Obama under fire for white male Cabinet

2013-01-11 07:44
US President Barack Obama  (Charles Dharapak, AP)

US President Barack Obama (Charles Dharapak, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - The first black US president is coming under fire from some in his own Democratic Party for naming a stream of white men to key Cabinet and leadership posts in his second administration.

President Barack Obama on Thursday named Jack Lew as his Treasury secretary, the fourth white male he has named to the most prized cabinet posts in recent weeks.

Lew's nomination follows Obama's pick of Senator John Kerry to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. He has also named former Senator Chuck Hagel to be defense Secretary and John Brennan to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

Against this, he lost the first Hispanic woman in the Cabinet when Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced her resignation on Wednesday. And last month Lisa Jackson, who is black, announced she was stepping down as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

"It's embarrassing as hell," New York Democrat Charles Rangel, one of the most senior black members of Congress, said of the Obama appointments.

‘We need a govt that looks like America’

New Hampshire Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, whose state has the only all-female delegation in Congress, described the appointments as "disappointing".

"We need a government that looks like America so we can address the concerns that we hear from across the spectrum," she said.

Republicans joined in the criticism with former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee accusing Obama of waging a "war on women", using the same words Democrats coined to criticise Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney during the election campaign last year.

"Now a lot of those females who supported Barack Obama are scratching their heads, and they're saying, 'Whoa! How come there is so much testosterone in the Obama Cabinet and so little estrogen?'" the former Arkansas governor said on his radio show.

Obama beat Romney 55% to 43% among women, according to Reuters/Ipsos exit polling on Election Day. He also won large majorities of the African-American and Hispanic vote.

Diversity in the United States is usually defined as including women and racial minorities, especially Hispanics and African-Americans. US political pundits parse polling data of women, Hispanics, African Americans and other groups for signs of voting patterns.

They track the "gender gap", which is the percentage difference between Democratic and Republican support among women.

Republican criticism surprising

Since Obama's re-election in November, many analysts have noted the rising percentage of US ethnic minorities and described his victory as a reflection of changing demography.

The criticism of Obama is surprising because Republicans usually are the party accused of insensitivity to diversity.

Former President George W. Bush deflected this by pointing to the two secretaries of state during his eight years in office - African-Americans Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. They were followed by Hillary Clinton.

If confirmed by the Senate, Kerry will be the first white male to hold the top US diplomatic post in more than a decade.

Almost overlooked in the criticism is that the White House announced this week that Attorney General Eric Holder, who is black, will stay on as the nation's senior legal officer.

Obama also was widely reported to be considering an African-American woman, UN Ambassador Susan Rice as secretary of state.

Women are represented - White House

She pulled her name from consideration because of Republican objections to her statements about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

White House spokesperson Jay Carney urged critics on Wednesday to make their judgments only after Obama had completed his team.

"Women are well represented in the president's senior staff," he told reporters, noting that his team included Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Debbie Walsh, director of Rutgers University's Centre for American Women in Politics, which tracks women in elective office, said Obama's choices were a missed opportunity to put women into powerful jobs such as heading the Pentagon.

"A case could be made that Barack Obama won on the strength of the support that he had with women, given the gender gap," she told Reuters.

With women filling 36% of Cabinet posts in his first term, Obama had the highest percentage of women in top jobs of any president other than fellow Democrat Bill Clinton, she said.
Read more on:    barack obama  |  us

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.