I say this in the nicest possible way.Well, sure. She just doesn't mean it in the nicest possible way, though she tries like the dickens to act like she's not being, well, terribly sexist.
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.Well, that doesn't sound so bad does it? But that's not really what Parker's getting at. Obama's not like a woman because he talks things out. He's like a woman because he's ... passive.
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.
The masculine-coded context of the Oval Office poses special challenges, further exacerbated by a crisis that demands decisive action. It would appear that Obama tests Campbell's argument that "nothing prevents" men from appropriating women's style without negative consequences.
But being a "coalition builder" isn't really the same thing as being "passive." And Parker makes no attempt to show that it is. She'll get no argument from me that Barack Obama has failed to demonstrate better leadership in handling the gulf spill. But Parker has taken generalizations about the way men and women communicate, then fashioned her argument about Obama's "femaleness" based on evidence that has nothing to do with those generalizations.
The upshot is that she insults both the president and women without a good basis for doing so. I'll never say that conservative women can't be feminist. But Kathleen Parker hasn't really shown us how that's possible.