Obama calls female reporter 'sweetie': The Swamp
The Swamp
Posted May 14, 2008 4:00 PM

The Swamp

by Frank James

Why did Sen. Barack Obama refer to a reporter during a Michigan campaign stop as "sweetie?"

Was it an attempt by the Democratic presidential candidate to show his affinity for blue-collar folks by attempting to sound like a waitress at a diner?

In the same vein, was he trying for a little machismo in front of the male workers at a Sterling, Michigan auto manufacturing plant he visited today?

Needless to say, a lot of women and even some men aren't going to like it. Some will interpret it as Obama being dismissive to the point of being somewhat sexist.

I'm not saying that's the correct interpretation, just that that's what some people will read into his term of endearment.

I expect an e-mail from the Clinton campaign in 10,9,8,7,6...

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You are right! I said in the other post, Obama has to be careful. He needs to get rid of her YESTERDAY. I blame the Superdelegates.

This has gotten rediculous. Clinton can spew racial remarks all week long, McSame can have tirades and melt down but these only get a measley mention?

Obama says one word and MSM pundits heads start spinning.

I expect an e-mail from the Clinton campaign in 10,9,8,7,6...Very funny. You might already have an e-mail responding to the Clinton campaign yet to be sent email from the Obama campaign in 10 9 8 7 6. I don't think that this is male chauvinism---maybe if he wanted to talk about her shoes like Isiah Thomas on his way out of the court room for his sexual harassment case when posed a question by a female reporter, but not this. This is equivalent to the fraternity pledging process--now there's a good story--what Presidential candidates have to do to blend in with the people on the campaign trail. Like ask for the nearest watering hole, down shots, milk cows, pick places to have tattoos, BBQ, ect ect ect....I think Frank James is looking to stir some trouble. Personally--I don't care for it.

"I'm not saying A THING, but, Hypothetically, all men and women should interpret it this way and be deeply offended. Not that I am, or anything. And futhermore, not that it's my goal or anything, but the Clinton campaign should take this ball and run with it. Did I mention I'm neutral on the topic?"

Why don't you just stop pretending to be a journalist and join the Clinton Campaign. At least then you could be nasty as you want and not look like such a hyppocrite.

Oh no, here we go again with another faux Obama controversay made up entirely by the Clinton cheerleaders.

Please, just go away already!

Well, maybe it was sexist--but I think it was just another example of the Obama's childish penchant for dodging questions from the press.
And the Obamas have habit of this.
That's the news angle.

Some change, huh? A woman being dismissively called "sweetie." Same old sexist politics to me. NARAL should be very proud of their choice. Lisa

He didn't wink while saying it. Thus, it doesn't count.

Translation "Hey, Clinton campaign, here's something you could interpret as offensive and spread around the media!"

I understand journalism sometimes is about digging up dirt, I'm just tired of watching you guys do the campaign's job for them by not just digging it up and reporting it, but providing the spin and rhetoric in one gift-wrapped package.

Do you guys even try to stick to reporting, or am I to presume you're all editorial writers now?

It's a colloquialism. Period. I expect he picked it up from his Kansas grandparents. Don't you remember when he said Barbara Boxer was "a real sweetie"? We also say, "What a sweetie!" when someone's done something really nice. Hardly an insult or a put-down.

I now return you to The Big Picture of the economy, heal care, Iraq, Iran, Burma, China....

Same old politics as usual..Super sexist..However it is not surprising given his elitist attitude...Instead of printing this lightweight article we should be hearing news from the media about vetting Obama...They have dropped the ball thru this entire election.....So much for the people have a right to know....HRC is the only person that can beat McCain....

What a condescending jerk.

"Sweetie, I'll get to you in a second.." She's not his sweetie, and he never did answer her question.

But come on, give the guy a break! He already answered, "like, eight questions" a few months ago. What do you expect in one campaign? I mean, a guy can only take just so much pressure. You gotta go easy on Obama, or the poor wee dear might have another hissy fit.

His flippant attitude is one of the reasons this lifelong Democrat is voting for John McCain. With age comes respect, I don't foresee him calling anyone sweetie, well, maybe his wife.

You guys are morons!!!! So what if he called her sweetie. Most people call each other that. No wonder idiots like you voted so overwhelmingly for Hillary, because you guys take issue with trivial things that don't matter.

Wow, what an interesting piece of news. I am soooo glad I navigated to this webpage. This is going to change my life for sure. Obama, booh, you're a Harvard educated man, elitist and sexist, we sure don't want no educated president in this country...

