The controversial Trans Pacific Partnership has sparked quite the row in the U.S. government, with the latest flare-up centering on President Barack Obama’s rejection of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (Mass.) criticism of the bill interpreted as sexist.
The hotly-contested bill would give Obama fast-track authority to enact the TPP, meaning no filibusters or amendments are permitted. Die-hard liberal Warren opposes the agreement because she believes it will push American jobs overseas and could weaken labor and environmental regulations in the U.S. and abroad. Plus progressives like Warren are concerned about the fast-track authority part, which in place for six years, could allow a future Republican president to further undermine environmental regulations or the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms meant to improve financial transparency and prevent future bailouts. Warren’s opposition struck a chord with the Democratic Party as every Democrat, except Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, blocked the bill on Tuesday. However, on Wednesday, Democratic senators met with Obama and reached an agreement on the bill.
But in an interview with Yahoo News last week, Obama called Warren “absolutely wrong.”
"The truth of the matter is that Elizabeth is, you know, a politician like everybody else," Obama said. "And you know, she's got a voice that she wants to get out there. And I understand that. And on most issues, she and I deeply agree. On this one, though, her arguments don't stand the test of fact and scrutiny."
Obama’s remarks fired off Sen. Sherrod Brown, who has sided with Warren’s position.
Brown told reporters he thought Obama was being “disrespectful” to Warren adding that "just calling her 'another politician'...then referring to her as her first name when he might not have done that for a male senator, perhaps?”
Brown’s statements were echoed by the president of the National Organization of Women, Terry O’Neill.
“Yes, I think it is sexist. I think the president was trying to build up his own trustworthiness on this issue by convincing us that Senator Warren’s concerns are not to be taken seriously. But he did it in a sexist way.”
The White House is currently awaiting an apology from the Ohio democrat, but his fierce opinion should arguably be allowed without regret. Obama’s attempt to build up rapport for his moderate trade agreement was dismissive of Warren’s intellectual capability and alternative political stance. With a subtle tinge of casual disdain, Obama's statements cast Warren as embarrassingly radical and not legitimate because her perspective differs. Women already do not get taken seriously in politics, especially when their viewpoints stray from the mainstream, and writing off her perspective with her first name not only rejects her politically but underneath that rejects the idea that a woman might have something valuable to say.