Groan: President Obama Calls California’s AG Kamala Harris “The Best Looking Attorney General”

“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! C’mon … And she is a great friend and has just been a great supporter for many, many years. She’s brilliant and she’s dedicated.”

This is how President Barack Obama introduced California Attorney General Kamala Harris at a fundraiser in CA yesterday — high praise, to be sure, but the “best-looking” comment is a touch too far.

I have many feelings about this. One is that it was a stupid gaffe, but not surprising: Obama may be more of a feminist than any president in history, but he still lives in the same sexist society that the rest of us do. It’s a society where he once called a female reporter “sweetie” and where a woman’s appearance is seen as something men are entitled to comment publicly upon, even in a professional setting.

The second feeling is also that what he said was true and thus (I think) a joke about how most AGs are pudgy old white dudes.  But obviously that joke, meant as a friendly compliment, didn’t land. I don’t think it’s horribly offensive, but I still think it wasn’t super-appropriate — nor would it be if the genders are reversed.

Writer Garance Franke-Ruta has a good piece over at The Atlantic about this incident. And I would say that Broad Side blogger Joanne Bamberger has a good takeaway for us all on Obama’s comment:

It’s time to make a pact. From now on, if you are in a professional setting and you are thinking in your head, “Now that is one attractive man / woman / person / employee / colleague / business associate, etc.” this is what you must do from this day forward: Keep. It. To. Yourself.


[ABC News]
[The Atlantic]
[Broad Side]

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[Photo: Getty]