So, President Barack Obama described California Attorney General Kamala Harris as being “by far the best-looking attorney general in the country” at a public appearance Thursday.
On Friday, he apologized to her, and she apparently took the apology quite pleasantly and had nothing more of significance to say on the matter.
So why was my Twitter timeline all…well, I guess “atwitter” is a good word choice here…with huge levels of snark about the President’s supposedly awful comment all weekend long, with some of it bleeding into today still? True, there were also the “no big deal” defenders, who probably weren’t helping things, but still…
To be honest, I’m kind of irritated that that so much was made of this one comment, particularly given the fact Obama personally apologized to the woman (with whom he’s apparently been friends for a while) the very next day. Since she hasn’t seen fit to be offended or make a big deal out of this, why are so many other people?
Now, I’m not going to say this kind of thing doesn’t matter; I know it does, and this story explains one way in which it can hurt (granted, the story also indicates that the person speaking up for themselves and calling out the behavior can be a big boost for them…also, the story relates directly to election behavior, so this isn’t a perfect parallel). I know that in the workplace, focusing on a woman’s appearance can lead to a whole host of problems, with sexual harassment simply being one of many potential bits of fallout.
However, this shit was milked way too long by people who want to either make Obama look bad, remind us of gender inequities, or both. “Too long,” I say, because this issue was over and done with and solved by both parties within a day. Yet people online kept making it into a hot button issue for days. How many of them spent the same energy on issues that still haven’t gone away yet, like the issue of an oil company’s burst tar sands pipeline destroying an entire town, or North Carolina wanting to make Christianity the state religion, or multiple states pushing through measures to ban abortion?
Also, taken in context, here’s what Obama said of Harris, who is the first woman and first Indian-American to be elected as the Attorney General of California, at the Thursday fundraising event: “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.”
AFTER that, he says, “She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country”…and right after that, “It’s true. Come on. She is a great friend and has just been a great supporter for many, many years.”
So, the appearance comment was an afterthought. He spent…what?…four or five times longer saying other things about her, right? Better things. More appropriate and relevant things.
This is way different than, say, Mitt Romney telling a room full of rich people that nearly half of America is on government assistance and is lazy and will never vote for a Republican no matter what because they’re being coddled by the Democrats.
One of these things was an off-hand comment meant to be lighthearted that was ill-advised; the other was an outright lie and a slandering of the people who keep this country going in order to stroke the richest people who are most interested in oppressing 99% of us.
Do you see the difference? Can you perhaps keep that in mind the next time any prominent (or even average) person of any gender, party affiliation, religion or whatever has a slip of the tongue that isn’t representative of their past behavior?
Can we be done with this now?