Fox News host Bill O’Reilly suggested that women may have an inherent “downside” that would prevent them from being an effective president, in a segment on “The O’Reilly Factor” Thursday night.
“There’s got to be some downside to having a woman president, right? Something — something that may not fit with that office, correct?” O’Reilly asked Fox News contributor and USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers and Republican strategist Kate Obenshain.
“Hmm, I’m gonna say no, Bill,” Powers responded.
“Let me ask you this, what’s the downside of a man being president?”
“You got three years?” O’Reilly responded, suggesting that the 44 male presidents throughout American history have had their share of problems — including the possibility that a machismo attitude may make men less open to sensitive conversation.
“Men are men and women are women, and there’s a difference, Kate. There’s a difference between the genders,” O’Reilly said.
Obenshain shared her fellow female guest’s skepticism, saying that surely there are downsides to certain individual women, but that generalizing is unfair.
Powers offered that perhaps a woman may try to overcompensate for her perceived feminine weakness by being bullish on military issues — raising the specter of Hillary Clinton’s vote in favor of the Iraq War as an example — but maintained that “it’s a silly thing to worry about, because we’ve seen strong women leaders.”
“But … there haven’t been that many strong women leaders throughout history,” O’Reilly said, suggesting Muslim leaders would refuse to deal with a female president.
“So right away, there’s a deficit there, no?”
O’Reilly posed the question in response to remarks outgoing Minnesota Congresswoman and 2012 Republican presidential primary contender Michele Bachmann made in an interview last week that many Americans “aren’t ready” for a female president.
“I think there was a cachet about having an African-American president because of guilt,” Bachmann told syndicated conservative columnist Cal Thomas on Feb. 19. “People don’t hold guilt for a woman.”
Watch the debate below: