May 20 2012
This weekend, I was surprised to find an opinion piece in the New York Times by former CNN and NBC news anchor Campbell Brown with the headline, Obama: Stop Condescending to Women. Brown weighs in on the President's attempt to court women voters, starting with his recent commencement address at Barnard College. Brown argues that the President is missing the mark:
But the promise of his campaign four years ago has given way to something else — a failure to connect with tens of millions of Americans, many of them women, who feel economic opportunity is gone and are losing hope. In an effort to win them back, Mr. Obama is trying too hard. He’s employing a tone that can come across as grating and even condescending. He really ought to drop it. Most women don’t want to be patted on the head or treated as wards of the state. They simply want to be given a chance to succeed based on their talent and skills. To borrow a phrase from our president’s favorite president, Abraham Lincoln, they want “an open field and a fair chance.”
On the blog, many of us have written posts analyzing how President Obama is trying to reach women voters and specifically the moments of disconnect. For example, some of us have reiterated the importance of discussing economic issues as women care about economic issues. Ann Romney herself has been talking about the economy in speeches, which led to Hilary Rosen's infamous comment that Ann Romney "has actually never worked a day in her life." This was a moment of disconnect. Also, some of us have written about President Obama's recent Life of Julia campaign ad to try to reach women, which led to quite a backlash and seems to indicate a disconnect between the President and women voters.
Brown is astute to step back and look at President Obama's overall effort to speak to women. President Obama's presumed missteps might really be part of a fundamental misunderstanding by him of what women want from government and how women want to be treated by government.