Seriously, it's just "sweetie". My dad, when he was a soccer coach, would call the male soccer players "buddy" and yes, even sometimes "sweetie" at times.

I seriously can't believe this is something to call attention to.

The fake outrage on here from the Clinton cheerleaders and their thug Republic Party friends is both predictable and laughable.
Smells like......hmmmm......smells like DESPERATION, to me.

Please.. It was an innocent comment and he seemed pretty nice about it. At least she doesn't have a dress with a stain on it that she's keeping in her closet. Please people, you forgive the Clintons so easily but your so quick to jump on Obama ALL the time. Give it a rest with the PC filter. Or use it on both sides.

What arrogance!

Who does Obama think he is talking down to women for the
second time weve seen on tape.

It shows his lack of class &

Can you imagine Franklin
Roosevelt saying something like that repeatedly?

GO Hillary......even as an independent candidate if necessary!

Perhaps he was just a little bit tired....after all, he's been campaigning in 57 states...with one still to go!
I wonder if he knows how to spell potato??

He can call me "sweetie" when I can call him "boy".

"term(s) of endearment" need to be kept to spouses and one's own children.

Obama should know better.

He also needs to stop trying to be George W. Bush. Bush was elected even though he is rich because he was "plain spoken." Americans want a president they can have a beer with, but if that's not who you are you can't fake it.

sure, and we also call grown men "boys" but only if they are african americans.

unless, that was his wife, his girlfriend or his child, a presidential candidate has no business calling a reporter "sweetie"

Was he wearing his flag pin?

If he was, then this is an offset. If he wasn't, then damn him and his condescending manner!!! Elitist!!!

Back to reality: this is a non issue. Period.

Valerie -- you need to watch yourself and make sure you hold down your bigoted ways when your daughter or son comes home w/ a honey-colored brotha or sister...
The time is coming, believe me.

Typical Frank James drivel...

Yes, Sen. Obama should be careful when he uses such "terms of endearment" because fake news people and columnists will certainly turn that tiny, miniscule molehill into a mountain because that is what passes for journalism these days. . .

Yeah and he already showed what a classy guy is because he called her and apologized. You holier than thou folks just wish you had an ounce of this guy's class. Forget about swiftboating this guy. He could call me sweetie any day of the week and I would be honored. Get a life you creeps.


Swamp is a good name for this forum. There is a lot of slime here. The guy has already apologized and in my opinion he didn't have to but it shows you the class this guy has. What a bunch or morons you holier than thou people are.

Obama being condescending and arrogant? Nothing new here.

Let's see . . . He's been caught calling two adult women "sweetie"; he threw his "white Grandmother' under the train to protect Rev. Wright; he dedicated his book to his father who abandoned him, instead of the single mother who raised him . . . . Hmmm

How many fingers am I holding up?

It would only take a fool to run with this nonsence /Should send people that are so petty to Iraq,Burma,China "s earthquate it would not only give them a job but also something constructive to discuss .
Even if to open a door or hold a door open for some people they in turn slam it your face .
I have had help even over the phone and told a guy you are a gem or lady thank you dear ,you have made my day and I would appreciate the same if I heard it.
The ones that are so negative and just looking ,searching for anything to grasp just Go get a life.

this is such a non-issue that it makes me..i dunno what it makes me...sleepy? Yes sleeeepy sleeeeeeepy, go to sleep. Close your eyes and go to sleeeep. Ignore things that matter, like Iraq, or the economy, or the oil monopoly, or even issues that matter to true feminism, like gender disparity. Lets make something from nothing, because a MAN had the gall to address you as something other than "Ma'am".

Get over it, sweetie. Was a time when men and women knew how to get along, and politely, with actual geniality and mutual candor. Now some women are on the headhunt for any form of self-perceived patronization. You WON the sexual revolution ladies, lets not seek a war of attrition. You can call me bubba if you like, I won't mind. I most certainly won't make a news story out of it.

Obama's comment is just another indication of his sexism. Even back in the 1980's when I was first ordained as a minister, other women ministers and I corrected male ministers who called us "darling" or "sweetie." The only person who can appropriately refer to me by those terms is my husband. Obama tries to present himself as the "candidate of change" and as so progressive, but his attitudes toward women are so backward and offensive. Wake up before it's too late, and elect Hillary. She is the person best qualified to be President!



