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Barack Obama, Sexist! (?)

9:27 AM, May 20, 2008 • By DEAN BARNETT
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Yesterday I posted the news that Geraldine Ferraro may not vote for Barack Obama because of his "terribly sexist" ways. I mocked Ferraro's shrill claim of sexism, but I now realize that perceiving sexist activity is not a strength of mine.

Fortunately, a presumed Hillary supporter and definite Obama detractor emailed me with a list of all the hideously sexist things that the longtime community organizer has done on the campaign trail. I think you'll agree this bill of particulars is quite horrifying:

Obama is VERY sexist. The (New York Times) article (on aggrieved Hillary supporters of the fairer sex who won't vote for Obama) did a poor job of explaining it and the incidents haven't been widely reported by the Obama loving media.

My list of evidence:

1) Obama saying Hillary is "likable enough" during the NH debate and looking down his nose at her constantly.

2) Obama tells female factory worker in Allentown- "You look like you might be a dancer… You're gorgeous."

3) "Sen. Barack Obama approached first overflow in the parking lot outside of the Scranton town hall, and immediately went to Denise Mercuri, a pharmacist from Dunmore who was wearing a Hillary Clinton button. She held an Obama button in her hand, and he asked what he needed to do to get her to wear his instead of his rival's. "What do I need to do? Do you want me on my knees?" he asked. He then conceded, keeping with his flirty trend of the day (see earlier report), "I'll give you a kiss."

4) Jake Tapper's list of Obama's sexist references to Clinton such as "You challenge the status quo and suddenly the claws come out." and Language such as "when she's feeling down" "periodically" she "launches attacks."

5) Called a female report "sweetie" while ducking her question.

This is just my unofficial list. There's surely more if you look for it.

On second thought, this list is rather weak tea. I, too, look down my nose constantly at Hillary, but I assure you, it has nothing to do with sexism. I happen to look down my nose much more at her husband. My wife also looks down her nose at Hillary, and I'm pretty sure she by definition can't be a sexist (although she could be a self-loathing Gyno-American, I guess).

As for Obama's alleged flirtations, these strike me as either benign or boorish depending on the circumstances and your point of view. The only way they could be seen as sexist is if we're going to label all flirting a manifestation of sexism, and I don't think any of us want to go there. Think how dull office life would become!

The most damning charge against Obama is "Sweetie-gate," mentioned in item number 5. It is my understanding that feminists don't like being called "Sweetie." ("Kitten" and "Pussycat" should also be avoided.) In fact, the vast majority of women don't care for such terms of endearment.

What's strange about Obama's usage of "Sweetie" is how odd it is for men of his (and my) generation to talk in such a way. Our fathers and grandfathers may have used (and still use) such terms, and they may well have referred to their 60-something secretary as "my girl." But men of mine and Obama's age and background simply don't use and never have used such anachronistic language. Good luck finding a Harvard Law grad in his mid-40's who had a habit of calling his female colleagues at his white-shoe law firm "Sweetie."

So yes, Obama's use of the word "Sweetie" is odd, but is it sexism? A guy with Obama's background has surely seen many women of accomplishment whose track record of success dwarfs his own. Heck, he's married to one. It would be shocking if he looked down at women, as a sexist by definition does.

Is the feminist outrage justified? Again, I submit to you that Obama's real sin in the eyes of Hillary's feminist supporters is winning. Let's take another contender for the Democratic nomination for the purpose of comparison. Chris Dodd for a spell became a hero on the far left during the race. And yet Dodd has a record of alleged boorishness that far outclasses anything that Obama has been accused of. Google the term "waitress sandwich" if you don't believe me. And yet Dodd's presidential campaign never provoked any feminist ire. I guess it was easy to be indifferent since Dodd typically hovered around -3% in the polls.

Or try this as a thought experiment: If Hillary had won, how many of her currently embittered feminist supporters would have had a problem with Obama joining the ticket on the number two slot? I would guess darn few, in spite of Obama's terribly sexist ways. I bet they would find a way to view all the alleged "nose looking down" activity as just politics, and not a manifestation of Obama's deep-seated sexism.

But if there are any disappointed Hillary supporters reading this, don't let me discourage you from your righteous bitterness. After all, can a man who uses the term "Sweetie" really be trusted in the Oval Office? What will become of Title IX?