President Obama has a lot of firsts under his belt, but this is a new one: the "first woman president." Which explains why many American don't trust him. So argues conservative pundit Kathleen Parker in her Wednesday column in the Washington Post. She insists she isn't arguing he's a "girlie president," rather, "he may be suffering a rhetorical-testosterone deficit when it comes to dealing with crises."
On the one hand, the fact that President Obama has feminine attributes demonstrates "evolutionary achievement," Parker hedges. But that's not doing him any favors when it comes to reassuring Americans about the oil spill in the Gulf.
Generally speaking, men and women communicate differently. Women tend to be coalition builders rather than mavericks (with the occasional rogue exception). While men seek ways to measure themselves against others, for reasons requiring no elaboration, women form circles and talk it out.
Obama is a chatterbox who makes Alan Alda look like Genghis Khan.The BP oil crisis has offered a textbook case of how Obama's rhetorical style has impeded his effectiveness. The president may not have had the ability to "plug the damn hole," as he put it in one of his manlier outbursts. No one expected him to don his wetsuit and dive into the gulf, but he did have the authority to intervene immediately and he didn't. Instead, he deferred to BP, weighing, considering, even delivering jokes to the White House Correspondents' Association dinner when he should have been on Air Force One to the Louisiana coast.
His lack of immediate, commanding action was perceived as a lack of leadership because, well, it was. When he finally addressed the nation on day 56 (!) of the crisis, Obama's speech featured 13 percent passive-voice constructions, the highest level measured in any major presidential address this century, according to the Global Language Monitor, which tracks and analyzes language.
...Obama may prove to be our first male president who pays a political price for acting too much like a woman.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.