Emily L. Hauser penned a great piece on why the accusations about President Obama being anti-feminist are quite ridiculous:
Feminism is the radical notion that women are people and as such, have an innate right to the same human and civil rights enjoyed by other people.
To the extent that we have mostly failed to incorporate that fact into the norms, mores, culture and laws of humanity over the vast sweep of our shared history, it’s good to practice a kind of affirmative action that seeks out and advances women of skill. When conditions beyond your control mean that you start the race a mile behind everyone else, at a certain point, it’s only fair that you be given help in making up the difference.
But that help is not, unto itself, the realization of feminism, nor is it the only thing necessary to realize feminism in human society.
I say this because there is a flap being made about the fact that President Obama’s second Cabinet is shaping up to be a very male (and very white, it should be noted) group.
Some Democrats are behaving as if the President has betrayed us, and some Republicans are suggesting that the whole “Obama is better for women” thing was so much mendacious diversion, because look! It’s a sausage fest up in the Oval Office! Joe Scarborough went so far this morning as to yell the following at his Democratic co-host Mika Brzezinski (and then later snap his fingers at her! [Yes, really! Video below]):
For Barack Obama and his team to savage Mitt Romney for a month off of an offhanded comment that really meant nothing, and here we are on something that matters. And you’re forgiving him, while you lit into Romney for a month, and the media lit into Romney for a month, and now you all are hypocritically, and I will say it, hypocritically giving this man a pass because he’s a Democrat that you’re cheering for.
Scarborough’s reference was, of course, to Romney’s “binders full of women” comment, which, had it been an isolated moment of poor phrasing would, in fact have been “an offhanded comment that really meant nothing.”
But here’s the damn thing, aggrieved progressives and conservatives alike: That comment was neither offhanded nor meaningless, because it reflected the Republican Party’s oft-expressed and acted-upon attitude toward the rights of Americans who happen to be women, and feminism is more than a headcount.
Mika (unspellable) isn’t a democrat.
Joe Scarborough is just a douche. I see no reason to respond to what he says, except to say ‘Joe Scarborough is just a douche.’
I posted this on POU yesterday:
The new meme. Been seeing it all day on other sites.
Now, the man who sent two very qualified women to the Supreme Court (a job they got 4Lyfe) and made one his Sec. of State (highest Cabinet position, if I’m not mistaken), had a woman as head of the EPA, a woman as U.N. Ambassador, and one as his top advisor, to along with one who will now be the former Sec. of Labor–now he needs to meet some quota probably set by NOW and their flunkies?
Hell, I remember in the first year of his Administration, the sorry ass media was trying to make something of the fact that many of the men in PBO’s Administration played pick-up basketball, but none of the ladies did.
Well, how many fuckin’ middle-aged women do you ever see playing ball? A man will play ball until…until his balls drop past his knees. Not too many women will play basketball after 40. When I used to go to the gym, I’d be playing against dudes in their 50s trying to hang with the young fellas (them dudes could still ball, too, using that old man strength–that shit is real, let me tell you). I ain’t never saw a mature woman on the court. Not to say it doesn’t happen, it’s just an extreme rarity.
Yup, the new meme, and the media and some “progressives” are playing right along with it.
Could it be that, just like nursing, elementary education, and in-home day care operations all have a feminine bias, that matters of Defense, military, war have a masculine bias (and thus a bigger pool of candidates to chose from)? Etc. for economics?
I’ve seen people bring up Michelle Flournoy as a qualified candidate who Obama could have chosen over Hagel as an example of a woman being overlooked. But read what Greenwald had to say about Flournoy, and you get the sense that she’s basically just another hawkish technocrat.
I don’t know if that’s accurate or not, but I’d much rather have the POTUS selecting people for his cabinet with diverse views over simply diverse genders/races. I appreciate the importance of race and gender diversity, but there’s much more to it than that. Let’s talk about the importance of people from different economic backgrounds, and how it might be nice to have a cabinet where not everyone has a degree from either Harvard or Yale for once.
Obama’s a racist! Look at all the people of his same color he’s appointed! Wait, nevermind.
@Face: NO! Absolutely not! Obama sold us out, threw us under the bus, and slapped us in the face a few times.
peach flavored shampoo
This feels like the reverse of affirmative action, but in reverse.
@Comrade Jake: IMO, the new out rage is because of the Hagel pick. Isn’t Sebelius still there? Isn’t Janet Napolitano still in charge of homeland security? What about the head of the SEC, I’m pretty sure she is a female. MSM has to invent stories to rile up everyone.
@Cassidy: You forgot the part where he is worse than Bush.
All of a piece, ABL. If you think picking a stupid, incompetent woman with a foul personality to be your VP candidate is reaching out to women, if you think Herman Caine or Michael Steele are reaching out to blacks, then this attack makes sense. The GOP are angry because their racism and misogyny has been publicly shamed, and because they don’t feel actual guilt the solution is to turn that public shame back on their accusers. They have no empathy for minorities or women (a majority) whatsoever. They want you (I’m a white male) to be silent cardboard cutouts while they get their way. Since they can’t and won’t grasp what’s important to you, the presence of token women in an administration is all they can understand defines the issue.
For someone who thinks like that, for a Republican conservative, Obama has just been caught being wildly misogynist and it’s time for them to yell and point. They will be deeply confused when women don’t agree, and blame the women (because they’re also abusive assholes).
So if he hires all Blacks, teatards go crazy. When he hires all whites….well…somehow, teatards go crazy. Man bites dog story. Nothingburger.
@JPL: No doubt there’s an element of “let’s find something to stir the pot!” element by the press on all of this.
Askew and TMJ did bring up some good points yesterday about how it is disappointing that the Dem bench isn’t deep with women and minorities (and younger people IMO). Personally, I’m willing to cut Obama some slack, but it would be nice if there was a wider pool to choose from. I’m still not sure I understand how that is his fault, though.
I work in a male-dominated profession, and I will admit that it does mean a lot to me to find female mentors. And if I ever get to have a woman as my President in my lifetime, I will most assuredly freak out with excitement. But I am self-interested, too, and as such want people in those positions who will do what is best for my enlightened self-interest even more than I give a fuck about their skin color or what kind of junk they have.
Thank you ABL for posting this. Of all the things Obama could be accused of, this is perhaps the most laughable. Rachel Maddow interviewed the former Counsel for Michelle Flournoy last night, it was wince worthy. I don’t mind legitimate criticism of this President, in particular the drone issue, but this is ridiculous.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
Kinda puts the whole thing in perspective, doesn’t it? That and the little nugget from a couple weeks ago that until she found about it and raised hell, MB was making 1/8 of Squinty Joe’s salary. IT’s just amazing to me how the GOP drives the media, and the media drives Democrats. Andrea Mitchell yesterday was reciting the statistics about Obama’s actual appointments, followed up by “but look at this picture from the New York Times…”, and I heard Charlie Rangel in a clip singing from the Village hymnal on this latest outrage. It’s a sign of progress that the fact that Eric Holder is the first African-American AG got so little comment , but it would seem to contradict the current narrative. HHS has been demoted to a secondary post in this discussion, cause it’s not like health care has been a big deal in the Obama administration. I don’t like the existence of the Dept of Homeland Security, but it’s a fairly important post, and I thought it kind of significant Obama appointed a woman to it; again, the lack of comment is a sign of progress, but you never see the word “Napolitano” in these discussions of Obama’s all white male cabinet. I despise Ken Salazar, but again, where is his name in this discussion of diversity? This is the same way we got from “deficits don’t matter” to “ZOMG! The Deficit is coming to eat David Gregory’s children!”
@Suzanne: Be careful what you wish for, my PhD adviser was a woman and she was much harder on her female students than she was on her male students. She was bitch with an enormous chip on her shoulder.
ETA: The hypocrite also ran a group called Women in Physics.
When the Republicans bring up something like this, you know it is in bad faith. There is a less polite term for it – “ratf$cking.”
They are just grinning ear-to-ear, trying to dominate a few media cycles, place Obama on the defensive, and possibly create divisions among the assorted interest groups on the left (like in this case – the “slap in the face” PUMA crowd). Sort of the way that the GOP cried crocodile tears over the lack of a public option during the health care debate several years ago, or claims great sadness over Obama’s failure to close down Gitmo.
@feebog: Can you elaborate on the wince worthy comment?
Maddow has been at times unwatchable since coming back from vacation. I didn’t even watch last night’s episode.
Completely agree with this post.
And THAT, is most excellently stated.
What’s important is that Obama’s appointments be seen as controversial and unusual so they can be blocked. Jack Lew is just too hyperpartisan, too male, too white, too Jewish. Hagel is too conservative, a republican traitor, too white, too male, and not Jewish enough. If they can block based on hypocrisy, more power too them. The point is to make them controversial so they can be blocked. Since it is unlikely that the white men from the banking and foreign policy circles have written about teaching children about masturbation, this is what we’ll get. If the president didn’t nominate these guys and instead nominated a bunch of Asians, Hispanics, African-Americans and women, we’d be hearing a different line.
The important thing is to block the president’s important cabinet nominations. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous they look doing it.
Mika takes that shit all the time from that loud mouth, punk ass frat boy. Tough shit.
Something else, in addition to the excellent points above – it is especially rich that Joe Scarborough claims distress over Obama’s lack of token gender diversity while simultaneously shouting down Mika Brezinski, and snapping his fingers at her.
[Full disclosure – Mika is an old college friend of mine, and is a very smart, strong woman. She puts up with a lot. And it ticks me off that the format of “Morning Joe” requires her to be the voice of reason to Joe Scarborough’s rampaging jerk act.]
President Obama nominated two of the four female judges to ever sit on the Supreme Court. And women have played a crucial role in the Obama administration, including Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Valerie Jarrett, Kathleen Sebelius, Regina Benjamin, Janet Napolitano, Rebecca Blank, Hilda Solis, Lisa Jackson, Susan Rice, Tammy Duckworth, Karen Mills, Christina Romer, Sara Manzano-Diaz, Melody Barnes, Latifa Lyles, Cecilia Muñoz, Mary Schapiro, Nancy Sutley, Carol Browner, Ellen Moran, Jen Psaki, Katie Hogan, Stephanie Cutter and many others.
Not only have more women served in the Obama administration than any previous administration, but more people from the LGBT community have also served in the Obama administration than any other administration.
The accusations coming from Scarborough and those on the right is nothing more than a weak attempt to divert attention from the GOP’s abysmal record of inequality, and to take away the sting from their war on women and binders of full of women.
Hey, know what matters to me? Reproductive rights. Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Family-friendly policies for both male and female employees. A diverse cabinet is nice, but I’ll take a mostly white male cabinet with good policy and good legislation that potentially help many, many people, over a couple of women coming out of their binders to serve as tokens in an administration that couldn’t care less about them except as window dressing.
@Bokonon: This Mika who bitches and moans about the objectification of women all the time. SO she’s just doing this for the money?
Villago Delenda Est
Ideology fail! You obviously value getting shit done over scoring points with the dilettantes.
You terrible, awful, practical person you!
gee, if only they (the party of old white dudes yelling at clouds) hadn’t tanked Susan Rice’s name being floated, then maybe we would see more women and more diversity in Obama’s cabinet… hey, wait a minute…..
