President Barack Obama is being accused of sexism for publicly remarking on California Attorney General Kamala Harris’s good looks at a fundraiser in San Francisco yesterday.
Barack Obama said of Kamala Harris: “She’s brilliant and she’s dedicated, she’s tough…She also happens to be, by far, the best looking attorney general.”
The president added: “It’s true! C’mon!”
According to a pool reporter who attended the event, Barack Obama was doting on Kamala Harris, “noting a couple of times that she is, objectively, easy on the eyes”.
Commentators both liberal and conservative immediately took to Twitter to blast the president’s remarks as “unsettling”, “disgraceful” and “disrespectful”.
“Obama’s comment about Kamala Harris is disgraceful and really terrible for workplace equality,” wrote Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine.
Rebecca Traister, writer for The New York Times Magazine and Salon: “On What planet in [Barack Obama’s] mind did he think that sounded like the right thing to say?”
Barack Obama’s supporters argue that the president and Kamala Harris, who is not married, are good friends and that it shouldn’t be considered a crime to compliment a women on her obvious good looks.
“The fact that this has in some way become a story about his overall respect of women (or lack thereof) is a slap in the face to the first lady, the first daughters, and every other woman who appreciates a compliment that extends far beyond appearance from the president or any other man,” Angela Rye, a Democratic political consultant, told Politico.
First Lady Michelle Obama has not commented on the controversy , but she did have a slip-up of her own on Thursday in a TV interview where she accidentally called herself a “single mother”.
During an interview with Burlington, Vermont CBS affiliant WCAX, Michelle Obama was discussing healthy foods and how the demands of raising a family can leave little time for nutritious cooking.
“Believe me, as a busy single mother,” Michelle Obama said, before quickly correcting herself: “Or I shouldn’t say single – as a busy mother.”
Explaining her slip-up, Michelle Obama added: “Sometimes, you know when you’ve got the husband who’s president it can feel a little single. But he’s there.”
Kamala Harris, 48, is a Democratic favorite and a trailblazer in her home state.
Her mixed race descent – having been born of an Asian Indian mother who emigrated to the U.S. from Chennai and a Jamaican American father- made her the first female, African American and Asian American attorney general in the state.
On top of that, Kamala Harris is the first Indian American attorney general in the US.
Kamala Harris’ career shows no sign of stopping, as she is regularly mentioned when pundits speculate about possible Supreme Court nominees should a new judge be appointed during President Barack Obama’s second term.
Another possible track for her is the gubernatorial one, as attorney general is a common springboard position for those hoping to climb the local ladder.
Little is known about Kamala Harris’ current romantic situation, except that she was in a serious relationship with the former mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown.
Kamala Harris and Willie Brown were a serious item and dated when he was the Speaker of the California State Assembly, but they reportedly broke up in 1998.
There are no pictures of President Barack Obama and Kamala Harris together at Thursday’s event, which was a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee held at the home of John Goldman, the heir to the Levi Strauss fortune.