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Kamala Harris deserves better

I don’t think President Obama revealed some fatal streak of misogyny when he remarked that California Attorney General Kamala Harris is “by far, the best looking attorney general” on Thursday, during his two-day visit to the state this week. (To be fair, he also called her "brilliant.")

By all accounts, the president and Harris are close allies; she was an early supporter in 2008 when other key California figures, like Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and even Los Angeles Rep. Maxine Waters were backing Hillary Clinton. She had a plum speaking slot at the 2012 Democratic Convention. I truly believe the president was intending to pay Harris a compliment.

But my stomach turned over anyway. That's because I covered Harris’s first run for local District Attorney for San Francisco Magazine in 2003, and in a career spent writing about the barriers to women’s full participation in the political process, I’m not sure I ever faced the blatant gender stereotyping and disrespect I did in that race.  Due to Harris's earlier relationship with San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, the allies of District Attorney Terrence Hallinan felt free to smear her with charges she’d relied on her looks and effectively slept her way to the top.

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