Friday, January 11, 2013 at 5:44 AM

Obama White House: Too Male, Too White

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Given all of President Obama’s political rhetoric about gender equality and diversity, you’d think this would be a very progressive and transformative portrait. But it’s not.

(“Women Complain about Obama’s All-Boys Club,” The iPINIONS Journal, September 21, 2011)

This, in part, is how I lamented the portrait acclaimed journalist Ron Suskind painted in his book, Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President, of how the (disappointingly) few women in the Obama White House were being treated during his first term. Now his White House is in the ironic and untenable position of having to defend itself (again) against accusations of being staffed with too many (White) men.

Mere days after Obama’s re-election, the Democratic diversity police were compelled to issue a warning over his handling of (Black) Susan Rice’s candidacy for secretary of state. Recall that he sent her to Capitol Hill to kiss the ass of a few Republican senators only to prevail upon her to withdraw her name from consideration after those senators said that she’s not a very good kisser.

By discriminating contrast, even though those same senators said that (White) Chuck Hagel was an even worse kisser, Obama went ahead and nominated him for secretary of defense.

And it did not help matters that he tried to make up for not standing by Rice by showing how utterly begrudging his nomination of (White) John Kerry in her place was. He did this in petulant and disrespectful fashion by not giving Kerry a chance to utter a single word when he presented him at the White House. (Top nominees are customarily given an opportunity to say a few words when the president presents them to the media….)

But Obama then compounded the diversity infraction he committed with Rice by nominating all White guys to the other top jobs in his, um, er, White House; namely, for treasury and the CIA.

Then came this week’s photo showing him in the Oval Office surrounded by his closest advisers – all of whom are males, and all, but one, of whom are White.

Well, this not only compelled the diversity police to issue the kind of rebuke one would’ve expected a Mitt Romney White House to receive; it ignited a viral lament that had Democratic women wondering if they need to send “binders full of women” to Obama.

About all those white guys: What a shame.

Not an outrage, but a shame. The face of power that President Obama has chosen to present to the country and the world with his second-term Cabinet picks is striking — except for the African American president at the top of the pyramid — for its retro look, white and male.

(The Washington Post, January 10, 2013)

As indicated above, Obama surrounding himself with a bunch of good ol’ White boys is nothing new. The question is: why?

My psychoanalysis is that, as a Black president, Obama is convinced that he is such a dominant and diverse presence that he supplants the need for the representation of other traditional minorities in his inner circle.

It may be, for example, that he thinks of himself as the equivalent of five persons. Which, of course, would surely have some of his White predecessors – who counted Blacks like him as only three fifths of a person – rolling over in their graves.

Nonetheless, I have no doubt that, just as he made amends in his first term by appointing more women and minorities (including a Latina and a Jewish woman to the Supreme Court) than any other president by far, he will do the same this term.

In fact, when the Democratic diversity police rebuked his White House at the beginning of his first term, I felt so confident Obama would make amends that I made light of it in a commentary, which included the following observations:

Who would’ve thought that President Obama, the first Black president of the United States, would be liable to criticism for fostering extracurricular White House activities that exclude women? Yet, ironically, that is precisely the case.

This criticism reached a tipping point last week when he invited only male members of his Cabinet and Congress to the White House to play basketball…

To his credit, though, Obama is nothing if not a quick study…

Therefore, it was hardly surprising that cameras caught Melody Barnes, the Domestic Policy Council Director, lumbering with clubs in tow across the front lawn of the White House over the weekend heading out for a PR round of golf with Obama.

And thus was another gender barrier broken. It’s just too bad that cameras did not confirm whether Barnes was actually invited to play or merely to serve as the president’s caddy….

(“Obama Finally Admits Women to His All-Boys Club,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 27, 2009)

Wise up Obama!  You clearly do not need women and minorities to vote for you ever again. But, no matter the amends you make eventually, this narrative that you are no more transformative than Ronald Reagan when it comes to diversity in the White House could have a lasting negative impact on your legacy.

Related commentaries:
Women complain
Obama finally admits women

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