White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today that President Obama called California Attorney General Kamala Harris to apologize.
Obama made waves Thursday during a fundraiser in which he referred to Harris’ looks.
“You have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you’d want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake,” Obama said according to The Washington Post. “She also happens to be, by far, the best looking attorney general in the country.”
Carney said Obama called Harris last night right after the trip.
“He called her to apologize for the distraction created by his comments,” Carney said.
As soon as the comments became public, they were dissected everywhere.
They quote writer Zerlina Maxwell tweeting: “Men wondering why it’s not ok to comment on a woman’s looks whenever/whereever they want need to google ‘male privilege.’ Now.”
“[Harris] is beautiful — a beautiful black woman, to be exact,” she writes. “And none of us should apologize for celebrating that, including the president — who, for the record, is the best looking president our country has had.”
New York Magazine posted a piece that counts the many times Obama has referred to “important, accomplished men” good looking. He’s an “equal-opportunity flatterer.”
The magazine reports:
“Introducing HUD secretary Shaun Donovan last February, Obama declared, ‘There he is, the good-looking guy in the front here.’
“At a speech last March, Obama pointed out his secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, by calling him ‘a good-looking guy.’
“A couple of months ago, Obama gave a shout-out to the ‘outstanding Secretary of the Navy,’ Ray Mabus. ‘There he is right there — the good-looking guy over at the end.'”
So what do you think? Was Obama’s comment sexist? Is it ever OK for a man in power to compliment someone based on looks?
Update at 3:47 p.m. ET. Harris ‘Strongly Supports Him’:
Michael Falcone, ABC news deputy political director, tweets that Harris’ spokesperson said “They had a great conversation yesterday and she strongly supports him.”