Speaking at a Bay Area fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee, the president said Harris is “brilliant,” “dedicated” and “tough.” Then he added, “She also happens to be, by far, the best-looking attorney general.”
According to reports from the fundraiser, the crowd laughed and Obama said, “It’s true! C’mon.”
Some cringed at the remarks, given the historic hurdles women have faced to be recognized for their accomplishments rather than their looks.
Jonathan Chait, a writer for New York magazine, called Obama’s comments “disgraceful.”
“Women have a hard time being judged purely on their merits,” he wrote. “Discussing their appearance in the context of evaluating their job performance makes it worse.”
Over at the Washington Post, opinion writer Jonathan Capehart said Obama was only speaking “God’s honest truth,” and he emphasized that the president and Harris have been longtime friends and allies.
The president wasn’t “luridly cat-calling a woman he doesn’t know,” he wrote. “If I thought for one moment that’s what was going on, you better believe I’d hammer him for it. But that’s not the case here. Far from it. So lighten up, people.”
Meanwhile, the website Buzzfeed responded in typical form — with a photo list of the country’s “12 Hottest Attorneys General.”
– Chris Megerian, LA Times