@Jim, Foolish Literalist:
What’s noticeable about the cabinet apptmnts all the ruckus is being raised over is that if the next 4 years go as planned they represent policy backwaters: the job of the SecState over the next 4 years will be to keep anything offshore from blowing up in a big way so we can concentrate on domestic issues, and the job of the SecDef over the next years will be to put the economically necessary downsizing of the DoD on a rational basis. Neither of these are growing concerns from a budgetary or bureaucratic standpoint, nor do they represent the career leapfrogging jumping pad they might have been under other circumstances.
In other words, boo-fucking hoo.
This is, in part, a diversion from Republicans not passing the Violence Against Women Act.
Villago Delenda Est
The correct way to refute anything Scarborough says is to ask him one question:
“Killed any female staff members recently, Joe?”
The most important topic of the day should be about Jack Lew.
Should he or shouldn’t he be allowed to keep his signature.
I think he should be allowed to keep his loopy loops.
This is all they see.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@piratedan: or if the same media now promoting this latest “scandal” had pointed out that the old white dudes yelling at Susan Rice shaped clouds were a pair of buffoons who have been wrong on everything for that last decade-plus, and that one of them is to boot an absurd demagogue desperately trying to fend off a primary challenge. (I happen to think McCain is quite sincerely stupid, and Graham knows better)
and if you look at high-level appointees during GOP administrations, at least from Reagan onward, you’ll find an interesting pattern. If the face was non-white and/or female, that department was marked for skullduggery or at best neglect.
Maybe I’m cherry-picking a bit, but not by much.
Supreme Court – Sandra Day O’ Connor
EPA – Anne Burford (“this job is a nothingburger” Gorsuch
HUD – “Silent” Sam Pierce
George H. W. Bush
Supreme Court – Clarence Thomas
George W. Bush
EPA – Christine Todd Whitman
Sec’y of State – Condoleezza Rice
Education – Rod Paige
@piratedan: Yeah, but she wasn’t bright and probably too pushy for the job. She also went on TV with talking points, which is simply unusual behavior for a public official.
Culture of Truth
Mitt Romney? Isn’t he a loser?
Oh, and this from the same media which jumped on the Susan Rice witch hunt.
The fucking irony of it all. The fucking gall of these assholes.
And all these so-called feminists jumping on this, where were they when Susan Rice was getting attacked? Or Sonia Sotomayor? Or Michelle Obama, who gets attacked almost weekly?
@Culture of Truth:
He lost, so yes.
Culture of Truth
You know why people mocked Mitt Romney? Because he was damn mockable.
You know Joe mocked Mitt Romney? Same reason.
@feebog: I was kind of annoyed by that, where kind of annoyed = yelling, “Yeah, and she’s a neocon!” at the TV.
I can’t wait until baseball season starts so I’m not tempted to watch the news shows. It just pisses me off.
Forum Transmitted Disease
Where’s my little concern troll buddy Askew this fine morning? I thought he’d be all over this, he cares so fucking much about it.
This. All this.
And y’know, I’m not extremely upset with the GOP or media on this. It’s what they do. You can’t get mad at a snake when it bites you. Snakes bite, it’s what they do.
But for those on the left who go along with this bullshit, when, as your list shows, has no basis in reality, that’s when I get pissed. Some of the worst pushers of bullshit memes against this President and his Administration have come from the left. The constant doubting and kneecapping of this man from the progressives is what galls me the most.
So I’m not allowed to think that it’s pretty shitty that Obama is falling back on white male retreads? Sure, Romney would have been far worse on women’s issues. It’s still shitty.
Headcount *does* matter, and it’s disingenuous to pretend it doesn’t. Somehow, whenever people are bloviating about being colorblind or ignoring gender or how they are just picking the most qualified for the job, they manage to always pick far more white men than anything else. Gosh, guess it’s just accidental! Or our little brains just aren’t quite as good as men’s.
I think we’ve all known people like that, but the vast majority of the women I’ve met in my field realize that architecture is a sausage-fest and that it will be better for us all to support women who want to do a good job.
The attack I saw more than once yesterday was that he has a bad signature, and will make the money look all gay or something.
Depends what the choices are.
For example, let’s say for sake of argument that Hagel really is substantially less hawkish than Flournoy. You really think that Flournoy’s sex should trump Hagel’s relative dovish-ness?
That being said, I’m sure every single cabinet post could be filled with (say) a black woman who could do a better job in the sense of having policy preferences I prefer other those of the eventual appointees. But there are other obstacles in the way (sadly).
@JPL: Also, I thought that the NY Times photo that Joe S. was discussing was a set-up to get the fake outrage going. Just saying . . . .
@Raven: @Bokonon: Don’t blame poor old Joe. He’s so full of himself that there is no room left for anything except rampaging jerkdom.
Haven’t you heard his mantra? “I was in Congress in the nineties and we did stuff.”
Raven, we all have lapses in judgment. I’m going to write the picture off as a lapse and give her a pass on that one. It galls me to do it though.
And what did Rachel say last night about the defense nomination flapdoodle?
@JPL: He should TOTALLY be allowed to keep his loops. I love them.
I think part of where this comes from is that there used to be a very bitter and hard-fought boundary between Liberals and the Left in this country. Liberalism started out as a centrist 3rd way between the Left and the Right, and the boundary between Liberalism and the Left was contested in a quite vicious fashion right thru most of the Cold War. Which meant that liberal leaders (such as FDR and LBJ) used to come in for a lot of abuse from the Left, understandably so given the context.
Today we no longer have a Left, at least one of any size or consequence, from a policy standpoint. The Left has collapsed into Liberalism on policy. But we still have something occupying the position of the old Left as a cultural faction. And that cultural faction continues to stand in opposition to a liberal leader (e.g. Obama) even though their policy arguments for doing so are a lot less clear cut than was the case 50-100 years ago.
No, you’re not. I’ve got your back on this one.
There’s a certain school of thought that claims every appointed position has that certain magic someone who will be absolutely perfect for the role. And then there’s another school that believes we are flush with talented potential appointees, many of whom span the racial and gender divides, and that its fairly simple to get a quality mix in your cabinet without sacrificing some intangible awesomeness.
Obama was ready to nominate Susan Rice for Sec State, and the GOP got him to flinch. He’s seen far too many of his best and brightest get tared and feathered by Breitbart-style smear campaigns. Lining up a bunch of old rich white guys in his Cabinet on his second term looks suspiciously like a retreat, or at least apathy towards the goal of grooming talent for future administrations.
Let’s not forget where Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were working during the Reagan Administration, and where they ended up 20 years later. The people Obama appoints today will be on everyone’s short-lists for Senate seats and Governor’s mansions four years from now. Neglecting diversity today is going to cost us dearly down the line.
@tavella: It’s not that it shouldn’t be seen as disappointing, but there are a lot more factors involved other than Obama just wantin’ to chill with some vanilla dudes. Of course there is the politics of it. Also, it’s been stated, due to the lack of women and minorities in our higher education institutions and high level government, there really isn’t a deep pool to draw from; exceptionally disappointing, but not something I’d blame one man over 4 years for.
It’s the misplaced blame that bothers me. Why is everyone so goddamn quick to blame the President? Have we forgotten about the other two branched of gov’t? Have we forgotten about our educational institutions that create these policy SME’s? have we forgotten about the various private industries that are enmeshed with gov’t work? Why is it always Obama’s fault? That’s what pisses me off about it.
And of course Ezra, who can’t think of anything in particular to say bad about Lew and how he won’t work for Democrat priorities…It’s just that he’s decided that the president’s choices have become strange even as he admits they make sense.
You’re erroneously claiming that there’s not much ground between Obama and those to his left on economic policy.
Zapruder F. Mashtots, D.D.S. (Mumphrey, et al.)
See, this is something that conservatives will never understand. They think the same way whenever anybody brings up Republican racial politics over the last 50 years. They always say, “Oh, yeah, but we have our own darkies, too, you two-faced liberals! There’s that new senator from South Carolina, and the woman from Utah who ran for Congress, and Allen West. And Ken Blackwell and Alan Keyes. And that guy from Oklahoma who was in Congress from 10 years ago or something. Oh, and Clarence Thomas, too! And we had all these blacks up speaking at the convention, but we never get any credit for that! Why won’t you give us any credit for our blacks?”
It’s hard for me to see why it’s so hard for them to understand. But there’s a big, wide, yawning gap between trotting up a bunch of minorities onto stage so you can say, “We aren’t racist or sexist! Look at all our darkies and broads!” while at the same time fucking women and minorities over, which is what the Republicans do; and working to help make life a little better for women and minorities, which is what the Democrats have at least tried to do for 50 years.
Republicans are simple minded creatures who think that each type of person is a representative of their group. If you want to bring women into the party, Put more women in leadership positions. If you want more Hispanics, put more hispanics in leadership positions.
I went back and forth for an hour explaining to my Republican B-in-Law that its not the Type of person in the position, it’s the policies that person supports because of the type of person they are that matters. He just couldn’t wrap his head around it.
Why can’t people in the media and republicans figure out that the policies of leaders are more important that tokenism?
Review the range of economic policy options on display during the 1912 Presidential election and get back to me on that.
@Darkrose: Bah. Queue the MTP interviews with a dozen handwriting experts who all conveniently find that signature a sign of the worst forms of psychological illness and moral depravity since Caligula.
@Suzanne: Physics is like that too, she paid lip service to the concept of women helping other women, was a sweet talker, polite, like David Brooks but only women who worked for her or took any of her classes knew how horrible she could be.
This is where continuity of party control over the executive branch spanning multiple administrations matters a great deal. Cheney and Rumsfeld starting coming thru the GOP career pipeline during the Nixon/Ford administrations. GOP control of the WH starting in 1969 was only interrupted for a brief span of 4 years, from 1977-1980, and then it was back to business as usual, and that only came to an end in 1993, and then in 2001 they were in again.
Dems will enhance their career prospects (and put a dent in those of their GOP counterparts) enormously by not only winning in 2008 and re-electing Obama in 2012, but by winning again in 2016. Obama today is dealing with a Dem career pipeline that only has the Clinton period to draw on.
Just picking a woman doesn’t make Obama any better or any worse on women’s issues. Heck, he could have picked Michelle Bachman to be Secretary of defense. Would that make him better?
Isn’t it better what his policies ultimately will accomplish?
He already picked two outstanding women to the USSC compared to Bush’s two men. Isn’t that evidence enough that Obama is better for women’s issues?
@Suffern ACE: “find that signature a sign of the worst forms of psychological illness and moral depravity since Caligula”
Didn’t we already know that he worked at Citigroup?
@Culture of Truth:
Even Republicans did it.
I hate Newt Gingrich, but I laughed and cheered so hard when he told Mittens “the only reason you’re not a Washington insider is because you lost to Ted Kennedy!”
Where do you draw the line, exactly? What do you consider “liberalism” and what do you consider “the left?”
Culture of Truth
Obama said at the nomination ceremony that he never noticed the signature before, even though Lew is his chief of staff. But after looking at it, quote, “I considered rescinding my offer to appoint him.”
Obama says Lew promises to work to make one letter legible, quote,”in order not to debase our currency.”
Meh, during the Clinton years while the GOP got the media to waste my time witchhunting for anything and it did become clear he had a problem with fidelity….a fair number og GOP loyalists said and thought that would make women turn against Clinton. It didn’t. I had to think through why I wasn’t going to vote against him because I really dispise cheats and it made me sick. It was because his actual policies were safer for women. Not just better, the GOP positions especially on abortions, seemed like a threat to me. Granted I have had a very charmed life in a lot of ways and could have been complacent, but I knew luck would matter and I didn’t want my rights taken away. At times, the threat of a Clinton veto seemed like our only safety. He was very reliable on that kind of issue as are most Democrats, who are still mostly male.