If that's they best he can do, he doesn't deserve to be president. Obama needs lessons from me on how to handle women especially interns!


you people never give up.... if anyone believe Clinton and their murder machine.... then you will get what you deserve. race has nothing to do with anything, we all wear clothes the same way and eat the same way. we are no different from one another. stop the games!!!!

Saying "Sweetie" was so, well, "Chicago" of Senator Obama.

I moved here from Pittsburgh in 1990. I remember begin surprised when I would go to restaurants and the waitress would call me "Hon," "Honey," or "Sweetie." Turns out it's all over Chicago, too easily slips off our tongues.

I can see that it might sound odd to the ears of others outside the Chicagoland area, but, here, well, Sweetie, it's all the rage.

If people are worried about this, we are all nuts. BREAKING NEWS: Obama, Clinton, and McCain apologize for talking. We are all very sorry, we did not mean to offend anyone by talking. It is not normally like us to just talk. It was not appropriate and we will not do it again. This election should be about the important things, like what we look like when we sit arouind not talking. If anyone in our staff talks we will distance ourselves from them.

I don't know the reporters have been awfully sweet on him. Isn't his wife in PR maybe hes lonely

Obama was raised by an incredibly strong woman whom, if you read his books, he clearly loves and respected enormously. Marlene: he has said that the reason he wrote "Dreams of My Father" was because he was growing up half black and half white and it was about his struggle to form an identity. It had nothing to do with preferring one parent or disrespecting his mother or something like that--again, read the book. What he says about his mother is beautiful.

For another, I am a (white) woman. My mother is an extremely successful physician who dealt with an unbelievably amount of sexism in her time--male doctors sometimes refusing to work with her, etc. She agrees with me that it is absurd to think that Obama is sexist in even the smallest way based on this remark. One need not only look at his mother: take his wife, Michelle Obama. She is an extremely successful attorney, and she was his superior when they worked at the same law firm. Also, until a few years ago, she made a lot more money than he did. Plus, if you haven't noticed, she has a fairly strong personality. I highly doubt that a man who condescended to women in any way would marry a woman like that, or that a woman like that would marry and continue to support a man who condescended to women. He has a lot of women in his life whom he probably calls sweetie--wife, daughters, sister, etc.--and two or three times he has slipped up and used it when talking with a woman. Is it appropriate? No, and he should make every effort not to do it again because it gives the wrong impression. But to take it as a sign of sexism, given his family, his record of supporting women's rights, and everything else about him, seems rather silly to me.

Also, I find it offensive to say that calling women "sweetie" is the same as calling a black man "boy." There is no context in which calling a black man "boy" is not insanely racist and offensive. There are plenty of contexts in which "sweetie" forms a part of normal conversation, and while I definitely think he should really focus on not doing it again, such a slip hardly seems comparable to the use of a blatantly racist address.

I am an Obama supporter, but I admire many of Senator Clinton's qualities and would have voted for her had she won the nomination. So, please don't take the following question as in any way combative, I am simply curious: to anyone who is upset with Obama for this slip--what are your feelings about Senator Clinton's lies (I respect her in many ways, but she did inarguably lie) about Bosnia?

Only Rank James could say that there was any other way to interpret this other than a sexist comment. Imagine the furor there would be if a republican said this!
Beyond that Rank even COMPLETELY fails to mention that aside from insulting this woman with sexist language, Obama also lied to her. There was no "press avail" as he said. Why does Obama CONTINUE to believe he's above the questioning that the other candidates take daily?

I am truly concerned that there has been relatively little discussion about gender issues in the Democratic race for the White House. My concern is even greater after just seeing Senator Obama on a local Michigan television news program call a female reporter "sweetie" while touring a local Chrysler plant. I believe that true feelings come out in unguarded moments. I am a 48-year old woman and an attorney and frankly, I'm more than disappointed with the dearth of real discussion on the deeply ingrained gender bias in our society.

what would you prefer he call you? Stop making something out of nothing. Stop gender bating or racial bating. Is this your childhoodl vision of being a reporter. Obama's mother was a female and he is here. His grandmother is a female and he is here. His wife is a female and he is married. His daughters are females and he's dad. Wake up america, it's the same old division of politics and the reporters have jumped on the band wagon. American's you are your best reporters to the truth and what matters. Who am I?
A single mom of three who stands on the issues that matter. I vote Obama and it's time to unify and move forward.
If the repoter were that sensitive she would not have chosen to be a reporter.

