May 19, 2012
Obama: Stop Condescending to Women
By CAMPBELL BROWN
WHEN I listen to President Obama speak to and about women, he sometimes sounds too paternalistic for my taste. In numerous appearances over the years — most recently at the Barnard graduation — he has made reference to how women are smarter than men. It’s all so tired, the kind of fake praise showered upon those one views as easy to impress. As I listen, I am always bracing for the old go-to cliché: “Behind every great man is a great woman.”
Some women are smarter than men and some aren’t. But to suggest to women that they deserve dominance instead of equality is at best a cheap applause line.
My bigger concern is that in courting women, Mr. Obama’s campaign so far has seemed maddeningly off point. His message to the Barnard graduates was that they should fight for a “seat at the table” — the head seat, he made sure to add. He conceded that it’s a tough economy, but he told the grads, “I am convinced you are tougher” and “things will get better — they always do.”
Hardly reassuring words when you look at the reality. According to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, about 53.6 percent of men and women under the age of 25 who hold bachelor’s degrees were jobless or underemployed last year, the most in at least 11 years. According to the Pew Research Center, if we broaden the age group to 18- to 29-year-olds, an estimated 37 percent are unemployed or out of the work force, the highest share in more than three decades.
The human faces shouldn’t get lost amid the statistics. I spent last weekend with a friend who attended excellent private schools and graduated from Tufts University two years ago. She’s intelligent, impressive and still looking for a full-time job.
The women I know who are struggling in this economy couldn’t be further from the fictional character of Julia, presented in Mr. Obama’s Web ad, “The Life of Julia,” a silly and embarrassing caricature based on the assumption that women look to government at every meaningful phase of their lives for help.
and this excerpt from Lorac’a article over at Uppity’s place:
Obama attempts to motivate the lazy, underachieving women at Barnard College
I remember reading last year that very few schools requested Obama to speak at their commencement – if my memory serves me right, it was only around ten schools. Usually a ton of schools want a sitting president to speak at their commencement. I don’t know how many schools may have requested him this year, but Barnard was NOT one of them. (Maybe NO one requested him this year, as this is the only commencement speech he is giving!!!) This year Barnard had arranged for Jill Abramson to speak.
Not having ANYthing to do with the upcoming election or the declining support of women for his reelection, of course, Obama called Barnard and invited himself to take Ms. Abramson’s place. No biggie. He was right when he told us that he has EXPERIENCE. He has experience kicking other people “off the ballot” or taking their place. So I’m sure the rudeness and tactlessness and arrogance of this move didn’t faze him one bit.
Here are Greta’s observations:
Here are the facts: Barnard College asks NY Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson to be its commencement speaker. Giving a commencement speech is lots of work and means giving up a weekend – but Abramson graciously accepted. Abramson is a big deal – she is the first woman Executive Editor of the New York Times – so this is a big deal for Barnard. And yes, having a woman Executive Editor of the New York Times is a big deal for women of all ages. She is blazing the trail. Barnard was very lucky to get her as the speaker and my guess is that others wanted her but she turned them down to speak at Barnard’s commencement.
And something else about Abramson:
“We have so many reasons to value Ms. Abramson’s place in history as the first woman to appear at the top of The New York Times masthead,” Spar had said. “From her early days as a reporter to her current post as the paper’s executive editor, she has been unfailing in her convictions and a true inspiration. I am certain that our graduates will be energized by her words and personal story.
So, look – it’s a lousy school, they got a loser to speak initially (OMG she started as a reporter and WORKED her way up, she’s a peon!). They’re very lucky to have gotten Obama. And let’s face it, how inspirational could it have been for all those female graduates to have to look up TO A WOMAN? Certainly, Barack “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” Obama saved the day!
If you want to see the whole text of his speech, it’s here. It’s worth it just to see all the personal references and the sickening way he was trying to ingratiate himself with women. Yeah, it’s no coincidence he “pushed off the ballot” this female Jill Abramson at this college for women.