President Obama, Kamala Harris and rules of complimenting women

The rules keep changing. We can't keep up. Yesterday's compliment is today's complaint. Photo: Kathleen Kane

NEW YORK, April 7, 2013 – President Obama last week angered many with his comments about California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Even Michelle Obama seems to have retaliated for the Presidential praise of the California attorney general.

Probably just coincidence, or Freudian Slip, but in an interview with CBS affiliate WCAX last Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama plumb forgot she was married. She said, “Believe me, as a busy single mother – or, I shouldn’t say single – as a busy mother.” Okay, she quickly corrected herself, but what’s-his-name still has some explaining to do.

These days, it seems all we’re doing is explaining and apologizing. Ever since Gloria Steinem declared that women need men as much as a fish needs a bicycle, men have been properly put in our place and keep trying to make amends for 20 million years of sexism. Do the math. Women’s lib only began a few decades ago.

Please, give us a chance to learn the rules. Give us a minute to catch our breath.

The rules do keep changing. We can’t keep up, as is evidenced by two hot commentaries along these pages, one for Obama’s “sexist” remark, the other against. 

It is folly for anyone to try to sort it out for the betterment of mankind (oops), but here is a reminder, anyway: A while back we were summoned to be gallant and chivalrous.

We were taught (most of us were) that girls and women were to be given flowers for their beauty of character and good looks.

Exactly what is wrong with this?

But one morning we were told that it is okay, even required, to tell a woman that she looks marvelous. Next morning, hey, we can go to jail for this!

Yesterday’s compliment is today’s complaint. We mean praise but get clobbered for making you feel “uncomfortable.”

We are finding this tough to follow.

If our culture has become so neutered, soon we may be forbidden from watching Guys and Dolls.

Forget South Pacific and that roaring number of gratitude, “there ain’t nothin’ like a dame.”

Granted, some men should be “fixed” (racetrack term for castration) but the normal American Joe is simply doing what comes naturally.

Dare we say the following in this climate of political correctness? Boys like girls.

Sometimes – and this does come as a shock – girls like boys.

That is how we make American babies. Love happens. Sex happens. Why the attraction? Don’t ask me. Ask God.

Someone suggested that women would be safer from sexist remarks if they dressed like men.

Do we want all our women to resemble Alan Colmes and Rush Limbaugh? Really?

Strangely, the conversation appears to include everybody except for the injured party, who does not seem to be injured at all. As scores of letters-to-the-editor denounce Obama, or denounce the denouncers, Ms. Harris hasn’t said word one about being upset, only that she strongly supports the president.

What did he say?

In addition to praising her character and achievements, “She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country…it’s true…come on.”

Not so sure about that, Mr. President. Around this neighborhood, we’ve got Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

She is dedicated and brilliant… and… and… good-looking, as good-looking as Kamala Harris.

It’s true. Come on!


Jack Engelhard, a novelist for such moral dilemma bestsellers as The Bathsheba Deadline, The Girls of Cincinnati, and the classic Indecent Proposal, his memoir Escape From Mount Moriah, and Slot Attendant – A Novel About A Novelist, Engelhard’s partly autobiographical expose about the trials of making it as a writer, brings his words to the Communities page covering all topics, with special focus on the absurdity of human behavior and reaches around the globe.

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Jack Engelhard

Jack Engelhard enjoys international fame as a novelist for such moral dilemma bestsellers as The Bathsheba Deadline, The Girls of Cincinnati, and the classic Indecent Proposal, which was turned into film starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. His memoir Escape From Mount Moriah has been acclaimed for excellence and a movie version was an official selection at CANNES. Slot Attendant – A Novel About A Novelist is Engelhard’s partly autobiographical expose about the trials of making it as a writer. Engelhard’s journalism covers all topics, with special focus on  the absurdity of human behavior, and reaches around the globe. He can be contacted at


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