Toni Morrison famously labeled Bill Clinton the first black president. If that's the case, says Kathleen Parker in the Washington Post, then "Barack Obama may be our first woman president." Why? Because of the "testosterone deficit" in his reaction to crises. Men tend to turn problems into competitions or fights, while women "form circles and talk it out, writes the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. That's exactly how Obama reacted to the Gulf oil spill, and he's been hammered for it. Does Parker's gender-bending analysis offer any real insight into the president's actions?
These gender stereotypes are absurd: Parker's article is "insulting" to people of both genders, says Mary C. Curtis at Politics Daily. Stereotyping women as "nurturing consensus-builders" and men as "take-charge, orders-barking Alpha male" types is reductive. By all means, criticize the president for his "policy or demeanor." But "emasculating him based on worn-out stereotypes is depressing."
"Obama's a woman? Bill Clinton's black? Why can't we be ourselves?"
And stereotypes aside, her argument doesn't make sense: Even if you accept the argument that being "chatty" rather than decisive means being womanly, says Taylor Marsh at her blog, Parker's argument is flawed. What about Obama's "national security hawk decisions," the "tough sacking" of General McChrystal, or his "cagey" appointment of General Petraeus? Obama's failure over the oil spill was nothing to do with so-called feminine rhetoric. It was just "bad leadership."
Clearly, the media still hasn't figured out who Obama is yet: This is just the media's latest attempt to clarify "exactly who Obama is" says Glynnis MacNicol at Mediaite. The president's role in the national storyline is still a frustrating "grey area," and so columnists like Parker make "trite comparisons" like this to fill in "empty coverage space." Is this the level of analysis we can expect from Parker on her new CNN show?
"CNN's new 8pm co-host thinks Obama's problem is he talks like a girl"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The Obama administration's nonstop incoherence on ISIS
- This is what happens when Republicans actually enact their radical agenda
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 6 super-helpful iOS8 tricks you probably don't know about
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why so many Christians won't back down on gay marriage
- How I dug myself out of debt — and stayed that way
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- The European Union was supposed to end nationalism. It gave it new life instead.
Subscribe to the Week