Barack Obama's Cabinet Choices Could Insult Women

If the following widely circulated flow chart (posted by my colleague Paul Bedard and making its way around Washington at gigabyte speed) is anything close to true, many women who voted for Barack Obama as president are destined for disappointment. The chart indicates that there are two female top choices for Obama cabinet positions: Penny Pritzker at Commerce and Janet Napolitano at Justice. Neither position would indicate progress for women, as there have been women in both posts in the past. IMHO,, Obama owes it to women and women of color, whose votes he secured in historic proportions, to put them in cabinet posts they've not yet held, such as Treasury and Defense.

If, and again it's a big if, this flow chart of unknown origins does reflect the Obama plan, women ought to be taking to the streets in fury. George W. Bush, no friend of women, according to most progressive women, has had seven women serving for part or all of his second term as president. They were:

Ann Veneman as secretary of agriculture until 2005, Gale Norton as secretary of the interior until 2006, Elaine Chao as secretary of labor for both terms, Margaret Spellings as secretary of education from 2005 until today, Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state from 2005 until today (before that she served as his national security adviser), Mary Peters as secretary of transportation from 2006 until now, and Susan Schwab as U.S. trade representative from 2006 until now.

Politico.com has an article saying President-elect Obama faces less pressure to put together a diverse cabinet because, as the first African-American president, he's already breaking an incredible barrier.

First, I beg to differ. But second, this sounds to me troublingly similar to something I heard from an Obama campaign higher-up when his vice presidential selection process was underway. I was told Obama's pollsters were advising him not to consider a woman as his veep and to stick with "vanilla," to wit, white men. That is exactly what he ended up doing--considering three white men and choosing one of them.

Obama's already apologized, as I've noted before, for calling a campaign reporter, "sweetie." His career-oriented wife has entitled herself, "Mom-in-Chief" while she's first lady. His top campaign brass were all white men. His first cabinet selection, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, is, of course, a white man. I'm not liking what I'm seeing. And if it continues, I hope that low rumble I hear coming in my direction is the sound of a burgeoning revolution.

--Click here to read more by Bonnie Erbe.

--Click here to read more about the Obama transition.

--Click here to read more about feminism.


By Bonnie Erbe
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