It’s ironic that the man who won re-election by standing up for women and minorities is entering his second term with a cabinet that is shaping up to look like the very group who opposed him the most: older straight white men. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, who served President Obama since 2009, has just resigned. Add her name to the list of high-level women leaving the administration, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Lisa Jackson, head of the EPA.
As the President tries to reshape his cabinet, will he find room for the very people who put him back in office?
John Kerry, 69. Chuck Hagel, 66. John Brennan, 57.
The President’s nominees are all white men well over 50.
As it stands now, the only women in President Obama’s Cabinet will be Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank, who likely will be replaced.
“Napolitano might be interested in Sen. John McCain’s seat in 2016 or a possible Supreme Court nomination,” CNN notes.
It’s not just the loss of women — Solis and Clinton — and an abundance of older white men in Obama’s Cabinet that’s a problem, it’s that the President will likely also lose Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, an Hispanic, and Steven Chu, who is Asian.
The President has an opportunity to appoint the first openly-gay Cabinet Secretary, too.
“The lack of women at the very top of the still-forming new Cabinet is a cause for concern—not just because of the missing diverse inputs they’d bring to the president’s decision-making, but, as I’ve written before, because of the particular contributions certain women could make,” Jena McGregor at The Washington Post notes. “However, the debate over diversity in the president’s Cabinet shouldn’t just be about how many women there are, but how many new voices are present on a team that has long been criticized as too insular. In naming new Cabinet members, the president needs to balance selecting not just women vs. men, but people he trusts and knows well vs. those who could add fresh perspectives and alternative outside views.”
And while the White House reportedly is overall 43 percent women, a little more diversity, given the people who put him back in the Oval Office, would be a good idea.
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