So President Obama, in a discussion with the House Democratic caucus today, defended Larry Summers. I find it interesting what he addressed, and even more interesting what he didn't address:
According to Mr. Connolly’s account, the president described Mr. Summers as a rock of stability who deserved credit for helping steer the American economy back from the financial crisis of 2008 and the ensuing recession. Mr. Obama, Mr. Connolly said, singled out the negative coverage of Mr. Summers in The Huffington Post.
The president, Mr. Connolly said, emphasized that he had not made a decision on the next Fed chairman, adding, “I’m not even close to making that choice.” He did not address the criticism of Mr. Summers over his record on women’s issues, which have dogged him throughout his career.
I don't like his defense of Summers' economic policy. Liss has previously addressed why Larry Summers is a garbage nightmare for BOTH his policy decisions and his "record on women's issues." I'm simply going to add: it is ALSO problematic in the extreme for President Obama to completely ignore Mr. Summers' prejudices against one-half of the human population, and the way he has actively carried out those prejudices in the White House itself.
Am I to take away that those concerns are not worth addressing, while his economic policy is a "real" issue? Are the feminists and their allies who have repeatedly brought up Summer's rank sexism not even worth replying to-- or listening to? Is preserving Mr. Summers' good will is more important than speaking up for women's rights? Maybe it's all part of the Triple-Tri-D Vulcan Political Chess Olympics. I don't know.
But I do know that social justice has seldom been achieved by simply not talking about the problem. It means something when powerful men criticize and condemn misogyny. It would mean a great deal to hear the President address it now. It would mean something to every woman who's ever dealt with rank misogynistic asshattery of the Summers kind. To women who have lost a job, or abandoned a dream, or suffered ill-health, because privileged men like Summers get away, again and again, with their bullshit.
I didn't need to hear it addressed in great detail, just with great sincerity. Speaking only for myself, I would have been glad to hear: "I cannot comment on any particular incidents in this venue. I can say that I unreservedly condemn all discrimination against women, and am taking concerns in this regard quite seriously during the decision-making process."
Because it also means something when powerful men remain silent. And that second meaning is not good. I expect more, Mr. President.