Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Not a Deal Breaker

At the end of last year, or the last decade if you prefer, President Obama named Amanda Simpson as a Senior Technical Advisor to the Commerce Department, specifically in the Bureau of Industry and Security.  Her job will be to monitor the exportation of weapsons systems.


As a general rule this would probably be a rather routine appointment.  After all, Ms. Simpson

brings considerable professional credentials to her new job. For thirty years, she has worked in the aerospace and defense industry, most recently serving as Deputy Director in Advanced Technology Development at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona. She holds degrees in physics, engineering and business administration along with an extensive flight background.

This appointment, however, has generated some controversy because Ms. Simpson is one of the first transgender presidential appointments.

So, of course, Ms. Simpson was not chosen based on her qualifications.  No, she was chosen to fill some kind of quota:

“Is there going to be a transgender quota now in the Obama administration?” asked Peter LaBarbera, president of the anti-gay group Americans for Truth. “How far does this politics of gay and transgender activism go? Clearly this is an administration that is pandering to the gay lobby.”

Focus on the Family naturally had to weigh in:

“Simpson’s nomination was forwarded through to President Obama by a gay activist group, making it appear that this appointment of a male-to-female ‘transgender’ activist to a high level Commerce Department position to be payback to his far-left base for their political support,” a spokeswoman for Focus on the Family said in statement.

Lastly, Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University could not be left out:

Matt Barber, associate dean at Jerry Fallwell’s Liberty University, said the appointment “boggles the mind” and said that while African-Americans might deserve special treatment, transgender people don’t.

“This isn’t like appointing an African-American in order to try to provide diversity and right some kind of discriminatory wrong,” he said. “This is about political correctness.”

But what is missing from the criticism?  No one says one word about any lack of qualification.  Apparently, there is only one area of Ms. Simpson’s life that deserves to be criticized by those looking to do so.  And, not surprisingly, Ms. Simpson anticipated the it:

…what gnaws at her, she says, is the fear of being labeled a token who was hired because of her sexual identity rather than on her merits.

“Being the first sucks,” she told ABC “I’d rather not be the first but someone has to be first, or among the first. I think I’m experienced and very well qualified to deal with anything that might show up because I’ve broken barriers at lots of other places and I always win people over with who I am and what I can do.”


“[There will be] questions like: Is this a token? Are you here to do a job or just to fill a quota or appease other people? In that regard it makes it a bit more difficult,” she said. “I’m sure I will have to do and intend to do a far superior job than any other person. But I’m sure I will always be second guessed.”

The whole trying to appease the LGBT community argument is kind of funny given that the president has taken quite a bit of heat, some justified, from that community based on his inaction on LGBT issues.

I will let Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality (on whose board Ms. Simpson sits) have the last word:

“If you look at the job she’s taking and at her resume, this is not a quota appointee,” … “She’s unquestionably qualified for the job. The story is . . . not that [Obama] appointed one of us but that finally we have an administration for which that’s not a deal breaker.”


  1. Kysen

    As she said herself, someone has to be the first.

    I am a Southern fried Island boy….my neck is admittedly a light shade of red…and I think that her appointment is brill. She is obviously qualified…any whining about it just slaps egg on the faces of those doing so. I hope she shines in her new position and I hope that someday in the not so distant future such an appointment will not get so much as a bat of the eye from even those furthest to the Right.

    I read somewhere today that there is some flack over a Letterman joke or skit or something that referenced her appointment. Anyone know more about that?

  2. Is the idea that this is a token position.

    She’s qualified, and were she NOT transgendered, no one would make a kerfuffle from this?

    Yes, they would.  Because no matter who it was, there’d be generated outrage.  If it were a woman, they’d be outraged that it was too female heavy a staff. If it were a man, it would be too heavy a white, or Latin, or black, or male heavy staff.

    No matter what, it would be TOO MUCH TO BEAR!

    This is the problem. If you scream at the OUTRAGE at everything, after a while, even legitimate points get lost. And we are reaching that point, so that even Republicans are losing any sustained ability to really look closely at the outrage, and it’s more of a rubber stamp of “NO!” and looking for a reason after saying it.

    In a way, it’s a smart choice, because in attacking her, the Rabid Right just look even more like insensitive knee jerk asshats.

    More and more the “political correctness” tag to a statement means “I’m about to be a bigot, how dare you call me on it!

  3. Once again, though backward on some issues like healthcare to European eyes, the US leads on other fronts.

    Congrats to Amanda Simpson, and to you for a great diary.  

  4. sricki

    Most importantly, she sounds exceedingly well qualified. But I will admit to being especially pleased by “firsts,” so I am quite happy with this.

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