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The Debate Over Obama’s Boys’ Club Resurfaces

President Barack Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office, Jan. 8, 2013. Attending, from left, are: Kathryn Ruemmler, Counsel to the President; Mike Froman, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics; Chief of Staff Jack Lew; Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett; Counselor to the President Pete Rouse; Nancy-Ann DeParle, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy; Senior Advisor David Plouffe; and Director of Communications Dan Pfeiffer. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

WAKING UP every day and listening to the acrimony on morning political shows, represented today through “Morning Joe,” is bound to color the rest of your day. How can it not? The conversation is toxic on most the cable channels, which ratchets up when the conversation turns to the continued minority of women who hold leading positions in American politics.

Mika’s charge today that Scarborough is “chauvinistic” doesn’t stand alone.

However, it’s remarkable that Katy Kay is still going back to Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” at this point, but it does reveal the hyper partisan bias of most in the media. Romney lost, it’s time to move on and hold the current political class accountable. All you need to do is look to Speaker Boehner and the House Republican disparity of females, which was recently on display when not one woman held chairperson positions.

That’s one reason people are more likely to give President Obama a pass. Comparing the big two parties there’s no comparison.

So, about President Obama’s boys’ club, which is becoming more visible as we get closer to his inauguration, with the latest to leave his Administration Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. It’s not a new event, folks. The Obama administration has been a boys’ club for a while, as has been written about in the New York Times and beyond. Remember Anita Dunn? Christina Romer’s said “I felt like a piece of meat.” This reality made it into popular books on the Administration.

‘The president has a real woman problem’ was the assessment of another high-ranking female official. ‘The idea of the boys’ club being just Larry and Rahm isn’t fair. He [Obama] was just as responsible himself.’ … ‘[L]ooking back,’ recalled Anita Dunn, when asked about it nearly two years later, ‘this place would be in court for a hostile workplace … Because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.’” — Mike Allen

That doesn’t mean the President doesn’t have close advisers who are women. Valerie Jarrett is not a potted plant, nor is First Lady Michelle Obama, who is actually influential with her husband. It’s not a coincidence that the photo above was released recently, showing Kathryn Ruemmler, Counsel to the President, and Nancy-Ann DeParle, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy.

Then there’s the policies President Obama has championed, even if he’s not been a very good friend to labor. Minus the Plan B decision that was wholly political, as well as codifying Hyde into health care law, Obamacare helps a lot of women get access to reproductive health care and other services. Lily Ledbetter Act isn’t nothing and is also something Republicans didn’t support. Nor did Republicans support the reproductive action embedded in Obamacare.

One of the most hostile things President Obama has openly stated he intends to do, which hurts women the most, is carve away entitlements, especially Social Security. This is a program more elderly women rely on than any other. This matters more than whether Obama’s White House boys’ club bothers people’s sensibilities, especially considering Republicans are openly hostile to policies that help modern women.

Research from IWPR has shown the current Social Security program is a mainstay for women, and these findings have been supported by research from other organizations. Adult women are 51 percent (27 million) of all beneficiaries, including retirees, the disabled, and the survivors of deceased workers (52.5 million). Women are more likely to rely on Social Security because they have fewer alternative sources of income, often outlive their husbands, and are more likely to be left to rear children when their husbands die or become permanently disabled. Moreover, due to the recession many women have lost home equity and savings to failing markets. Older women–and older low income populations in general–have become more economically vulnerable and dependent on Social Security benefits. — IWPR [via "FT: Obama’s Planned Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security" in 2011]

As for the boys’ club look of the Administration, it’s no secret that Obama’s got one and always has. Starting his second term in office, his last, it’s also obvious that he’s going to surround himself with his pals, people he likes and he feels most comfortable around. That’s not exactly an odd event.

But President Obama has earned the criticism over the makeup of his cabinet. No one should give him cover, especially not journalists. But in America, that’s what you’re going to get. Our media takes sides all the time, weighing in on behalf of the party they prefer.

However, considering what Republicans today offer where women are concerned, why anyone is surprised that talking heads and the media are taking Obama’s side is pretty extraordinary. How in the world can anyone support Republicans today where women are concerned?

Like people’s vote in November, it’s not that hard to give Obama a pass when the alternative is today’s Republican Party, who believes freedom is just for men, including economic equality.

Women’s equality remains a battlefield and we’re losing, no matter your political party.

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9 Responses to The Debate Over Obama’s Boys’ Club Resurfaces

  1. Jell-OH Schott January 10, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    Great post Taylor. If only the commentary on MJ this morning could have been half of thoughtful and mature. Joe can be so small at times.

  2. Cujo359 January 10, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    “The conversation is toxic on most the cable channels,”

    Not to mention misinformed…

    The bottom line here is that women have gotten what they’re going to get out of Obama, as is true of every other group not favored by his administration, like the poor, the middle class, religious and racial minorities, and anyone who values our rights. He doesn’t have to be re-elected now, so any effective pressure will have to be aimed at his allies and supporters.

    When he got your vote, you lost all leverage with him.

    Still, that doesn’t absolve the press from reporting things accurately, even when it makes their favored party look bad. They just make this problem worse by not informing voters before they vote.

    One of the things I’ve hated about traveling in the last few years is the prevalence of TVs in hotel breakfast rooms. Inevitably, one is subjected to one of the vapid “morning shows” while trying to eat breakfast. I’m amazed I didn’t lose weight every time I was on the road. But it seems America loves this form of infotainment, which probably tells you a lot about why we are where we are these days.

    • ladywalker68 January 10, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

      Agreed. And this with a “dumbing down” of shows that used to be “smarter.” When it first started, Animal Planet was “soft” and informative. I hardly recognize it today …it seems as if they have opted out for the grossest extremes they can find aka a survivor mentality, the lame Searching for Bigfoot, the horrors of tiny bugs that can invade your system, animal hoarding night mares, the worst level of drivel imaginable.

      Even the Discovery and Science channels have their versions of “Survivor” shows and I am trying to figure out how stuff like “Fringe” and “Dark Matters” qualify for Science Channel topics, unless of course Science is stretched to include science fiction… yech.

      • Cujo359 January 10, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

        Wasn’t the Science Channel showing Firefly at one time? I remember that show was on something allegedly educational. Heck, at least that show was good science fiction, but it was still fiction, and not terribly related to science.

        • ladywalker68 January 10, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

          Yes! It was showing Firefly and in fact it still might be. I know it was listed in the line-up not too long ago.

  3. jjamele January 10, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    Not to mention the “History” channel….

    • Cujo359 January 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

      (from the link)

      “It’s really depressing when your odds of finding a HISTORY program on The History Channel are only slightly better than your odds of finding a music video on MTV.”

      I think I should apply for a grant to do a statistical survey of how quickly cable TV channels become predominately something other than what their titles imply they ought to be.

      Anyway, we’ve now explored two more of the many reasons I don’t have cable TV.

      • ladywalker68 January 10, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

        I have satellite which offers the same junk. The things are mostly watch are Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, Betty White’s Hot in Cleveland, re-runs of Frazier and the Golden Girls, and Turner Classic Movie Channel.

        You can have pretty much everything else…

  4. Cujo359 January 10, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    BTW, I thought that looked wrong – it’s Christina Romer.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong