Charlie Rangel thinks his lack of appointing women and minorities is embarrassing. So far only four of the vacancies have had nominations to fill them. Treasury, State, Defense and the CIA. Only one was a woman. Hillary. The other are men to be replaced by men. Granted Jackson from EPA and Solis from Labor, both women, are leaving. Their replacements have yet to be named. If they are men, so what?
Forget for the moment that such positions are not usually filled with the best and the brightest but rather those who the President is confident will side with his way of thinking and carry out his wishes. It would be difficult to get blind loyalty and diversity in one fell swoop. Unfortunately for us.
I had hoped diversity was on it's way out. Especially in government. We have it in school admissions and the job market. The result has often been a person has been denied because he or she wasn't the correct color or gender to meet the criteria of so called balance. Government is the last place we need to be fighting this battle.
Melissa Harris Perry, an NBC commentator, has a somewhat different view. She doesn't think gender or race necessarily represents diversity. Her cases in point are that Clarence Thomas, as a Supreme Court Judge, doesn't represent the way the black community interprets issues. Of course he's not on the court to represent just the black community and the fact that his thinking is far more encompassing is in large part why he's there.
She says much the same of Michele Bachmann were she President. Being a woman doesn't necessarily mean she is representative of that group. Nor should she be if she were President.
This to me is more to the point. The President might be better served if he surrounded himself with the best rather than the most simpatico, no matter their race or gender. This isn't a criticism reserved for President Obama. It has been the universal way of forming Cabinets and choosing advisors for decades and I doubt I'll live to see it changed.
Are there women who could do the job as well or better than those chosen. In some cases, absolutely. In others, no. Is it because men have had more opportunity than women or minorities? Well, that's why all this diversity stuff started in the first place isn't it. But the opportunities are coming. More women and minorities are pursuing careers once thought off limits. Their numbers will grow as attitudes change, not with false premises.
It wouldn't bother me one bit if every staff member in the White House was a man if he was the best available for a particular assignment. It wouldn't bother me a bit if more than a token Democrat or Republican were chosen if he was the best for the job. I always felt Hillary was wrong for Secretary of State when the most pressing of issues were initiating in patriarchal cultures where women are more tolerated than treasured.
It will take a far more secure and independent minded leader than those we now have for that to happen. A leader who has convictions, the courage of them but also the wisdom to admit that he or she might not always be right, that other thinking and opinions may hold more validity and be willing and able to 'evolve' for something other than political expediency. Maybe for the good of the country?
We aren't there yet. Insisting on diversity won't get us there any sooner.