Obama: White House Fraternity President
Fit to print: President Obama's new "Inner Circle Has an All-male Look."
Good for The New York Times. Obama, not so much, not for the women who essentially elected him. In a sudden moment of truth, Barack Obama is a man's man.
With canary-like Secretary Hillary Clinton flying from the Cabinet, this truth became self-evident. The picture shows a dozen men in the Oval Office in a huddle. The president is at his desk, liking the look of his new team. Just like his weekly hoops games — the circle closest to the sun. There are no women in the room.
Just when women are members of Congress in record numbers, White House diversity is drying up. Hilda Solis, the secretary of labor, and Lisa Jackson, the EPA administrator, announced plans to leave. There will be no woman heading the plum Justice, State, Defense or Treasury Departments. Obama's top advisors are almost all men, and likely to remain so. The woman he considered for a top job, Susan Rice, wasn't up to the job.
For all his silky manners, family history, his wife and daughters, Obama is not a woman's man. He's a fraternity president.
His lyrical memoir, "Dreams From My Father," conjures a man across oceans he barely knew, not the brave, original woman who raised him with the help of her parents. That's a clue.
Just saying, he ain't no Bubba. Has Obama cracked a book by novelists Jane Austen or Virginia Woolf? I don't think so. Does he love Judy Collins singing "Chelsea Morning"? Nope. Did he marry the brilliant woman who became the greatest of her generation? Not so far.
President Bill Clinton is the exception among presidents — although Franklin D. Roosevelt wed the extraordinary Eleanor.
So we fondly hoped he could have run for a third or fourth term. (Think about the state of the nation in 2008, feeling the pain of George W. Bush's presidency.)
Women felt Clinton knew and understood us and our life stories. The son of a widowed nurse who married a man who became abusive, he had personal laser-beam insight into economic fairness and domestic struggles. The first bill he signed is often forgotten because we take it for granted. The Family Medical Leave Act benefited working mothers more than any other group.
And we knew he enjoys our company. Despite Clinton's character flaws revealed in the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, there's a school of thought that he suffered enough for that. What happened was pretty tame next to starting wars on false premises. The liaison didn't violate the Constitution. Without defending his conduct, he and his family suffered enough to make his enemies happy for life.
Those House Republicans — yes, same gang with different faces, including troublemaker Lindsey Graham — turned the impeachment into "The Scarlet Letter," revisited, till it turned out their own leaders were even more guilty. Had they no shame?
Men who put women first are seldom seen in the Oval Office. Name one, any one — Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower and the two Bushes. They were predisposed to the concerns and company of men, masculine pursuits such as war, the law, slave plantations and, um, baseball teams. Lincoln, my favorite, was very much a man's man. Men were running the country over the centuries, and guess what, they still are.
Just ask Barack Obama.
To find out more about Jamie Stiehm, and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com
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