The major exception of respected woman in the White House has been Valerie Jarrett, but Obama likes her less for her sex than for her race, class, and similarly exotic biography. Also, as his wife’s old boss from the Daley Administration, Jarrett’s West Wing clout reassures the suspicious but slightly clueless First Lady.
By the way, has anybody noticed through the Comedy Blockade that the Obamas’ marital relationship rather curiously resembles that of old-fashioned radio comedies like The Bickersons, TV shows such as The Honeymooners and The Flintstones, or cartoon strips like The Lockhorns, in which the purported man of the house is in perpetual fear of upsetting his nagging helpmate (or his live-in mother-in-law), requiring him to sneak off for frequent rounds of relaxing golf?
Obama has never taken white feminists seriously. The only bit of feminist boilerplate I noticed in Obama’s 150,000-word memoir was a single clause within a long sentence. Indeed, resentment of his working mother and grandmother is a constant theme running through his pointedly entitled Dreams from My Father. You can tell how un-African-American Obama is by upbringing from his passive-aggressive sniping at his mother and grandmother, something that a normal black man just wouldn’t do.
Over the years, Obama’s treatment of his pioneering female bank executive grandmother, who paid for the bulk of his posh education, has been noteworthy in its nastiness. In his celebrated 2008 Philadelphia speech, for instance, he compared her to Rev. Jeremiah Wright over her supposed racism for wanting a ride to work because she feared being mugged by a black drifter who had been hassling her at the bus stop. This hurt the strapping youth’s feelings. Over a decade later in his memoir, he described the emotional impact on himself of his grandmother’s worries about her safety as a “fist in my stomach.”
In 2011, Obama took the opportunity of his one meeting with biographer David Maraniss to call attention to his grandmother’s “alcoholism” (see p. 287 of Barack Obama: The Story.) Thanks, Mr. President, glad you pointed that out for us so we can remember her that way. Classy.