All In   |  April 05, 2013

Obama’s comments about Calif. Attorney General’s looks spark controversy

President Obama has apologized for calling California Attorney General Kamala Harris the "best looking" attorney general. Chris Hayes discusses the gender politics of Obama's statements with Nancy Northup, Zerlina Maxwell, Eesha Pandit, and Karen Hunter.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> just to put a button on this. there is a lot more to talk about. but there are statistics from sexually active women from ages 15 to 44. it used to be prescription all wait through, then the fda process which has been lit gatd going back to the bush administration . that it becomes more available. more people can use it. can we talk about this line. it is kind of lame but whatever. i hate the genre of someone said something and let's jump on the thing that someone said. even when it is right wing saying crazy things. i try to stay out of that genre. the president is talking about she is brilliant, dedicated, tough and the best looking attorney general. it's true. come on. a friend of the president. i thought it was interesting that the defense of this. here is gretchen carlson on fox news defending those comments. take a look.

>> yeah, big deal . yeah, she is. she does happen to be good looking. i just think we have come to a place in society where everyone is so ultimately sensitive that you can't say anything any more. she is, she's pretty. so what.

>> and dillon buyers of politico. how did it become so difficult to call a woman good looking in public? how did it?

>> because i'm a human being and not an object for male attention and male desire. and i think that the key with carmella harris, there are a million things you can say about her that don't have to to do with what she looks like. the president started out about how she is brilliant, hardworking. talk about her job, what is relevant to the conversation.

>> president pl president, you can call me the best looking contributor to msnbc any day of the week. i mean, really?

>> please.

>> yeah, here is what i care the most about. what i care the most about is how many women the president has in his administration, what they are doing, how he talks about them. i think it was in poor taste and, you know, annoying that this is what is happening. but i think it is telling, right? this is how men talk about women . this is how all of us talk about women .

>> it is how all of us talk about women . very good point.

>> it is not surprising it comes through in this political context. both of those things can be true. it is not the worst thing he's ever done. but i care much more about women who are in policy, positions, and who have power and what they are doing and how he talks about them and their mind.

>> and whether he will appeal --

>> good point. sometimes the conversation about this white house with respect to women , moves on two different tracks, right? there is the genre of the harris stuff. the genre is it a boy's club inside the west wing . and where the administration has been on the substantive things.

>> so when you have the con ver -- that's the one -- that would be the place to take this discussion, right?

>> take it there. we're on television --

>> we talk pictures of the white house and saw all those men in the oval office . let's talk about that.

>> he found lilly led better, one of the first things he did in office. we are talking about it as if he doesn't have a track record.

>> i hold him to a higher standard. i expect him to say, oh, she's good looking -- that is lazy --

>> she wasn't insulted.

>> i wasn't upset or insulted. he should stick to the substance with b when he is talking about her in a professional setting.

>> what is a -- how are we to understand the administration's commitment to reproductive choice , broadly the tremendous political effort put in by kathleen herself to lobby for inclusion of contraception and the affordable care act that they took from the bishops that was a serious political fight they did not have to pick, basically, right? how do you square that? that record with their record in this specific case in n which you have a federal court judge saying, this is the -- more or less saying this is the bush administration redocks.

>> oh, not more or less, definitely saying that.

>> how do you square those two, though?

>> obviously, the decision to make contraception generally available without co-pay under the affordable care act is the most tremendous advance for women 's reproductive health in history. it's huge. here and the judge said it, you know, there was an election coming up and without question it was a political decision. that's why, thank goodness, we have courts that hold the government accountable when it does that.

>> do you have an expectation about the appeal? i mean, do you think they are going to appeal?

>> i'm not going to predict about that. but again, if the president wants to live up to being a strong --

>> the election is over, right? if there is expediency, the election is over and there's an opportunity there.

>> i want to take issue with what affect of the affordable care act was. i have an even higher standard than access to contraception. that's baseline, right? the affordable care act makes it hardener a lot of cases to get access and in the insurance exchange.

>> this is a last minute deal.

>> right.

>> at the point of a legislative gun we must say.

>> i got it. but that gun is always held up, right?

>> incidentally, that's american -- that's american politics .

>> so the question is, i mean, to the point of the president's feminist bona fides , this is the moment to fight, right? i have felt in many cases that he could have used a lot more of his political capitol on this issue. i understand why he hasn't but i still don't think it's right.

>> i think it is useful to leave this with this test we see. a concrete thing we can see. about are they going to appeal or not. nancy north up from center of reproive rights. that was a lot of fun, thank you.

>> move over target. there are people in programs, people on disability. that's coming up. with