Carol Platt Liebau

It's been not at all troubling to me to watch President Obama be pilloried for having the temerity to comment on California Attorney General Kamala Harris' looks -- mostly because of the different standards to which Democrats and Republicans are routinely held on such "women's" topics by Democrats and the press.

Here's a news flash for worshippers in the Cult of Obama: The President is just a normal man.  Normal men notice women's looks.  And normal men reason -- not inaccurately -- that most women like to hear that they're attractive.  Only in elite lefty circles in this post-feminist era have there been attempts to codify an etiquette governing when it is politically correct to compliment a woman's appearance.

The whole episode was silly to the rational mind.  But note that President Obama called Harris to apologize for having complimented her (and we all know that the President doesn't apologize for anything but America with any frequency!).  It's not because Jonathan Chait or other lefties were incensed at his behavior.  It's because he recognized the danger to his political brand among the wider public in allowing this story to keep circulating.  

First, as the Washington Free Beacon points out, it plays into a dangerous image of Obama that already exists -- as Sexist-in-Chief -- based on the dearth of powerful women on his staff, the lower pay his female employees receive, the alleged "hostile environment" of the Obama White House, and more.  Obviously, had he been a Republican, the tension between these facts and the oft-invoked "war on women" supposedly waged by Obama's political opponents would be more widely circulated by the press and known by the public.  But the longer the story drags on, the greater the chance such stories would appear, and so Obama nipped it in the bud.

Second, a great part of Obama's likability stems from his image as a good family man.  Compared to Bill Clinton (and a host of other politicians!), he undoubtedly is one.  And there is no reason to believe that the President has ever been unfaithful to his wife.  But it's also worth acknowledging the particular dangers to President Obama that stem from any erosion of his image of being devoted to Michelle.  They both know that they represent an ideal to many of their supporters.  And no doubt they are aware of the unfair, ugly, racist, invidious old stereotype of "oversexed" black men.

But ultimately, the whole kerfuffle leaves me with a weary sense of how exhausting it must be to be a liberal.  The rules are so hard to follow! It's sexist to compliment AG Harris, but it's racist to criticize the President.   The President deserves scorn for praising a woman's looks, but an "actor" need suffer no repercussions as a result of crudely misogynistic, sexual tweets about Ann Romney and Jenna Ryan.  It's okay to compare voting to losing one's virginity, and to comment on the appearance of the presidential rear end, but commenting on the First Lady's bottom will get you criticized -- or even suspended. You can call Chris Christie "fat," "mean tweets" about Ann Romney's looks will get non-judgmental publicity, and insulting similes (some crude) about Paul Ryan's looks are run without criticism on Gawker.

Mentally . . . exhausting.  In the end, liberal thought seems easily reducible to nothing more than a hierarchy of victimhood, with a series of shifting "rules" selectively enforced by a self-appointed secular priesthood of liberal elites.


Carol Platt Liebau

Carol Platt Liebau is an attorney, political commentator and guest radio talk show host based near New York. Learn more about her new book, "Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Hurts Young Women (and America, Too!)" here.