Obama praised Kamala Harris's looks during a fundraiser in Atherton, Calif., on Thursday, telling the crowd that she was "by far, the best looking attorney general in the country," the Washington Post reported.
“You have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you’d want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake,” Obama said.
“She also happens to be, by far, the best looking attorney general in the country,” the president joked.
Obama's audience may have laughed, but some people didn't find his quip that funny.
"It's a shame to see him undermine his enlightened policies with comments that highlight women's ever-present decorative duties," Amanda Marcotte wrote for Slate's XX Factor blog, "especially when we know for a fact that such remarks erode women's opportunities and even their own sense of deserving equality."
New York magazine's Jonathan Chait argued that the president needed "gender-sensitivity training,"
Democratic pundit James Carville said that while he understood Obama's opinion, he thought the president should have kept his mouth shut.
“Look, I’m a 68-year-old guy and I do notice honestly the way that women look sometimes," Carville told MSNBC, "but you’ve got to learn to sort of keep your opinions to yourself."
Other commentators were more sympathetic.
"He spoke the God's honest truth," Jonathan Capehart wrote in the Washington Post.
Buzzfeed quibbled with Obama's assessment, naming 13 of America's most attractive attorneys general, all of them men.
Vice President Joe Biden's son, Delaware's Beau Biden, came in first.