Let’s wait before we slam the POTUS’ picks for lack of diversity

Criticism is often offered before people know exactly what they are criticising; that goes for politics, interpersonal relationships and it’s certainly evident in social media interactions. Case in point: recent criticism over President Obama’s picks to fill his cabinet have reminded me very much of those people who see an article posted on Facebook and then make comments based on solely on the title without ever having read the article to which it’s attached. At the very least, shouldn’t they want to know, in its entirety, the issue about which they are arguing if only so that they don’t appear to be complete idiots?

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden pose with the full Cabinet for an official group photo in the East Room of the White House, Sept. 10, 2009.                       Creative Commons

When President Obama was elected the first time around, in 2008, he said that he would stay true to his campaign promise to have an administration that reflects America’s diversity. And he did. And anyone disputing the diversity of the President’s cabinet and other staff is either blind or being willfully ignorant.

Fast-forward the clock four years to his recent reelection and inauguration, and the complaints have started all over again despite his track record. Critics have said that recent prospective nominees do not reflect America’s changing demographics because they have been primarily white males. Republican pundits and talking heads at Fox “news” have been asking ‘where are the women and people of colour?’ — concern over which is supremely funny coming from them! — but, a couple of weeks ago even someone from the president’s party, New York Congressman Charlie Rangel said during an interview that the lack of diversity in the president’s choices is “embarrassing as hell.” What was particularly interesting was that the statement was made during the same week that Senate Republicans made it clear that they would not support the prospective nomination of UN Ambassador Susan Rice –  who is both African-American and a woman – for Secretary of State, and it was the same week during which Hilda Solis, the first Latina to serve in US Secretary of Labor post, resigned.

It has long been announced that numerous cabinet positions would be vacated at the end of the president’s first term; that’s far from uncommon in Washington. Expected changes are coming, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner  and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. Additionally, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be leaving her post soon and it is widely assumed that John Kerry will be confirmed by the Senate but, of course, other positions remain to be filled.

Today it was announced that President Obama intends to nominate Mary Jo White to head the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – a woman known to be a ‘no-nonsense’ person. She would, if confirmed, be the first prosecutor ever to head the SEC, as opposed to the usual Wall Street insiders. That, in and of itself, signals change on several levels –  and many of us are hoping that this signals Obama 2.0: the Wall Street Terminator who is taking the gloves off.

Before offering criticism, let’s keep in mind that many Obama administration nominees of varying backgrounds had their appointments blocked at every turn by the Republican Party. Whether they are judicial appointments or various government entities, some jobs remained unfilled  during the president’s entire first term. But, now we know, there’s more to come.



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