It seemed to me then and now that many (not all) GOP loyalists think political correctness is a verbal game and that it didn’t become verbotten to say certain words or phrases because people who think that way are judged to be bad, but just because it’s not polite, like trying not to fart in public. Thats why the actual racists didn’t realize Obama was going to win both elections. they thought people were lying to the pollsters.
So they don’t understand the substance of Obama’s suport from women and minorities, or for that matter the Democratic party. Most of us will be voting for the next Democrat too and I would have voted for Hillary if she had beat Obama, even though I had 2 problems with her as compared to him. The GOP scares the heck out of me.
I’m also tired of magazines and newspapers that still look for more first women first black who do this stories. I do care, but the stories have been so lame and so fluffy that they make me want to scream. Competance matters to me alot as well.
I guess the bench could use building up women/minorities but the way to check on that is to count how many staffers and assistants of powerful democrats are women/minorities now. the kind of positions that tend to be the powerful themselves in 10/20 years. If that is happening, time will fix it. What’s Hagles staff like? He’s GOP, he might not be very diverse friendly, but he might too.
The Tragically Flip
Is “better than Bush” the only standard we can apply? Seems rather a low bar.
On economic issues, the Left favors socialism (worker control over, if not outright ownership of, the means of production), while Liberals favor regulated capitalism (ownership by captial is left undisturbed, but their freedom of action is contrained and they are taxed to cover externalities requiring govt intervention).
On national security / FP issues, Liberal = internationalist, interventionist, and imperialist, Left = the opposite of all that.
Culture of Truth
Glen Greenwald: you’re not supporting the dear leader enough!
GOP: we need more racial and gender quotas!
Bo: I like cats!
It’s a world gone mad, I tell ya
Diversity is wonderful, but it becomes a mockery when we put limits on it. We’re not going to get a cabinet that’s 51% female, 10% minority.
I work in a very male & white dominated profession. I’d love, love, love to see more women and especially more AA & hispanic minorities in civil engineering. It takes time, resources and progressive mentors to bring along people.
As many others have pointed out, a lot of this is the GOP/media spin that Obama can do no right. If he doesn’t appoint enough non-male, non-whites then he’s in the wrong. If he did the opposite, he’s too polarizing. If he went some shade in between, he’s gone too far or not far enough.
@The Tragically Flip:
Is “perfect avatar of progressivism” the only standard we can apply? Seems rather a high bar.
Nonetheless, I’m sure the NRCC goon who was on MSNBC this morning bemoaning Obama’s racism against minorities is happy to have your support.
@The Tragically Flip: Has any President had a more diverse cabinet than Obama’s cabinet? Has any President had more diverse judicial nominations?
The Republicans, whose party is bereft of diversity, is pushing this nonsense.
That is my thought as well. While I think the GOP and media’s outrage over diversity in the Obama admin is laughable, there is still a point to be made that Obama’s cabinet could use more female heads.
And I am not thrilled with Obama supporters rolling their eyes at women who want better representation in the Obama admin. It’s dismissive of a real concern. Just because Joe Scarborough is a disingenuous douchebag doesn’t mean that the Obama 2nd term cabinet is likely to have a real diversity problem.
That is a key point that many are overlooking in their zeal to defend Obama. I don’t agree with the GOP or the media’s BS pile-on about Obama’s cabinet picks. I do agree that picking so many old white men for his cabinet is going to hurt our party down the line.
They got him to flinch by making her withdraw her own name for consideration?
Why would President Obama go to bat for someone who didn’t even want the job themselves that badly?
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
@The Tragically Flip: Compared to any other president, he’s been better.
Shorter GOP: Why isn’t Nobama appointing women to be Secretaries of Transvaginal Probes and Slut-Shaming?
Every rumor I’ve heard about next Justise nominee = will be a woman.
This right here. If people would like to show me that Obama is also stocking the lower-level positions with straight white men, then I’ll be happy to jump on the “Obama sucks” bandwagon. If he’s using Kerry and Hagel as human shields so he can stock the lower positions with women and/or minorities who will then have the experience to move up after 2016, then I’m all for it.
Did anyone outside of diplomatic circles know who the hell Susan Rice was before her name started being floated as SoS? And yet there she was because she had quietly been working her way up since the Clinton administration.
ETA: According to Wikipedia, Susan Rice actually wanted to be the head of NSA when Obama was first elected in 2008, and I don’t see any indication she’s not going to get her wish this time around. By 2016, her Keystone connections will be a distant memory.
@AxelFoley: Late to the thread, what’s POU?
Sorry, the wingnut freakout over Susan Rice’s appointment (woman, african american) to the point that she had to withdraw invalidates any criticism of Obama’s appointment choices. It no longer matters if he is or isn’t open to any demographic group in his Cabinet, the GOP kicked that particular door shut of their own initiative.
@askew: Actually, creating a deep bench occurs at one or two levels below the top spot. Having been an Assistant Secretary of X under one admin. put one in a better position to be Secretary of X down the road.
Also, fwiw, I think looking at the diversity of the top three or so levels gives a better picture than just looking at the top jobs. That being said, I don’t know where the Obama admin. ranks by the criteria I just set out.
Pragmatic Obots Unite. It’s another blog, definitely pro-Obama and unashamed of it. Mostly minority (read: black) bloggers. Just click on my username and it’ll take you there.
Good observation. I’m too young to have experienced that first hand, but I do know a little political history and have always been very prickly about being called a “leftist.” I am not a leftist. I am a liberal. Not to disrespect leftists, but there is a difference.
On a side note, with the “conservative” wing of this country becoming very much rightists, where do actual conservatives go?
You forgot “mindlessly worshipping Dear Leader”. Ten demerits to Progressivedor House!
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
Of course Obama hasn’t done enough: He’s still 100% male. If he would only convert half of himself to female, things would be better.
