Don’t let the title throw you — I think it’s imperative that American government reflect the diversity of the country. I also think that there is a unique value to nominating women and other underrepresented minorities to the so-called “Big” cabinet positions (State, Treasury, Defense, and Attorney General). But the preening in the media over the lack of women among President Obama’s early second-term picks — John Kerry, Jack Lew, and Chuck Hagel — is an embarrassing hypocrisy.
Why? Where the hell were these people when Susan Rice was getting kicked around the Senate as a potential Secretary of State? Let’s just go look at the comment I just heard.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire just appeared on Andrea Mitchell Reports and expressed her dismay over the lack of women in these positions. Where was she during the Susan Rice debate?
“I think there are serious questions about some of those statements, and I think we’ve got to see how this process plays out,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) told The Hill. “I think we need to see who else is on that list, be open-minded and see what happens.”
Way to stand up for female nominees!
I like Jeanne Shaheen, but this event highlights a long-standing problem for Democratic policymakers: it’s a lot easier to throw stones at your own party’s leader than to take on the opposition and risk political damage if the nomination failed. Even if Shaheen harbored serious questions about Rice’s involvement — and I doubt anyone without a political ax to grind would have had any serious questions — where was the impassioned defense of the President’s right to make his own nominations and receive an up-or-down vote? Her answer was the exact kind of cop out that allowed the GOP to seize the upper hand by declaring that even Democrats lacked enthusiasm for Rice.
The morale of this piece is this — if you care about diversity in hiring, you don’t get any sympathy by making a public show of it only when it’s politically convenient.