Sunday, September 18, 2011

New book says women have been marginalized in Obama's White House.

Anita Dunn, the White House's former communications director, is quoted as saying the White House "fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women." (That's from this Washington Post article, which is based on excerpts of the book.)

The book also quotes an unnamed official saying that "the boys' club" was not "just Larry [Summers] and Rahm [Emanuel]," but that Obama himself was responsible: "The president has a real woman problem."

Dunn seems to have toned down her statements in an interview on Friday, saying the White House "was not a hostile environment."

Dunn added:

"The president is someone who when he goes home at night he goes home to house [sic] full of very strong women. He values having strong women around him."
This reminds me of Ross Perot's answer to a question in a presidential debate in 1992. (Transcript.) He was asked:
I acknowledge that all of you have women and ethnic minorities working for you and working with you. But when we look at the circle of the key people closest to you, your inner circle of advisers, we see white men only. Why? And when will that change?
Perot said:
Well, I come from the computer business, and everybody knows the women are more talented than the men. So we have a long history of having a lot of talented women. One of our first officers was a woman, the chief financial officer. She was a director. And it was so far back, it was considered so odd, and even though we were a tiny, little company at the time, it made all the national magazines.

But in terms of being influenced by women and being a minority, there they are right out there, my wife and my 4 beautiful daughters, and I just have 1 son, so he and I are surrounded by women, giving -- telling us what to do all the time.
In The War Room, an excellent documentary about Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign, you can see Clinton staff, including James Carville, watching that answer and laughing at Perot.

The book is Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President, by journalist Ron Suskind. It will be released on Tuesday.