I didn’t vote for Obama because he is black. I voted for him because he was the best candidate, both in 2008 and 2012. His being black has contributed to his performance as president, but I didn’t vote for him that way.
Of course I think that a truly representative body would have half women, 19% Hispanic, and (I think the fraction is) 13% black, with these groups overlapping, all of these taking into account statistical variations of picking people for a small number of slots from areas where the distribution does not match the population distribution. And Obama has done pretty well over the years in that.
By all accounts, the current male Secretary of Defense will be replaced by another man, the current female Secretary of State will be replaced by a man, and the current male NSA head will be likely replaced by a woman, Susan Rice.
Where is the net loss?
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
@Chyron HR: LOL. They might make it up, though, in 11-dimensional chess.
@Midnight Marauder: Don’t bring that up. Facts clutter the landscape of our beliefs.
As a black woman, I am proud to see so many white males supporting diversity. It would be more awesome if it applied to their own hiring practices and policies. It would be even more awesome if it was not as an attack point against a president who has shown his commitment to diversity where it counts-in policies and personal hiring practices. It would also be awesome if the progressives upset about diversity understood that the corollary to this freakout is the other freakout from the right and the middle that the next minority/female/combo is an unqualified affirmative action hire, just like the President. Because that’s the other shoe. Asking for more diversity is fine. I support that. Not sure how that works if there is not a diverse qualified bunch of candidates, but, yeah!-diversity.
Plus, speaking as a black person, we’re not inclined to keep ramming our heads into bullshittery. This whole thing is just a rolled eyeball and back away situation. No one, NO ONE, is going to stomp into this shithouse without really dealing with the question of whether or not they want to sit in front of pig-ignorant, bigoted old white dudes and play stepnfetchit so they can get one more notch on their power stick. Fuck that noise, you can make bank without it and still wield power. Me, however, I”m bitter and cynical enough that I would stick it out and be rude JUST TO MAKE THEM DIE OF HEART ATTACKS. And I include the media in that. What you need are minority candidates that are so fucked in their lives that the prospect of just being a giant thorn in powerful people’s lives for a few months sounds like fun. Having seen the process in a small scale way, I don’t think successful people have that mindset. If things have been good, you don’t have that desire to destroy even at the cost of your own comfortable, quiet existence. It takes really losing to want to watch your supposed betters burn. My 2 cents.
On the righthand side of liberalism, I’d say. True small-c conservatism means a policy of not making substantial changes to the status quo, and especially not fast changes. Despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, for the most part the liberal social welfare state bequeathed to us by FDR, Truman and LBJ is today’s status quo. The rest is arguing about how best to dispose of a couple of percentage points of GDP one way or the other, except for the lunatics on the right who just want to blow it all up. They are the anti-conservatives.
@The Tragically Flip:
It’s just an expression…
I could have said better than Clinton. I thought my point was clear but I’ll try again. Obama has done a hell of a job on women’s issues. It is beyond me that some people try to criticize him just because there aren’t enough women on his cabinet. Would it really be any better if there was 100% women with the same policies as Michelle Bachman?
Jesus. Do we have to go through this shit again? I am a diehard Obamabot not a firebagger. Just because I think Obama’s cabinet heads should be more diverse doesn’t mean I am a firebagger.
If that happens, I’ll be pleased. I hadn’t heard that rumor anywhere. However, we are also losing 2 other women in the cabinet – Solis and Jackson. Let’s see if those two slots are filled by men or not before cheering.
That said I don’t think keep the status quo of 14 out of 20 cabinet heads being men is something to cheer about. That matches Clinton’s cabinet gender breakdown. Shouldn’t we want more progress than that? Why can’t we have an even split in the cabinet heads by gender? It isn’t because there aren’t enough highly-qualified women for the posts.
The President has done more for equality of all kinds – including women’s – than any President before him.
No worries he is going to be turning in his feminist card.
As someone who fought long and hard on the frontlines of feminism, have to say I’m not the least bit bothered by these choices being male. Am bothered that the loudest objections to potential contenders was to a woman.
Men can do a good job, too. Can’t object to qualified candidates just because they have XY chromosomes.
Culture of Truth
It seems to me Obama was planning to promote Susan Rice, and that part of the strategy to increase her visibility
was sending her out on the Sunday shows to discuss Libya, among other issues. Unfortunately, they screwed up, and it backfired. But to the question, why was she out there in the first place, that’s the answer.
And that interview just cemented in my mind why Maddow’s show is NOT the show to watch. I stumbled across it last night while channel surfing and it was the stupidest segment I’ve ever seen on her show, up to and including when she used to have Uncle Pat on.
And the tongue bath she and that aide to Flournoy were giving to Flournoy was disgusting. Not one word about Flournoy’s policy prescriptions in regard to defense (which are right in line with the neocons) but all kinds of concern trolling about how Flournoy is a woman and that trumps everything. I’m no big fan of Chuck Hagel, but I am much closer to his view of defense than those of Flournoy.
I was disgusted.
There is a world of difference between a more diverse cabinet and appointing a cabinet full of Michele Bachmanns. There are more than enough liberal, qualified women for each of the cabinet posts for your argument to hold any water. And not one liberal or Democrat is suggesting that any woman is better than a liberal, qualified man for the job. That’s a strawman argument.
Culture of Truth
@askew: I suspect Chyron is gently pointing out that other people can have a different opinion from yours that which is equally honestly held and does not necessarily stem from “a zeal to defend Obama.”
This is the realest shit ever authored on Balloon Juice.
@Culture of Truth:
I doubt it. He was hurling abuse at me yesterday when I raised my concerns about Obama’s cabinet diversity. And I consider it zeal to defend Obama when I hear arguments like he is married to a woman, has two daughters and loved his mom, of course he isn’t anti-woman. Or he’s friends with Valerie Jarrett, of course he isn’t anti-woman. Or when they are scouring the WH website to find every female member of the WH as proof that Obama isn’t anti-woman. That’s zeal and is completely ignoring the point of the criticism of Obama’s cabinet.
