President Barack Obama got himself into hot water Thursday at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in California when he called the state's attorney general "the best-looking attorney general in the country," which some claimed was sexist.
Obama's speech at fundraiser praised Kamala Harris, who was named by Forbes as one of the World's Most Powerful Women, for her success, and then commented on her looks:
You have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you'd want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake. She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country – Kamala Harris is here. It's true. Come on. And she is a great friend and has just been a great supporter for many, many years.
Many don't want to "come on," however, and say it was inappropriate for Obama to make public remarks about another official's appearance at a formal event. Amy Verner of the Globe and Mail said Obama's comments "stopped just short of calling her hot":
On one hand, this could be interpreted as a casual compliment, nothing more than an off-script attempt to sound personable to his audience.
But imagine if the tables were turned and Harris gushed that Obama is the "most handsome leader of the free world" after commending him on his health-care reform plans. Bring on the flack.
Robin Abcarian of L.A. Now said the president was just stating the obvious, and that doesn't make him sexist. She also pointed out that looks are a factor in politics, whether people want to admit it or not:
Let's not pretend that physical beauty is not a bonus in politics, particularly for women, who then walk a fine line between wanting to be found attractive and not wanting to be judged on looks.
The Obamas have benefited immensely from their cool beauty. Likewise, the Romneys benefited from their classic good looks. The rewards of beauty, we all know, can be plentiful, especially when combined with superior brains and ambition.
The president also received criticism in 2008 for calling a female reporter " sweetie."
What do you think? Were President Obama's comments about the California attorney general sexist? Take the poll and comment below.
This poll is now closed, but the debate continues in the comments section.
- Read Peter Fenn: Gun Rights Activists Must Stop Threatening Rhetoric
- Read Susan Milligan: The U.S. Embassy in Egypt and the Rise of Twitter Diplomacy
- Check out U.S. News Weekly, now available on iPad