If Bill Clinton can be considered to have been America's first black president, argues Matthew Continetti in a tour de force at the Washington Free Beacon, then Barack Obama is America's first woman president:
[O]ur ascription of gender identity need not be based on chromosomes or sexual characteristics, on hair style or costume, on self-identification, on arbitrary and socially constructed discourses of macho and feminine. It is clear to me now that we have had a woman president since January 20, 2009. Barack Obama’s story is America’s story. It is our story. It is the female story.
Strong women have surrounded Obama since childhood: his mother, who raised him after his deadbeat dad fled to Kenya; his grandmother, “who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to become vice president at a local bank”; his magnificent wife and First Lady Michelle Obama, before whom we all bow down; Michelle’s mother Marian Shields Robinson; the fierce pixie Valerie Jarrett; his billionaire heiress secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker; the gaunt and severe and silver-haired Kathleen Sebelius. Obama’s ascent to power, Sharon Jayson pointed out long ago, testifies to both the struggles and successes of single moms. From these ladies and others Obama drew lessons in how to raise his two beautiful daughters, in the value of women to American society, in the art of wearing mom jeans.
Throughout his presidency Obama has displayed sensitivity to women’s issues, women’s concerns, women’s priorities. He appointed two women to the Supreme Court. He established the game-changing Council on Women and Girls. He signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. The mascot of his 2012 campaign was a woman. He is a staunch defender of reproductive rights, supporting sex-selective and partial-birth abortions, opposing any restrictions on abortions in the final trimester of pregnancy, calling Sandra Fluke to affirm his support, demanding the Little Sisters of the Poor provide contraception to their nun employees. His is a nurturing presidency, emphasizing children’s nutrition, early childhood education, primary and secondary school reform, the affordability of higher education, the challenges facing boys and young men of color, universal health care, the high cost of hip replacement for aging parents. He knows that “when women succeed, America succeeds.” And women know he is one of them. In 2012 he won their vote 55 percent to 44 percent.
Continetti cites Harvard professor Joseph Nye, who says “women have evolutionary incentives to maintain peaceful conditions in which to nurture their offspring and ensure that their genes survive into the next generation". Continetti notes the extent to which Obama "shares these incentives":
His foreign policy abjures the stereotypically male, the reflexively violent, the stubbornly confrontational, and the unthinkingly gruff. He is not afraid to be called a wimp, not only because using such language is a micro-aggression, not only because such harmful words depend on categories and expectations of “male” behavior that are hopelessly outdated in the twenty-first century, but also because he is better than that “bored, tough guy shtick.”
Obama even suffers from feminine "otherness" in the man's world that still dominates politics:
Nye describes the path women must travel to reach power: “Women are generally not well integrated into male networks that dominate organizations,” he writes, “and gender stereotypes still hamper women who try to overcome such barriers.” What he writes about women could also be written about Obama, who disdains glad-handing and networking, who “doesn’t really like people,” who in domestic politics has given up entirely negotiations with the “male networks that dominate organizations” such as the House of Representatives, who every day is hampered by the stereotype that he is brilliant, logical, debonair, pragmatic, witty, world-changing, deeply read, hip.
Yet Obama has overcome such barriers. He is one of a kind. Knowing their struggles, sharing their opinions, committed to abortion whenever and to contraception for all, supportive of equal pay for equal work, practicing the soft power of defense cuts, of negotiations, of needling, of chiding, delivering geopolitical statements from pre-school classrooms, snapping selfies with the girls at state funerals, displaying almost every trope of womanhood outlined by the theoretician of soft power himself, Barack Obama has as much of a claim as the next girl to being the first woman president.
And how successful has our first woman president been?:
Discussion, consultation, negotiation, and open hands are preferable to violence and clenched fists. Violence is not the answer. If violence were the answer then Bashar Assad would still be in power (he is), and would still maintain his chemical weapons (he does). If violence were the answer then Vladimir Putin would not have left Georgia alone (his troops occupy it), nor would he have left Ukraine alone (he invaded last weekend). If the world still operated along antiquated notions of hegemony and primacy, China would not be disarming (its defense budget is up 12 percent over last year).
Words are more powerful than bombs. Words scared Assad into not using chemical agents against his own people (he’s gassed them repeatedly). Words stopped Putin from invading Crimea (the invasion was rapid and successful). Words convinced China to rescind its Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea (it’s still there, and the Chinese are planning another for the South China Sea). Words persuaded the Iranians to give up their nuclear program (they say they will never surrender the right to enrich). Words ended construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank (construction doubled in 2013), and established peace in the Middle East (Abbas won’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state).
“In terms of stereotypes, various psychological studies show that men gravitate to the hard power of command,” Joseph Nye wrote in 2012, “while women are collaborative and intuitively understand the soft power of attraction and persuasion.” He adds, “Recent leadership studies show increased success for what was once considered a ‘feminine style.’” Collaborate, intuitive, soft, attractive, persuasive—these attributes of the “feminine style” are perfect descriptors of Barack Obama’s relation to the world, or at least to those parts of the world that are not Republican or Israeli.
Considering the degree to which sex has been unmoored from biological reality in the United States, Continetti might really be onto something here. Sorry, Hillary.