Any woman can explain how seriously DEMEANING it is to be called "sweetie" while she's performing her professional duties. This is similar to calling a man "sonnie" under the same circumstances. I could make another analogy to a particular insult that used to be directed at black men, but I don't want to, in any way, imply that slavery was synonymous with (although it was, in certain ways, similar to) the suffering of women under a (formerly) patriarchal system. Obama's apology found him on the verge of yet another error. If I'm not mistaken, he caught himself before he blurted out that this is what he calls his daughters. I guarantee it. The pause gave it away that he very nearly made another gaff, but he stopped himself in time. I don't know this reporter, but I'd be willing to wager that she's young. Obama has a bad habit (depending upon your point of view) of accidentally revealing his TRUE feelings, attitudes, and beliefs, and then making a lame apology later. That is, whenever he doesn't catch himself before he makes the gaff in the first place. I've noticed this sexist attitude of his before, if only in the way that he LOOKS at his opponent. It's very similar to the elitist attitude that he accidentally revealed towards those "bitter" voters in PA. If Hillary doesn't make an issue of this, then she's a bigger fool than I thought. Needless to say, I don't support either of them.

Obama has said on national TV that he is not perfact, he has made mistakes and unfortunately will probably make a mistake again. You nor anyone else in the human flesh is perfect. Only God is perfect! Those of you who have a conscious and truly honest that you have not made a regreattable mistake, cast the first stone. Be careful God is watching you.

Obama sure knows how to make friends and influence people!

I think he will be SOOOOO grand at being nice with Putin, Hu Jintao, and Ahmadinejad.

"Hold on, sweetie, you know you really shouldn't be building those nuclear weapons... Why don't you just sit down and not worry your pretty little head about these things?"

That boy's sure lost this sweetie's vote.

Wow this is amazing, I am a (white) woman that supports Hillary that lives in the south, we use terms of endearment with strangers all the time, no offense is meant and it doesn't become habit. Yes he should work on not doing it but I don't think it is THAT big of an issue, my issue would be why didn't he answer the question. He realized his mistake and appologized to the lady for the slip but why hasn't he answered her question. Lets get to the real issues what is he going to do for us ALL of us if he is elected into office. You have to give the man credit at least he CAN speak and that is much more than we can say about the one we have now. We need answers to the real issues our country is facing.


I mean to say it "does" become a habit correction to previous message

Sweetie is a use for close relatives only, otherwise it is sexist. I guess if I called him son or boy, there would be an outrage.

more non sense shoot in my eyes i would love hearing obama call me sweetie!!!! =] lol quit over reacting people and lets focus on real issues!! and whats next??? he gets called out for sneezing during a speach??? idiots

Seriously.. I think Obama is not the right choice for a president, I think he just isn't "presidential material". A nice man, well spoken, etc.. but the American People are so stupid. Hasn't anyone gotten it yet??? It's the MEDIA that elects the president..if they like you.. you get good press, if they don't then you don't and American's are such morons that we sit back and let the media tell us who to vote for and why!! "Sweetie" shouldn't be an issue at all, neither should have Howard Dean's cheer.. but they made it a big deal and virtually ruined him over it, running it over and over and over again! My fellow American's.. stoping buying into this crap.. stop letting the media sway your ability to think.. take a look at how stupid many American's have come.. if Oprah Winfrey reads a book and then says it on the air, everyone then goes and buys the book! Since when did we stop thinking for ourselves and vote with our own minds and opinions! I'm a Hillary fan myself but notice the media gives her half the airtime.. I used to have a boss call me "sweetie", it is very demeaning.. however, I will vote for Obama if Hillary doesn't get the nomination.. it's more a figure of speech than an outright attempt to humiliate someone. Grow up all of you and get an opinion not fed by the TV set!

I have, on more than one occasion, referred to both male and female students of mine as "sweetheart," "sweetie," or "honey," and I frequently refer to my students collectively as "you guys." I believe these are bad habits, but they are colloquial expressions long ingrained. My use of the terms in no way represent any overt sexist sentiment on my behalf (although it's possible that the fact that these are such a natural part of my language could represent my having grown up in a sexist culture). For the record, I am a woman, and I *don't* like being called "sweetie," "honey," "baby," etc. when it's clearly dismissive or sexist. But I recognize the difference between a "don't worry your pretty little head" and a colloquial use of a friendly term. It doesn't mean that we shouldn't be careful and respectful, but it does mean that there isn't necessarily any malice in the word itself.

For the record, when Obama found out that the reporter was upset, he called her and apologized personally. That's the proper response, and should be the end of this "story."

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