"He encouraged me and supported me and thanked me for speaking out about the concerns of American women."—Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law school student who has been under attack by Rush Limbaugh for addressing Congressional Democrats on the president's contraception rule, describing the supportive phone call she received from President Obama earlier today.
Making the call was very generous of President Obama, and it clearly meant a great deal to Fluke, who deserves as much support as she can get. As a personal gesture, it was extraordinary.
But it was not merely a personal gesture: It was also a political gesture—"[MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell] received permission from the White House to discuss the exchange between Fluke and Obama" on her cable news show—and, as a political gesture, it is absolutely infuriating.
Fluke has been at the center of a national firestorm for days, which will almost certainly change her life in ways she hasn't even begun to understand, and she is no doubt being inundated with the ugliest threats imaginable, the severity of which she has no real capacity to evaluate, nor has she the means to protect herself against any potential serious threat, unless her family is wealthy and hasn't more urgent need for their resources than private security, all because she, a private citizen, still a college student, stood up and spoke on behalf of women.
And our President, the most fiercely guarded individual in possibly the entire world, who still has not given a single address dedicated to the issue of reproductive rights, who failed to mention reproductive rights in his State of the Union address, and who cannot even bring himself to include reproductive rights in his Women's History Month proclamation, instead calls Sandra Fluke to thank her "for speaking out about the concerns of American women," because he evidently has not considered the many ways in which treating the feminist/womanist fight for reproductive rights as "woman's work" is some fucked-up irony.