Sunday, November 1, 2009

You're Likable Enough, Mr. President

Fox News suggests Barack Obama is a boor because he doesn't play basketball with girls.

Bonnie Erbe of U.S. News & World Reports wrote about the President, "I just don't get the impression this man is comfortable with women. Nor do I believe he cares about them beyond needing women's votes."

Even the New York Times ran a story in which an anonymous junior aide was quoted saying the "sports-fan thing at the White House" could become "annoying," and Maureen Dowd challenged the President to a game of Scrabble to see what kind of X words "the smarty-pants Y chief executive can come up with."

There are legitimate criticisms of President Obama. Has he dithered around Afghanistan? Has he bribed seniors to support healthcare reform with $250 social security checks? Has he done anything meaningful for middle class Americans strapped with bad mortgages?

Maybe. Maybe not.

But is Barack Obama a good ol' boy?

No. Not even close.

If anyone is desperate for votes, it's the radical right-wingers like Dick Armey whose men's club threw Republican Dede Scozzafava under the bus in upstate New York because she wasn't conservative enough.

So how does at least one XX love the President's treatment of women? Let me count the ways.

1. In November of 2008, President-elect Obama appointed Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State. Since her confirmation, Secretary Clinton has announced to the world that the civil rights of women and girls are a priority and at the core of American foreign policy under the Obama administration. Clinton has spoken out in a strong voice against violence, rape, economic and political persecution of women and girls around the world. That half of the sky women hold up in Africa and Middle East countries is finally graced with sunlight shining on the atrocities inflicted by guerilla armies, evil despots and brazen misogynists.

2.The first thing Barack Obama did as President of the United States was sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 ensuring victims of employment discrimination have a fair chance of bringing their claims. Since women today make 78 cents for every dollar men make, this is important, good law that slaps down a very bad Supreme Court case written by Justice Alito.

3. On March 11, 2009 President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls made up of 25 high-ranking officials including the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Labor, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Housing, Transportation, Energy, Education along with the Attorney General. The Council's purpose is to "establish a coordinated Federal response to issues that particularly impact the lives of women and girls and to ensure that Federal programs and policies address and take into account the distinctive concerns of women and girls, including women of color and those with disabilities."

4. In May of 2009 President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court, who was confirmed by the Senate and sits as the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court Justice and only the third woman.

5. Seven presidential cabinet posts have been granted to women, the most of any United States President.

6. On Friday, the Obama administration recommended political asylum for a Guatemalan woman seeking refuge from horrendous abuse by her husband. This decision, a departure from Bush policy, offers hope to millions of women who are brutally tortured and abused in their homelands. The Statue of Liberty's torch is brighter and the melting pot of our American society once again includes a pinch of compassion.

7. There is a realistic chance a comprehensive healthcare reform bill will pass.

These are but a few examples of major policy shifts since the new president took office that directly impact and enhance the lives of women and their children.

Stories about male bonding in the gym and on the golf course are easy targets and cheap shots absent real women who felt left out or disadvantaged. The gender sensitivity violation issued by pundits, lacking any genuine narrative about real harm, does not come close to overshadowing the tremendous strides the Obama administration has taken to elevate the critical issues women and girls face around the globe.


Anonymous said...

I can see how the sports-fan thing could become annoying, absolutely. To call it indicative of anything other than annoying-sports-fan behavior is silly.

Particularly, as you point out, when you look the President's record, and of course the group of lunkheads offered up by the Republicans.

I saw that Mitt Romney—a guy who was willing to ignore such things when he was governor of Massachusetts—is onboard the oust-Scozzafava train as well.

A Fox News story posted on Romney's Web site says:
"I have chosen not to endorse the Republican candidate in New York's 23rd District, "Romney said, "and that should speak a certain amount of volume. I can't endorse our candidate in that race."

Sarah said...

Thanks for the post. Thanks for the perspective! We've got plenty to commend President Obama on in regards to women's equality and opportunity... and plenty of issues on which to push. White House basketball...this is not one of them.

Heidi said...

Well said Cynthia! It sometimes seems that all the criticism against Obama ignores the atrocious eight years beforehand that actually left us where we are. I would take Obama as an advocate for women over Bush and his cronies any and every day.

During the campaign, I often worried that the people of the U.S. were tying every single one of their hopes and dreams to Obama, and now we're all disappointed that he isn't the absolute savior we expected him to be, that he's not delivering on every individual's hopes for a better country.

But in comparison to his predecessors, whose mess he's had to clean up before he can start moving things forward, he's a much better president. But he's not perfect. And he never will be.