In all of the hoopla surrounding the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, President Trump and his surrogates used the announcement to push back on the narrative that his administration lacks a substantial number of women in positions of influence.
“Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all,” he tweeted.
But perhaps Trump made special mention of his historical hire because it is so rare within his administration. The Trump administration has been called one of the most male-dominated administrations in recent history.
American Bridge 21st Century, a liberal super PAC that monitors Republican candidates, found that 80 percent of nominations for top jobs in the Trump administration have gone to men, according to the Guardian.
The number puts Trump on track to have the most male-dominated federal government in nearly a quarter-century.
Trump told reporters Tuesday, “I'm really at a point where we're getting very close to having the Cabinet and other things that I want.”
And in appointing Haspel to succeed Pompeo, this is not the first time Trump replaced a man in his administration with a woman.
When former White House press secretary Sean Spicer resigned, Sarah Huckabee Sanders replaced him. And Anthony Scaramucci was replaced during his incredibly brief tenure as White House communications director by Hope Hicks, who has since left the administration.
But many of the vacancies created by men leaving the administration — and there are a record number of them — have been filled with other men or left vacant. Past reports of the small number of women in high-profile positions may be why some conservatives used Haspel's history-making nomination to attack liberals and Trump critics for not celebrating the diversity of her hiring.
But the expectation that liberals would celebrate Haspel's nomination simply because she is a woman displays a basic misunderstanding of the left's desire for more women in top positions of government.
Liberals don't want to simply see more women in leadership. They want women with liberal values, which critics of the Trump administration say Haspel lacks.
The Post previously reported:
Haspel’s selection faced immediate opposition from some lawmakers and human rights groups because of her prominent role in one of the agency’s darkest chapters.
Haspel was in charge of one of the CIA’s “black site” prisons where detainees were subjected to waterboarding and other harrowing interrogation measures widely condemned as torture.
When those methods were exposed and their legality came under scrutiny, Haspel was among a group of CIA officials involved in the decision to destroy videotapes of interrogation sessions that left some detainees on the brink of physical collapse.
It is this that is bound to dominate the headlines during her confirmation hearings as both Republican and Democratic senators will want her to answer for her role in the CIA's interrogation and detention program — not her gender. But given that she will only need 51 votes in her favor, Haspel will likely get the votes needed to take her position.
But her likely confirmation won't do much to convince critics of the Trump administration that the president has a high view of women in leadership. It will just lead to greater accusations that he does not take human rights seriously.