With President Obama expected soon to name Gina McCarthy as his pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, he’s adding women to his Cabinet at a pretty decent clip but running out of chances to ensure there’s racial diversity in his circle of top advisers.
Last month, funnyman Jon Stewart zinged the White House for its “Zero Dark Appointees” in a “Daily Show” segment following President Obama’s all-white initial round of picks (for Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Treasury Secretary and CIA Director). But close to two nominations later, it could be no laughing matter.
The drain of minorities from the Cabinet is evident: two of the Cabinet’s four blacks and both its Hispanics have left or have announced they are leaving. Only one of the two Asian-Americans who served during the first Obama term remains.
Meanwhile, the White House will have only seven Cabinet or Cabinet-level posts to fill at the departments of Commerce, Labor, Energy, Transportation, and at the U.S. Trade Representative, Office of Management and Budget, and the Small Business Administration.
If the rest of the Cabinet remains stable, President Obama would have to name a minority to five of those seven jobs to maintain the level of diversity he reached in his first term.
Couldn’t be a shortage of qualified candidates, some say. In fact, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) recently complained that the White House hasn’t made use of the “binder” of suitable nominees that the Congressional Black Caucus provided. “The Black Caucus of Congress...sent 61 names to the White House,” Hastings reportedly said late last month at a conference of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. “Time went by. Not one of that 61 was selected – not one.”
A spokeswoman for the CBC said she wasn’t aware of the list, but pointed to letters written by CBC Chairwoman Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) backing three CBC members, Rep. Melvin Watt (D-N.C.) for Secretary of Commerce, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) for Secretary of Labor, and Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) for Transportation Secretary.