Daily News Update, Presidential Transition, US POLITICS

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION: A DIVERSE CABINET WITH FEW WHITE MEN?

Presidential Transition- December 12, 2020

By: Nathaniel Ballantyne

(TrueNewsBlog ) President-elect JOE BIDEN’s pledge to nominate the most diverse Cabinet in history means his transition now has to deal with some uncomfortable math. With nine Cabinet-level posts left to fill, Biden can only pick so many more white guys without breaking his promise — whether his transition team will admit it or not. 

Democrats, including some in Biden’s transition, have been doing a bit of historical research to determine which past presidential Cabinet was the most diverse for comparison.

This demographic calculus has already influenced some of Biden’s Cabinet choices and will affect his remaining nine as well, given the number of allies and outside groups pressing him to smash any number of glass ceilings and racial barriers Biden hasn’t said how he defines the “most diverse” and his transition team did not offer a definition when asked. 

But if he wants to appoint a Cabinet with the most people of color in history, he’ll need to surpass President BARACK OBAMA’s initial Cabinet, which included 10 people of color: four African Americans, two Hispanics, three Asian Americans and a Lebanese American (Transportation Secretary RAY LaHOOD).

If Biden measures diversity by having the most women in the Cabinet, he must beat President BILL CLINTON’s record of nine women in his Cabinet at the start of his second term (one of whom, JANET YELLEN, will also serve in Biden’s).

The president-elect is nearing both metrics.

Of the 14 people Biden has picked for Cabinet-level posts thus far, nine are people of color and seven are women. Five of them are Black, including Vice President-elect are Black, including Vice President-elect KAMALA HARRIS, tying the record Clinton set with his initial Cabinet. Two are Hispanic, one short of the number in Clinton’s, GEORGE W. BUSH’s and Obama’s Cabinets for parts of their second terms. And three are Asian American (also including Harris), the same number as in Obama’s initial Cabinet.

“We have not only the most qualified and experienced Cabinet, but also we’re already on track to have the most diverse in American history,” JEN PSAKI, Biden’s incoming White House press secretary, told reporters this afternoon.

But the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus said in a statement today that it was concerned that “for the first time in over two decades, we are facing the possibility that there might not be a single” Asian American or Pacific Islander leading one of the 15 executive departments. (None of the three Asian Americans Biden’s chosen for the Cabinet so far — NEERA TANDEN, KATHERINE TAI and Harris — will have “secretary” in their titles.)

“Let us be clear: that outcome is unacceptable,” CAPAC said. So where does that leave the math?

To have the most gender and racial diversity of any Cabinet in history, at least three of the nine remaining nominations should go to women and at least two should be people of color. If Biden doesn’t select any more women of color, then that leaves four slots he could fill with white guys, such as Sens. DOUG JONES (D-Ala.), TOM UDALL (D-N.M.) and PETE BUTTIGIEG, all of whom are under consideration for Cabinet posts. (Buttigieg would diversify the Cabinet in his own way as the first openly gay Cabinet member not serving in an acting capacity.) If Biden nominates at least two women of color, he could add up to six more white guys.

But that’s just if Biden wants to do the bare minimum, history-wise. He could go even bigger by appointing a majority-female and majority-minority Cabinet, a first in both cases. So where does that leave the math?

To have the most gender and racial diversity of any Cabinet in history, at least three of the nine remaining nominations should go to women and at least two should be people of color. If Biden doesn’t select any more women of color, then that leaves four slots he could fill with white guys, such as Sens. DOUG JONES (D-Ala.), TOM UDALL (D-N.M.) and PETE BUTTIGIEG, all of whom are under consideration for Cabinet posts. (Buttigieg would diversify the Cabinet in his own way as the first openly gay Cabinet member not serving in an acting capacity.) If Biden nominates at least two women of color, he could add up to six more white guys.

But that’s just if Biden wants to do the bare minimum, history-wise. He could go even bigger by appointing a majority-female and majority-minority Cabinet, a first in both cases. (Politico).

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