Is Obama Using Sexist Language?

By Jaketapper

Feb 16, 2008 11:30am

Earlier this month, speaking at Tulane University, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, said this about the attacks coming his way from Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY:

"You challenge the status quo and suddenly the claws come out," Obama said.

The CLAWS come out? Really?

Then yesterday Obama told reporters who had asked about Clinton’s latest attack ad, "I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she’s feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal."

That prompted some female TV reporters to question the language he was using.

According to this unofficial transcript, over at MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell and Norah O’Donnell seemed to suggest Obama may have been — if not playing the gender card, then using language women voters might find offensive.

Language such as "when she’s feeling down" "periodically" she "launches attacks."

Nora O’Donnell: "He said, ‘I understand when she’s down, that she makes these kinds of attacks.’ It’s getting a little personal."

Andrea Mitchell: "It’s getting a little personal and, very frankly, you know how deeply we interpreted every comment to look for some sort of racial motivation before South Carolina. A lot of people said it was there. But, you know, when you start describing a female candidate as being ‘down’ and ‘striking back,’  I don’t know, that’s a little edgy, don’t you think?"

Nora O’Donnell: "Yeah. And I think there’s gonna be a lot more comments about that."*

Pro-Clinton blogger Taylor Marsh writes that words like this, in her view, indicate "a way of thinking about women. A way of demeaning women in power; even saying we’re not up to the job. Seriously, Senator Hillary Clinton is a woman running for president. Not some emotional menopausal diva popping pills because she’s depressed she broke a nail."

"Claws"…"feeling down"…I find it hard to envision Obama using the same language if he were facing, say, former Sen. John Edwards, D-NC.

But what do you think?

– jpt

*(Note: that is not an official MSNBC transcript)

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