The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

A Hostile Workplace? Under Rahm? Unthinkable!


In the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt . . .

Stunning: Female Staffers Feel Snubbed by President Who Calls Women ‘Sweetie’

The Washington Post reports, “Friction about the roles of women in the Obama White House grew so intense during the first two years of the president’s tenure that he was forced to take steps to reassure senior women on his staff that he valued their presence and their input. At a dinner in November 2009, several senior female aides complained directly to the president that men enjoyed greater access to him and often muscled them out of key policy discussions.”

Much of the stir comes from Anita Dunn telling author Ron Suskind that the Obama White House “actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.” Then she denied she said that, and then Suskind played a tape of her saying that, so . . . that’s pretty much all you need to know about Anita Dunn, along with her fondness for Mao.

Now, if there really was a hostile environment to women, that’s terrible. But I’m just going to go out on a limb and offer the insane theory that if you had to pick the group of people most prone to complaining that they’re being ignored and disrespected, you would probably pick a bunch of Democratic political staffers, lawyers, academics, apparatchiks and wonks, no? You’re telling me that if you had gone to the staffers who were African-American, or Jewish, or gay, or not from Chicago, or some other demographic distinction, and asked them, “Does the president listen enough to you and people like yourself, or are you sometimes snubbed?” it wouldn’t be that hard to generate some tales of indignation and woe? For a bunch of these folks, their entire worldview is based upon the patriarchy and the establishment keeping them down, and they can’t suppress those instincts of victimization just because they voted for the new boss. I suspect that upon entering the White House, a lot of folks find that their egos simultaneously swell and get more fragile. Then they’re put in a high-stress environment, where any error reflects badly on the munificent Sun-King, working extraordinarily long hours, convinced that the future of the country and/or liberalism depend on every move they make. Throw in a walking harassment-lawsuit-waiting-to-happen like Rahm Emanuel in a key role of leadership and you have the single most combustible working environment since the Hindenberg.

Still, this brouhaha is a useful marker of how our national expectations are changing. There as a time when Americans would be surprised if the White House wasn’t a hostile workplace for women. Then there was a time when Americans would be surprised if the White House as a hostile workplace for women. And at the current rate, in the near future, Americans will respond to reports like this by asking, “What’s a workplace?”

Michelle Malkin: “Seems like only yesterday the White House was basking in the glow of worldly feminists effusing over the president’s Grrrl Power governance. . . . Unfortunately for the rest of us, Obama compensated by elevating extremist radical women like Kathleen Sebelius, Jane Lubchenco, and Carol Browner — all of whom have employed Beltway business-as-usual tactics to run roughshod over the rule of law. In the end, Obama’s gals will be brass-knuckle boys to secure their agenda and power. It’s not just a “hostile workplace” for a few grumbling women left out in the cold. It’s a hostile workplace for all American taxpayers and job creators.”

Garance Franke-Ruta, a senior editor at The Atlantic, finds Treasury Secretary Tim Geither had some harsh words for his one-time White House colleague and Council of Economic Advisers chief Christina Romer, calling her “of no value on policy issues” of “financial rescue.”

Hey, hey, Timmy, take it easy on her. It’s not like you corrected that infamous chart on how the stimulus would affect the unemployment rate.

Back in 2008, I examined the 100 percent-sexism-free Democratic primary.

Tags: Barack Obama , Rahm Emanuel


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