President Obama is being accused of sexism for publicly remarking on California Attorney General Kamala Harris’s good looks at a fundraiser in San Francisco on Thursday, though he was forced to call her and apologize later that night after his remarks sparked a firestorm and he was accused of being sexist.
The President said of the 48-year-old: ‘She’s brilliant and she’s dedicated, she’s tough…She also happens to be, by far, the best looking attorney general,’ Obama said, adding, ‘It’s true! C’mon!’
According to a pool reporter who attended the event, Obama was doting on Harris, ‘noting a couple of times that she is, objectively, easy on the eyes.’
President Obama apologized for the distraction that his comments caused and his press secretary released a statement saying that the President ‘regretted’ the move.
Commentators both liberal and conservative immediately took to Twitter to blast his 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.
Added Rebecca Traister, writer for The New York Times Magazine and Salon, ‘On What planet in [Obama’s] mind did he think that sounded like the right thing to say?’
Obama’s supporters argue that the president and 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.
On Friday, press secretary Jay Carney made the first public reaction by the White House, saying: ‘He apologized for the remark. He certainly regretted the distraction. He believes that she is a superb AG.’
The President ‘did not want in any way to diminish the attorney general’s professional accomplishments and her capabilities.
‘He fully recognizes the challenges women continue to face in the workplace and that they should not be judged based on appearance,’ Mr Carney said.
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, the first lady 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, Obama said, before quickly correcting herself, ‘Or I shouldn’t say single – as a busy mother.’
Explaining her slip-up, she added, ‘Sometimes, you know when you’ve got the husband who’s president it can feel a little single. But he’s there.’
Ms Harris 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, she is the first Indian American attorney general in the country.
Her 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 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 her current romantic situation, except that she was in a serious relationship with the former mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown.
The two 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 Obama and Ms 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.
Read more: DailyMail