As commencement keynote speech bookings go, it's the equivalent of getting Coldplay to perform at your bar mitzvah: President Obama has offered his oratorial services to Barnard College, the 124-year-old women's college affiliated with Columbia University, and the school has responded with an enthusiastic, "Yes, please!" School president Debora Spar tells The New York Times she's "thrilled" at the news: “This is just an extraordinary opportunity for the college, a moment in time that will be unforgettable for the graduates and their parents.” Spar said the school would in turn award the president, who graduated from Columbia in 1983, with its highest honor: the Barnard Medal of Distinction.
The offer comes at the tail end of a bleak week for women's rights, but one in which Obama proved himself to be a strong and sympathetic ally to their cause. The president recently made headlines for personally reaching out to Sandra Fluke after Rush Limbaugh's pathetic attempt at slut-shaming the Georgetown law student, who had testified before Congress in favor of coverage for contraception costs. If we're to be mildly cynical about Obama's motives -- and how can you not be in an election year -- it's a high-profile effort to shore up his female support base while luring away undecided women voters who nevertheless enjoy having some autonomy over their bodies. And you know what? We're okay with that.