joking remark concerning the fact that Kamala Harris is conventionally good-looking.
As a general matter, men shouldn’t make such remarks in professional settings. By now, you’d almost think that liberals would understand why.
Many liberals do not.
Over the weekend, we were struck by some of the liberal men who complained about the reaction to Obama’s remark. Jonathan Capehart just didn’t get it, of course. And this is what Bill Richardson said on yesterday’s Meet the Press:
RICHARDSON (4/7/13): You know, maybe I’m a Neanderthal, but I thought the president’s comment was harmless. It was a political speech. He talked about her accomplishments. He talked about her competence. And then he threw in that line.“She’s not the attorney general,” Andrea Mitchell instantly said, stating a blindingly obvious point.
You know, you’re at a political event, what are you going to read, her resume? So my point is this—You know, political correctness has reached the point where it’s out of control.
Am I going to be criticized, for instance, if I say that a movie star like Scarlett Johansson is beautiful? Are they going to go after me? Probably.
For ourselves, we think a liberal man has hit rock bottom when he complains about “political correctness” in a matter like this, when he wonders if “they” will come after him if he makes such a remark.
That said, there is no doubt of a second point. Reaction to a comment like this will often be artificial. The pundit corps is constantly looking for something of minor consequence, but high interest, to blather about on the TV machine. On This Week, it was sad to see George Will elevated to the place where he made this obvious point.
Obama shouldn’t have made the remark. But when he did, many of the usual suspects were eager to use it to get through the night—or the early morning. Having said that, let us also say this:
The analysts came right out of their chairs when Arianna Huffington sounded off about this matter on This Week. Arianna thought it was time for everyone to calm down:
STEPHANOPOULOS (4/7/13): Arianna, should everybody relax or did the president really make a mistake here?“It was a fun story,” Greta van Susteren instantly blurted, reminding us that millionaire pundits persistently want to have that.
HUFFINGTON: Everybody should relax. Lighten up. It was an aside. It's unbelievable. George and I were talking in the green room about the G. K. Chesterton quote, "If there is one thing worse than the modern weakening of modern morals, it's the modern strengthening of minor morals."
Mock outrage. I mean I wish there was more outrage about the jobs numbers than there was about, than we had about Kamala Harris.
Arianna was outraged by all the mock outrage; she wanted to hear discussions of substantial fare. She couldn’t even bring herself to allow that Obama actually shouldn’t have made the remark. And this brought the analysts right out of their chairs.
They recalled the disgraceful things this Big Pundit Loudmouth once said, at a time when she didn’t choose to relax. Back then, she spoke as part of an all-star panel on Rivera Live, Geraldo's nightly CNBC program:
HUFFINGTON (11/9/99): When you are talking about a consultant that you bring on to give opinions on how to dress and whether you're an alpha male and how do you become a beta male, frankly—This person loved mock outrage then.
You know, what is fascinating is that the way [Candidate Gore] is now dressing makes a lot of people feel disconnected from him. And there was this marvelous story in one of the New Hampshire papers saying, “Nobody here, nobody here in Hanover, New Hampshire, wears tan suits with blue shirts.” You know, it's just—and buttons, all four buttons. You know, it's not just—it's just not the way most American males dress.
In fact, there were no suits with four buttons. Beyond that, we never found the marvelous story which said no one in Hanover wears tan suits, although the piece may even exist, given the lunacy then existing all through the mainstream presws. Beyond that, the “alpha male” talking-point was bullshit. So was the earlier complaint Arianna had voiced this night, in which she complained, over Al Franken’s rebuttal, that the Gore campaign was paying Naomi Wolf too much.
Wolf and Gore had both denied the unsourced claim that Wolf was telling him how to dress. No one contradicted that on the record, but Arianna's mock outrage was high.
Candidate Gore wore no suits with four buttons. But other pundits were complaining that Gore was wearing suits with three buttons. Making her comment stand out from the pack, Arianna bumped it to four.
In case you still don’t understand, this actually is the way George W. Bush reached the White House. People are dead all over the world because Arianna, and many others like her, just wouldn’t stop that relentless bullshit, with all that phony outrage.
Arianna was full of death-dealing outrage that night. But no one will ever challenge her on it. She will never be asked to explain why she kept saying these things.
The career liberal world has agreed to pretend that that history doesn’t exist. The relentless comments of the Ariannas and the Frank Riches have been airbrushed away.
Arianna was a disgrace that night. Today, though, in a startling flip-flop, we’re told that it’s time to relax.
He should act like a president. He has taken the dignity out of the office. Running around with stars and trying to be a celebrity. How about being a president and acting presidential.He is a disgrace to the office. He went on the apology tour oversees now something stupid as this. America is becoming a joke all over the world.ReplyDelete
Hmm. Maybe he could invade Iraq.Delete
Or clear brush.Delete
I still laugh out loud when I remember Bob Schieffer, Bush golfing buddy, sputtering in outrage about how Al Gore dressed like a farmer. Undoubtedly, madness gripped the corporate media in that election.ReplyDelete
Somerby, When will you stop pretending Al Gore can do no wrong?ReplyDelete
This was a harmless comment, seized on fools, and pseudo-feminist entrepreneurs who believe they will be able to squeeze two or three federal grants as acts of contrition. And they will.ReplyDelete
So Obama's comment was a plot for liberals to get government handouts. Brilliant!Delete
It's not harmless - it's consistently a judgment that women are there to hold up 2 tits, to astound by looks, and secondly maybe have a brain. Obama did right by apologizing quickly. His "sweetie" comment to a professional journalist didn't lead to the same contrition. And Obama's record with women has been pretty poor - Elizabeth Warren, Dawn Johnsen both got left out to dry; Patti Solis Doyle was used as revenge points; Susan Rice was pushed under a bus. The boys' club remains.ReplyDelete
Is it possible that Arianna Huffington has learned something in the almost fifteen years since she was on that program? I'm not a fan of Huffington, but if Hilary Clinton has grown in the past twenty years, perhaps Huffington has too. Has she spent much time recently on phony outrage, is, I guess, what I am asking.ReplyDelete
I heard Al Gore give a speech about the Constitution at Constitution Hall during the Bush administration, and he was very impressive.
Yes, Arianna has learned that news sells better with Kim Kardashian's photo next to it.Delete
"it's consistently a judgment that women are there to hold up 2 tits, to astound by looks, and secondly maybe have a brain."ReplyDelete
Except for the fact that that's not at all what the President said, I agree that the above idea is not harmless.
By the way, if we were to take a random sample of american women and were to expose them to the President's remarks about Kamala Harris, what percentage do you think would actually be offended? Greater or less than 10%?ReplyDelete
In short, if you're talking about a woman's looks in a professional situation and you're not a designer, you're probably doing it wrong.
Do we really want to remove all character from our statesmen? What would a man like JFK or LBJ be able to say today? Is being reduced to impotent managerial PC speak a *good* thing for society? When you try not to offend anyone you end up saying nothing. How long have we been saying nothing as a society?ReplyDelete
Obama calling a reporter "sweetie" is our generation's "character"? I don't even know if LBJ would use this; I certainly doubt JFK for all his womanizing, he knew how to do his fondling under the table.Delete
When politicians are at ease, you know you're about to be grossed out.
It is one of those "all over the map/cake and eat it too days for Bob. The comment was bad but mostly in the sense that some LIBERAL men will disagree, yet some of the flack they get will be "artificial", just not from the Daily Howler of course. Oh yes, let's hear about one of Ariana Huffington's stupidist moments for the bumpteth time. When you say, never write about the Defense Budget, you really have time to take these things apart.ReplyDelete
Bob, who derides the media culture of "gotcha," especially when it was exemplified by Russert, has no problem himself dredging up quotes from more than a decade ago. I am beginning to think his obsession with Campaign 2000 is a diagnosable disorder.ReplyDelete
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