Monday, September 21, 2015

Who Has a Seat at the Table?

Back in January 2013, Annie Lowrey wrote an article that surprised a lot of us titled: Obama's Remade Inner Circle Has an All-Male Look, So Far.
...Mr. Obama has put together a national security team dominated by men, with Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts nominated to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as the secretary of state, Chuck Hagel chosen to be the defense secretary and John O. Brennan nominated as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Given the leading contenders for other top jobs, including chief of staff and Treasury secretary, Mr. Obama’s inner circle will continue to be dominated by men well into his second term.

From the White House down the ranks, the Obama administration has compiled a broad appointment record that has significantly exceeded the Bush administration in appointing women but has done no better than the Clinton administration, according to an analysis of personnel data by The New York Times.
Lowrey obviously wrote that when the administration was in the midst of transition, as many first-term appointees left their positions and the President was appointing their replacements. But it fed a meme that had been developed early on in the administration that the White House culture was dominated by men (at least until some folks decided to put a target on Valerie Jarrett's back as the woman who was responsible for all of the President's failings).

Recently, Juliet Eilperin revisited the whole issue of Obama's appointments - not only of women, but a more broad perspective of diversity in the administration.
Obama has presided over the most demographically diverse administration in history, according to a new analysis of his top appointments. The majority of top policy appointments within the executive branch are held by women and minorities for the first time in history.

The transformation partly reflects a broader trend in U.S. society, but it also reflects the results of a calculated strategy by the nation’s first African American president. The shifts are significant enough, experts say, that they may have forever transformed the face of government...

O’Connell said that her research reveals that Obama has placed women and minorities in 53.5 percent of those posts. His predecessor, President George W. Bush, by contrast, installed women and minorities in 25.6 percent, while President Clinton’s number was 37.5 percent.
In order to chart that development over the last few presidents, the Washington Post provided these graphs:


Due to the fact that the lead for this article was the announcement by the White House that President Obama will nominate Eric Fanning as the first openly-gay Secretary of the Army, Eilperin also notes the following:
And Fanning’s nomination punctuates the fact that members of the LGBT community have also made similar advances under Obama: There are now hundreds of openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender appointees in the executive branch, compared with a handful in past administrations.
One omission in all this is the lack of any reporting on Native American appointments. I am not aware of any that the Obama administration has nominated to Cabinet positions, but the only Native American currently serving as a federal judge is Diane Humetewa, who was nominated by President Obama in September 2013 (the President also nominated Arvo Mikkanen but his confirmation was blocked by Senate Republicans).

When President Obama says that "everyone gets a seat at the table," this is an example of him walking his talk.

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