Obama not giving women much of a lift
Word from the White House is that the president himself is demanding answers about the faces his staff is pushing forward. Unfortunately, he has only a bunch of white guys to offer an explanation of why the picture looks like a bunch of white guys.
Right from the start, the president who pledged “Change We Can Believe In” has been so cautious about change that there have been periodic eruptions from women and minorities.
Maybe Obama thinks he is such a huge change for the nation to digest that everything else must look like the Eisenhower administration, with Michelle obligingly playing Laura Petrie. But it’s Barry tripping over the ottoman.
In more “He’s Like Ike” moments, the president golfs in his free time with white male junior aides. The mood got sour early in the first term when senior female aides had a dinner to gripe directly to Obama about lack of access and getting elbowed out of big policy debates.
West Wing man cave
Some women around Obama, who say that he never empowers women to take charge of anything, are privately gratified at the latest kerfuffle, hoping it will shut down the West Wing man cave. It is particularly galling because he won re-election – and a record number of women ascended to Congress – on the strength of high-toned denunciations of the old-fangled Mitt Romney and the Republican kamikaze raid on women.
It may be because the president knows what a matriarchal world he himself lives in that he assumes we understand that the most trusted people in his life have been female – his wife, his daughters, his mother, his grandmother, his mother-in-law, his closest aide, Valerie.
This isn’t about how he feels, though, or what his comfort zone is or who’s in his line of sight. It’s about what he projects to the world – not to mention to his own daughters.
Obama is an insular man who is not as dependent on his staff as some other presidents. With no particular vision for his staff, he surrounds himself with guys who then hire their guy friends.
Most people who work in the top tier of campaigns are men; most people who work for Obama now were on his campaigns; ergo, most people in his inner circle are men.
Pretty soon, nobody’s thinking it through and going out of the way to reflect a world where daughters have the same opportunities as sons. And then the avatars of modernity hit the front page of the Times, looking just as backward as the pasty, patriarchal Republicans they mocked.