It is possible for people to believe Obama has been great on women’s issues, has appointed lots of women to positions and still think that his cabinet should be more diverse.
I remember when Obama appointed Napolitano and Sebelius to his cabinet. He got criticized to no end by liberals for robbing us of two governors who now were replaced by Republicans.
And now he gets criticized when he does the opposite. It seems he can’t win.
And why does it have to 50-50? Isn’t more important to appoint the best team possible?
Finally, it is easy to claim that are enough qualified women to be on his cabinet. How do you know? Did you ask all of them if they were even interested in going through the idiotic senate hearings? Have you done background research on all of them to verify they don’t have skeletons in their closets?
Why not simply let Obama select the cabinet HE wants. He is the who is going to have to work with them, not you. He is the one where the buck ultimately stops. He owns their work, not you.
This is why I was so disgusted when McCain helped get Susan Rice taken off the nomination. It is not McCain’s cabinet.
Yes, that was strange and awful. Her attack on Hagel is something I could have gotten from foxNews just as easily. I changed the channel until LOD came on it. If she thinks Hagel’s policies are so awful, why didn’t she describe Flournoy’s policies?
Sigh, you are assuming that the same people who complained about Napolitano and Sebelius are the same people who are now complaining about the cabinet’s diversity problem. Not true in my case. I was thrilled about both picks especially Sebelius since I wanted her to be Obama’s VP pick.
Of course Obama can pick the cabinet he wants. That doesn’t stop me from being disappointed that his cabinet doesn’t have more women in it. Since I think Obama is the best president of my lifetime, I have higher expectations of him. And I expected that his 2nd term cabinet would be more diverse than his 1st. I am disappointed that so far it isn’t true.
Fair enough. We have to agree to disagree about how many women he should have on his cabinet. You are disappointed, while I don’t think it’s much of an issue.
@ruemara: A fucking MEN.
@Paul: I was really disappointed in Rachel for not even raising the question of “What are your boss’s positions on defense?”
I’m with you. As an old equality warrior from back in the ’70s, I can only laugh at all the so-called “Obots” and “progressives” throwing a fit over the number of women named as cabinet heads. I’m much more interested in where the real work of diversity and equality happens. Those being the policies that the administration pursues. If those policies are woman-friendly and advance liberal causes, then everything else is window dressing and not important. If Michele Flournoy had the same defense policy ideas as Chuck Hagel, maybe I’d be upset about him choosing Hagel instead of Flournoy. But she’s a neocon and Hagel is a realist, so it’s pretty easy for me to support Hagel over her. I’m pretty sure the women of Iran would agree.
Disingenuous bullshit of the worst kind. I read that whole thread and no one defended him on this basis. Now if you would mention that she is not just his friend but his most trusted advisor aside from his wife, then you’d be correct but it would undercut your bullshit criticism.
I didn’t say that those arguments were in the other thread. I said that poster had attacked me in the other thread. I used those examples of actual arguments by Obama defenders to show that their zeal was getting the best of them and that none of their arguments including the one about Valerie Jarrett being his friend and advisor addressed the actual criticism. The criticism being that Obama’s 2nd term cabinet is looking to be less gender diverse than his 1st term and probably less diverse than Clinton’s.
Paul, Cassidy and others have made arguments that actually address the criticism. I don’t agree with all of them, but at least they are addressing the issue. Other supporters who are attacking Rachel Maddow for not having a diverse staff are deflecting the criticism and not addressing it. And I don’t think they are making their side look very good.
The official Republican Party version of feminism is almost entirely partisan. It equates to things like:
– claiming shock and dismay over Bill Clinton’s affairs (for being “sexual harassment” and showing insufficient respect for women everywhere);
– claiming that the media needs to treat Sarah Palin with kid gloves (while grooving on how awesome and sexy she is),
– claiming that the media needs to treat Michele Bachman’s policy ideas with more seriousness (while talking about how much better looking she is than Nancy Pelosi),
– and now … attacking Obama for not appointing enough women to his cabinet (while gleefully ignoring the savage beatdown that they just completed doing on Obama’s choice for Secretary of State … forcing her withdrawal).
The great thing? They pull off these media hat tricks simultaneously defending Rush Limbaugh’s birth control onslaught or the whole “legitimate rape” imbroglio.
In other words? This stuff is offered in pure politics and total bad faith. All the time. Equality and respect for women is not a core belief of the GOP – it is a media pose, a false flag, a weapon, and an avenue of attack.
Ah, yes — there’s always another betrayal just around the corner, isn’t there?
Let’s say for a crazy moment that Obama proposes replacing Solis with Richard Trumka. (This is totally me coming out of left field, BTW — there is absolutely no hint anywhere that such a thing would happen or that Trumka would accept.) Is that a net loss or a net gain for the country? After all, you would be replacing a Latino woman with a white man, but you would be replacing her with the current head of the AFL/CIO and a lifelong labor leader. So should Obama reject that idea in favor of appointing a woman?
ETA: Also, too, you should probably address the issue of lower-level appointees since you’ve been avoiding it. Is it better to appoint a woman as the head of the agency with a bunch of white male subordinates, or to appoint a white male as the head with a diverse group of subordinates? Consider 2016 and what generally happens with subordinates from previous administrations (like Susan Rice) before you answer.
Come on. The betrayal comment is bullshit and unnecessary. My criticism has not changed from the beginning. I am unhappy with the gender diversity in Obama’s cabinet. I was unhappy with it in his 1st term and I am likely to be even more unhappy with it in the 2nd term. I would like to see an even split between men and women. Yes, the qualifications and ideology of each nominee matter more. But, there are enough qualified and liberal women that we could get an even split.
What I want to see once the 2nd cabinet is complete that there is an even split in gender. That does not mean that I would take Michele Bachmann over Richard Trumka for Labor Secretary. But, that is a false choice. If the choice is between Linda Sanchez who has been excellent on labor issues and used to be a labor attorney and union member and Richard Trumka, I would pick Sanchez and not only because she is a woman. I think Trumka is a great outside agitator and does more good there than he would inside the government. And I think Sanchez would be more effective in that role than Trumka would.
I am not avoiding the issue. I am addressing my concern. I think it is important to have gender balance in Obama’s cabinet heads because they are the ones in the room giving Obama advice. And as multiple studies and my experience in business have shown, having people with diverse backgrounds, ethnicity and gender making decisions usually results in better decision-making.
I also think that the top cabinet position matters because these are the people who are going to go on to run for House, Senate, Governor and President. Increasing diversity here is going to increase diversity in our elected bodies and that is important to me. Yes, the subordinates in this Obama admin are likely to become cabinet heads in future admins, which will then go onto become elected officials. That’s important too. But, Obama appointing diverse subordinates doesn’t negate my criticism of his cabinet for me.
And there is no reason why the only choices would be male head with diverse subordinate and female head with white male subordinates. It’s really a false argument.
Those cabinet heads are not giving him that advice from a vacuum. They are getting it from their subordinates, which is why I think the diversity of those subordinates is even more important than the cabinet heads.
Cabinet heads rarely go on to run for elective office in the modern era. They’re usually either career employees of the agency they end up heading or people who have reached the end of their legislative careers. I guess you could argue that Dick Cheney worked his way up to vice president, but you should take a look at how he did it before you declare that it’s a normal thing for former cabinet members to do.
It’s no more false than your implicit argument that neocon and Iraq War supporter Michelle Flournoy is a better pick for Secretary of Defense than Iraq War skeptic Chuck Hagel because she’s a woman and he’s not. Read up on Flournoy before you decide she’s getting a raw deal — she has some pretty scary ties to the PNAC and other hawkish groups and I don’t want her as SecDef even if she does have two X chromosomes.
I never said that Flournoy is a better pick than Hagel because she is a woman. I think she is a better pick than Hagel because foreign policy is set by the President not by the Secretary of Defense, so I don’t really care what their foreign policy views are. I do care about their views of women and gays though and Hagel has held horrendous views on both. The SoD is going to have to deal with making sure DADT is fully implemented and that gays are treated equally in the military. He is going to have to make sure there are policies in place to deal with the huge issue of rape in the military. He is going to have to make sure women have access to proper medical care, including abortions in the military. His draconian views on women and gays make me worried that he won’t handle these issues properly.
That said, I’d prefer Jack Reed over both Flournoy or Hagel.
My overall concern is that the cabinet is gender balanced and includes minorities. If Obama’s other picks feature more women and more minorities and Rice is installed at NSA, I’ll be thrilled to eat crow. However, right now the choices are going in the wrong direction on the diversity level so I am worried.
As for cabinet heads who go on to run for office, I was thinking of Bill Richardson.
Really? You don’t care that the person who would be in charge of the drawdown from Afghanistan thinks we should stay there? You don’t care that the person who would be in charge of the Defense budget thinks we need to attack Iran to protect Israel?
It would be different if she had those views but was being proposed for something completely unrelated like HHS. But she was being floated for Defense, and I don’t want her within a hundred miles of being allowed to make military decisions about the Middle East.
So Hagel’s views on defense is not relevant because policy is set by President. Yet his views on gays are relevant because… you lost me.
The President sets policy on both DADT as well as budget cuts for the military. If Hagel (and he has apologized for remarks he made 15 years ago) doesn’t agree, he would be fired.
Your posting is exactly what Maddow talked about last night, which made no sense. Somehow a remark Hagel made 15 years ago (and has apologized for. And it was a real apology. Since when do progressives not believe in contrition and second chances?) is more relevant to his role at Defense, than his role of trying to make our military budget smaller. I had to change the channel as Maddow clearly made no sense.
Who, exactly, is attacking Maddow for not having a diverse staff? All I’ve seen here is the point–which you don’t seem interested in addressing–that as someone who’s on board with the neocon agenda, Flournoy may not be the person progressives want at DoD.
@Culture of Truth: They didn’t screw up. Those appearances were complete vanilla. It was the Republicans who decided they were going to make a massive issue issue of them.
This. Apparently not revealing every single of piece of evidence you have regarding an ongoing investigation in a nationally televised interview is OMG COVERUP!!
The quest for equal rights has morphed into a demand for special rights. The president is most likely choosing his cabinet based on what he wants to accomplish. Maybe a group of mostly white guys have the qualifications he is looking for to achieve his goals at this time.
@Suzanne: I love how that turned into an anti-woman stereotype. I had one bad female advisor, so, better be careful what you ask for.
@askew: There was an orchestra that found they were hiring as many female musicians as male musicians, that started to wonder why first chairs were predominantly male.
They started having auditions with numbers and the performer behind a curtain. Once they did that, female first chairs rose to the ratio you would expect if men and women are roughly equally inclined to be excellent musicians.
This was with a group of people who were concerned about bias who found that despite their concern, the cultural bias that is so deeply embedded in how we think about things dominated.
Everyone who sees the candidates by gender and color who ends up declaring that white men just happen to be the most qualified are probably full of shit.
@Gex: Yes, I noticed that, too. Women, being people, will be arseholes in roughly the same percentage and severity as everyone else.
I want to be clear, though: I think head count DOES matter. I just don’t think it matters MORE than having people I agree with in positions of power. What’s sad is that I have to choose between the two.
Can’t agree enough. Amen. Well said.
Excellent, forceful presentation (of what unfortunately should already be obvious…)