Barack Obama has a “bad habit” of addressing “all kinds of people” as “Sweetie” in casual conversation, although he’s trying to quit.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama has apologized to WXYZ reporter Peggy Agar for calling her “sweetie” during a campaign stop Wednesday in Sterling Heights.
Obama apologized in a voicemail he left on Agar’s cell phone at 3:16 p.m:
“Hi Peggy. This is Barack Obama. I’m calling to apologize on two fronts. One was you didn’t get your question answered and I apologize. I thought that we had set up interviews with all the local stations. I guess we got it with your station but you weren’t the reporter that got the interview. And so, I broke my word. I apologize for that and I will make up for it.
“Second apology is for using the word ‘sweetie.’ That’s a bad habit of mine. I do it sometimes with all kinds of people. I mean no disrespect and so I am duly chastened on that front. Feel free to call me back. I expect that my press team will be happy to try to make it up to you whenever we are in Detroit next.”
Here’s a video of the incident:
My initial reaction to this is bemusement that a journalist would truly be offended by being referred to as “Sweetie.” I mean, sure, it’s gender specific and he wouldn’t call a male reporter “Sweetie,” but it’s not exactly disparaging. And maybe he calls the guys “Slick” or something.
A quick perusal of the chickosphere, though, leads me to believe this is a bigger deal than that. BDBlue snarks:
Yeah, this guy is going to wear really well for another six months. Let’s see, he’s insulted white working class voters, lectured pro-choice forces on about how they don’t understand the moral choices of abortion, and now for the second time, he’s called a woman he doesn’t know “sweetie.” I’d say not only is Obama not asking for my vote, he’s going out of his way to make sure he doesn’t get it.
She also guesses Obama wouldn’t call Mike Tyson, “Sweetie.” (Insert prison joke here.)
Ann Althouse wonders if he’ll address Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in that manner. While it would be rather amusing, I’m guessing she’s right as to the implied answer of her rhetorical question.
Kate Harding, who Obama probably would call “Sweetie” if he weren’t giving that habit up, is likewise unimpressed, entitling her post “Tell Me He Did Not Really Say This.” Sorry, Sweetie, he did.
Many dudes are weighing in on this one, too. Matt Bastard (which I’m guessing is a pseudonym) appears to have a degree in Women’s Studies.
Jesus tapdancing Christ. You wanna know how to better help make the case that you deserve the support of women? Step 1: DON’T BE A SEXIST ASSHAT.
Look, intent is irrelevant—habitually using reductive terms like “sweetie’ is both disrespectful and indicative that Obama may have a bigger problem with women than simply not getting their votes, regardless of whether his actions are conscious or otherwise. Not to say that this sort of thing is unique (gee, a man says something misogynistic and dismissive to a woman—film at 11!), nor is it definitive proof that Obama actively perpetuates misogyny (does anyone seriously think that Geraldine Ferraro burns crosses in her free time?)
AllahPundit thinks Obama’s main mistake was “dropp[ing] this on the one member of the media who wouldn’t coo and squeal like an infant at being addressed by him this way.” He incorrectly predicts that the Left will ignore Obama’s comments, even though they’d be all over John McCain if he’d done this.
Robert Farley observes that he couldn’t get away with doing this as a teacher.
When I say that I would face sanction for calling a woman “sweetie” in class, I’m dead serious; even if the woman weren’t offended, it would still be inappropriate and reflect a poor classroom environment. This isn’t dread “political correctness”. “Sweetie” is belittling in a way that “buddy” really isn’t, and it really shouldn’t be used in any kind of professional setting, except perhaps between those who are exceptionally familiar.
Jules Crittenden ain’t buying it but nonetheless thinks turnabout is fair play.
[W]hen you think about it, if everyone else is getting whacked for being racist on Obama no matter what they say, he might as well just take the sexist hit like a man.
Of course, the phrase “like a man” is considered sexist, too. Although maybe Jules is thinking of the ironic song of that name by Confederate Railroad. Or just being sarcastic. Who knows these days?
Frank James tries to figure Obama’s angle.
Was it an attempt by the Democratic presidential candidate to show his affinity for blue-collar folks by attempting to sound like a waitress at a diner?
In the same vein, was he trying for a little machismo in front of the male workers at a Sterling, Michigan auto manufacturing plant he visited today?
Needless to say, a lot of women and even some men aren’t going to like it. Some will interpret it as Obama being dismissive to the point of being somewhat sexist.
On yesterday’s installment of OTB Radio, Dodd Harris argued that the Democrats may well have buyers’ remorse at the end of this process, wishing they’d nominated Hillary Clinton instead. Why? Incidents like this. For all Obama’s brains, charm, and charisma, he’s still a rookie on the national stage. As he continues to wear down from the longest, most grueling presidential campaign in American history, we’re likely to see more of this.
I continue to wonder whether any of this will matter in the end, though. The GOP brand is in its worst shape since Watergate and John McCain isn’t exactly Ronald Reagan. Then again, it’s increasingly clear that Obama isn’t exactly Jack Kennedy, either.
A tangential aside: Almost every account of this I’ve seen has it as “sweetie” rather than “Sweetie.” But isn’t Obama using it as a nickname rather than a descriptive? He’s not saying, “You sure are a sweetie” but rather using “Sweetie” as a substitute for a proper noun. Shouldn’t it therefore be rendered in the upper case?