That has been brought into question by the White House decision to accept Alan Simpson’s “apology” for his offensive ans sexist letter to Ashley Carson of the Older Women’s League. Donna L. Wagner, President of the Older Women’s League, sent a letter to President Barack Obama calling for Mr. Simpson to be “canned” and questioning the Obama Administration’s stand on sexism and sexual discrimination.
OWL’s members believe that choosing to keep Mr. Simpson as your co-chair sends a message that your Administration does not take sexism seriously and also that you are not concerned about Mr. Simpson’s views regarding Social Security. There are a number of occasions where racial discrimination appeared both within government and elsewhere, and where your Administration acted swiftly and appropriately to correct wrongdoing. Why is one form of discrimination any different from another?
As Jane Hamsher says, “Ouch”.
This is looking like a pattern of sexism in this White House. While the President has several women in his cabinet, only Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, can really be considered a close advisor with daily contact and immediate access. Yes, he has successfully appointed two women to the Supreme Court neither is really a liberal nor will be counsel to Mr. Obama.
Dawn Johnsen’s nomination, a more than qualified lawyer to head the Office of Legal Council, was left to languish for 14 months before she withdrew her name in frustration. The administration opined that her appointment was held up by holds from Republican and Blue Dog Senators but when Mr. Obama proceeded to make several recess appointments, Ms. Johnsen was not among them. Why?
Then there is that little matter of the President’s Economic Advisor, Larry Summers and his Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner and that now has the appearance of an “Old Boys Club”. Summers’ history of sexism is well known and the primary reason he was forced to resign as President of Harvard. The resignation of Christina Romer from the Council after her sage advice about the stimulus package size was completely eliminated from the report to the President, her access to the Oval office limited, as well as, testy clashes with Summers, is consistent with Mr. Summers’ past behavior towards women. Mr. Geithner doesn’t fare much better. His condescending exchanges with Elizabeth Warren during hearings by the Congressional Oversight Panel on TARP, are revealing in his contemptuous tone.
As has been pointed out by others this was not Timothy Geithner’s “first clash with women in power”.
One of his first acts in the role of Treasury Secretary was to attempt to push out FDIC Chairwoman Shelia Bair. As Rep. Barney Frank observed: “I think part of the problem now, to be honest, is Sheila Bair has annoyed the ‘old boys’ club…we have several regulators up in the tree house with a ‘no girls allowed’ sign…”