So Is This How We’re Supposed To Feel About Obama Appointing So Many White Men to The Cabinet?

“But he loves me loves me loves me, I know that he loves me anyway.”

Terrific song, but waking up to a headline like Obama’s Remade Inner Circle Has An All-Male Look, So Far is major pee on the cereal.

It doesn’t matter if President Barack Obama is doing a better job (43%) than President George W. Bush (33%) at appointing women. Women are 51% of the population. If sufficient progress for women means doing a better job than President George W. Bush (or the current Republican party agenda in general) rather than including women as full participants in all areas of society, daughters across this country can wave goodbye to a realistic prospect of equality in their lifetimes.

I like President Obama. I believe in my heart he wants to help advance the status of women and girls at home and around the world. It’s okay to like President Obama and make some demands.

Shrugging our shoulders and saying the Republicans wouldn’t confirm Susan Rice for Secretary of State doesn’t soothe. The Republicans are throwing a fit over Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, and the Obama administration is going to the mat for him. Why is the time right for another political battle when the appointee is a white man rather than a woman of color?

Deeds not words. Results not promises. Equality not “better than the Republicans.”

4 thoughts on “So Is This How We’re Supposed To Feel About Obama Appointing So Many White Men to The Cabinet?

  1. I spoke about this on my last podcast and I do acknowledge that perhaps my privilege is blinding me to seeing the point being made but one thing I do have to ask is shouldn’t the power and impact of the positions he has appointed women to count more than the raw number?

    His two biggest nominations were, of course, the Supreme Court nominees of Justices Kagan and Sotomayor. Anyone else that President Obama has nominated is not guaranteed to serve beyond January 2017. Sotomayor and Kagan will serve as long as they wish to serve and their impacts on our government will be much longer lasting than any other appointments he will make (unless he gets to make another SCOTUS replacement.

    We also have Hillary Clinton, Janet Napolitano, and Kathleen Sebelius. All women placed in very powerful positions (perhaps more so than many of the male appointments).

    We also do not know what people were considered for the job but ultimately were not chosen. Given Obama’s past history of appointing women to powerful positions, I am inclined to believe that women were likely given a serious look for other positions where men were ultimately chosen.

    By all means we should be critical of the President and his decisions. He doesn’t get a pass from me just because I supported him twice. But perhaps he should also get the benefit of the doubt.

  2. erintothemax

    Thank you for this thoughtful response.

    I don’t agree with the benefit of the doubt approach, one the president himself urged in a news conference yesterday, simply because we have never had equal representation of women in appointment. As an activist, waiting for it all to work out doesn’t strike me as a strategy.

    A few days earlier this article in the New York Times was of particular concern:

    It details how Obama is said to be down to two (white men) from whom he will pick his chief of staff, since Lew has been picked for Treasury. From the article: “What is striking, especially at a time when Mr. Obama has come under criticism for the scarcity of women among his top officials, is that both the deputy chiefs of staff to Mr. Lew are well-regarded women and neither seems to have been considered for promotion.”

    However I do think this situation can be rectified by telling the president exactly what to do.

    Please sign and share my petition to President Obama to Nominate More Women to the Cabinet

  3. “and neither seems to have been considered for promotion”

    I am wondering how the NY Times reached this conclusion though. How do they know that the two deputy chiefs of staff were not considered? That is what I am talking about when it comes to giving him the benefit of the doubt. It wouldn’t be wise for Obama to share the list of all the people who were considered for the position. That would open himself up to potentially a lot more second guessing (especially if people involved in the confirming process would have preferred a person considered but not nominated). But giving his past record of appointing women to very powerful positions, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to questioning if he considered women for the positions. I am also willing to give him credit for the weight of the appointments he has previously given to women.

    I also want the President to pick the best person for the job. For example, John McCain said that he might have picked Meg Whitman to be Treasury Secretary. That would be a woman in the position but it would have been a terrible choice. She turned a blind eye to fraud while in charge of Ebay. I cannot imagine what she would turn a blind eye to in that position.

    If there is actual evidence that Obama has overlooked women in the selection process then by all means he should be criticized for it.

    But, if we are just assuming things, for all we know he could be saving his political capital to appoint another woman to SCOTUS. And ultimately that is the place where we need the most diverse representation (at least when it comes to Presidential appointments, Congress is a whole other story but that is the fault of the voters)

    And again, maybe my privilege is really getting in the way of me seeing the point. Maybe that is what is causing me to want to weigh the power of the position against the raw numbers. I don’t know. It is hard to self critique certain things, especially things like that. Which is why I am putting my thoughts out there and opening them to criticism. If I am missing something I do want to see what it is.

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