Conservative women’s groups see a double standard in the reaction--or lack of it--from the media and liberal feminists to President Barack Obama using terms such as “cute” to describe Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, but said they are not offended by his language.
However, the National Organization of Women has been mute on the matter.
NOW President Terry O’Neill, says spokeswoman Latoya Veal, did not have time to comment on the matter.
Over the course of three days, Veal attempted to schedule time for O’Neill to talk about the matter with CNSNews.com, but said O’Neill and other NOW officials are busy preparing for the group’s 2011 National Conference that will take place June 24-26 in Tampa.
However, Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, told CNSNews.com that Obama's descriptions of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz are not characteristic for a Democratic president.
“Of all people who ought to be offended at President Obama's statement it should be an ardent feminist like Wasserman-Schultz,” Wright told CNSNews.com. “Isn’t objectifying women by their looks a mortal sin among feminists?”
Obama recognized Wasserman Schultz while speaking Monday at a Democratic National Committee fundraising event held in a private home in Miami, part of the chairwoman’s congressional district.
“To Debbie Wasserman Schultz, thank you for letting me in your district,” the president said. “If you're in the foxhole, you want Debbie alongside you, because not only is she charming and has that dazzling smile, but she's tough as nails. And that’s what’s needed during challenging times.”
At another fundraiser that day at the Adrienne Arsht Center, Obama drew attention to what he called Wasserman Schultz's “cute smile.”
“What do you guys think of our new DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz?” the president asked the audience. “We are so thrilled to have her. You want Debbie on your side. She’s a mom, she’s got that cute smile and all that, but she is tough. Don’t mess with Debbie. We are so glad of her leadership.”
Though Obama's remarks were meant to be complimentary, feminists, the media and Democrats would have reacted differently if a conservative politician had said this, said Charlotte Hayes, a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.
“If a conservative had said this, they might have gone quite crazy,” Hayes told CNSNews.com. “The Democrats might have gone quite crazy and tried to have his head on a platter. I guess Democrats could get really mad because you say a woman has a charming smile.
“I’m not one of those people who gets mad if you said I have a charming smile. I would be flattered. For President Obama, if you’re on his side of the aisle, from a Democratic point of view, he probably shouldn’t have said that,” Hayes added.
Hayes stressed she doesn’t have a personal problem with what the president said, even calling it “chivalrous.”
“I think any time somebody says you have a charming smile, it’s great. If they follow it up by saying you are tough as nails, I can’t imagine a nicer compliment,” Hayes said. “You have to understand. I’m not a radical feminist. What I would be upset about is saying this is the toughest time in the world to be president.
“Gee, I’m not so sure about that. Then he talks about how he still wants high-speed rail, better known as high speed to debt. I think the fact that he called Debbie Wasserman Schultz charming or said she had a charming smile is the least of our worries,” she added.
Obama will likely get a pass for saying what might otherwise offend a radical feminist, said Alyssa Cardova, lecture director for the Claire Boothe Luce Public Policy Institute.
“I think it’s wonderful for women to embrace their femininity and be appreciated for beauty and a dazzling smile,” Cardova told CNSNews.com. “However, radical feminism and extreme political correctness have made this taboo. President Obama’s comments don’t bother me, but what is disturbing is the double standard that exists in the way the media treat liberals and conservatives.
“I know many conservative men who would never dream of commenting on or complimenting a female colleague’s appearance for fear of being accused of sexual harassment,” Cardova continued. “But the media will likely not touch this issue because it involves their beloved Obama.”
Describing Wasserman Schultz’s physical characteristics could compensate for her aggressive style, said Wright.
“It is curious that President Obama avoided any specific mention of Wasserman Schultz's performance in her new position,” Wright said. “Her caustic style and outrageous slanders have set a new low for even partisan politics.”
Wasserman Schultz has said of the Republican budget plan, “This plan would literally be a death trap for some seniors.” Further, she said that Republicans “want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws.”
By touting Wasserman Schultz as attractive and tough, Wright believes that Obama might be trying to make Wasserman Schultz the liberal version of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin or Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.).
“Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann are beautiful and tough, yet they are primarily known for fighting for the principles that make America great,” Wright said. “Perhaps President Obama is trying to make Wasserman Schultz the Democrat counterpart to Palin and Bachmann, but he overlooked the most important element of their appeal to Americans--their winning arguments, patriotism and charm.”