President Obama has just started the process of filling his cabinet for his second term and is already under fire from progressives for failing to nominate a woman to head key positions such as Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and Treasury. But does failing to nominate a woman for these posts, in the wake of high profile resignations like Hillary Clinton and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, really show that diversity in the Obama administration is under threat?
It’s not a simple question to answer in part because a cabinet secretary drives two independent but cooperative goals: carry out executive policy and establish agency culture. And in at least two cases when those two goals have come in conflict it would appear the president has chosen to go with a nominee that would stay true to the president’s immediate policy needs.
Let’s take this step-by-step, starting with Obama’s nomination for Secretary of State, Sen. John Kerry. Kerry is a highly qualified statesman and will be replacing Hillary Clinton who has done nothing but a brilliant job in the role. And Clinton follows a growing (by recent political history) line of women who have held the job as the country’s top ambassador, a line that would have continued had Obama’s first choice U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice not become the target of Republican witch hunters.
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