President Barack Obama will deliver the 2012 commencement address at Barnard College—bumping Jill Abramson, the first female executive editor of the New York Times.
The White House selects a small number of schools for the president to speak at each year (in 2011, Obama spoke at Miami-Dade College and the United States Coast Guard Academy). Abramson had been confirmed to speak at the women’s liberal arts college in New York City.
There might be a political motive for the White House selection, the New York Times reports:
Word of Mr. Obama’s appearance at Barnard, a 123-year-old women’s college in New York City, comes as the White House and Democrats have seized on Republican attempts to block a requirement for contraception coverage in the new health care law, saying it amounts to a “war on women.”
Democrats believe the issue could be an effective rallying point with women voters in a presidential election year, and the decision to appear at the prestigious women’s school could provide a high-profile forum for the president on that front.