It all started a week ago when the fun began.
Usually on the same side of issues, President Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren have been sparring over a potential trade deal called the Trans Pacific Partnership. Obama is pursuing the agreement, but Warren is fiercely opposed to it, along with Ohio’s own Senator Sherrod Brown.
Then Obama made a remark about Warren that Brown felt was too personal. From HuffPo:
The president said in a Saturday interview that Warren is “absolutely wrong” to oppose it, and he suggested her criticisms are purely political: “The truth of the matter is that Elizabeth is, you know, a politician like everybody else.”
Then Sherrod suggested that Obama was being sexist and wouldn’t have referred to a male Senator by his first name.
“I think the president was disrespectful to her by the way he did that. I think that the president has made this more personal than he needed to,” Brown told Capitol Hill reporters. “I think by calling her ‘another politician’ — I’m not going to get into more details — I think referring to her as first-name when he might not have done that for a male senator, perhaps — I’ve said enough.“
The problem for Sherrod Brown is that Obama has referred to several other senators by the first name. Including male senators named Sherrod Brown.
He gave a shout-out to “Sherrod” at a 2012 AFL-CIO convention in Ohio.
Looks like Sherrod put his foot in his mouth. And now the White House expected an apology.
The White House on Wednesday called the remarks off-base, noting that Obama often uses lawmakers’ first names. And they suggested that Brown owes the President an apology.
“There are a number of instances where the President has used the first name of the senator to reference them in public, both men and women, including multiple instances in which he’s referred to Sherrod Brown as Sherrod in public setting,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.
“I believe that Sen. Brown, given the opportunity to consider his remarks, will then offer up an apology because he’s a stand-up guy,” he said.
As of midday Wednesday, Brown’s office said the senator had not apologized to Obama.
It’s now a week later, and today, Tommy Christopher asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest if Senator Brown had apologized yet to President Obama. It sure sounds like he hasn’t.
— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) May 19, 2015
At the time, Josh Earnest expressed confidence that Sherrod Brown would “find a way to apologize,” so at Tuesday’s briefing, I asked if the way to that apology had made itself evident.
[Earnest]: “Ah, you should ask him.”
On its face, this seems like a boilerplate non-answer, but it can really only mean one thing. Brown hasn’t apologized publicly, and if he had done so privately, Earnest’s response would have been something like “I don’t have any private conversations to read out to you.” Actually, it would have been exactly like that. Sherrod Brown isn’t saying (so far), but I’d bet good money that he hasn’t apologized, but more importantly, that the White House is pissed that he hasn’t apologized, and wants him to be asked about it.
For what it’s worth, I’m with Obama on this one. I don’t think what he said was sexist at all. It might not have been a very flattering comment to make about Senator Warren, but it certainly wasn’t gender based.
He used her first name, which he has done with male senators. And he called her a politician. Which she is.
Sherrod should apologize. Let’s hope reporters like Christopher keep bringing it up with Brown and the White House. Because I’m enjoying this entirely too much.