Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

President Obama's Cabinet. v 2.0


It was all over the news this morning. Obama’s second term cabinet lacks diversity, it’s rocky, it’s shaping up to be a boys club.  

Is this another case of Obama can’t win for losing?

He nominates, Republican Chuck Hagel, who isn’t Republican enough for some Republicans. Thanks Wonkette for your usual most excellent analysis:

The Democrat must not only name Republicans to advise him and run his departments, he must name HOLY SHIT REPUBLICANS, like maybe Ghost Jesse Helms.

His cabinet is going to be less diverse than W’s!

It’s evident that he’s going to have a less diverse cabinet this term, possibly even less diverse than the George W. Bush cabinet,” says NYU professor Paul Light, who studies political appointments .

It is shaping up to be a boys club, dontcha know.

As Democrats in Congress celebrate a historic number of women elected to their ranks, the White House’s top ranks reflect a very different picture — one that is largely male.

Well, I would like to take a look at what has happened so far and see what y’all think.  

Granted, with the resignation last night of Hilda Solis and the previous news of Secretary of State Clinton, 2 very prominent positions are slated to be filled with white males. We all know what happened though to Obama’s first choice to replace Clinton, Susan Rice, so it is not for lack of trying.

Also, not all diversity has been lost. Janet Napolitano, remains head of the Department of Homeland Security, and U.N. Ambassador Rice keeps her current spot in the administration, both being top national security roles.


Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki plan to remain with President Obama’s administration as his second term begins, according to a White House official.

Jennifer Granholm, Former Michigan Governor, has also reportedly been on

a growing list of people the administration is looking to find spots for,

So are the headlines all hair on fire, or is Obama on track to lose some of the diversity that reflects not only his party but the country?  Is he choosing the best person for each job, and should we focus on that?

I look forward to a great discussion – how refreshing!  

Here is a breakdown of who is on and who is out, courtesy of CNN.

Thanks for reading.


  1. raina

    first thing you notice, with all the people surrounding the table, is Obama. Or maybe it’s just me.

    You’re right, he can’t win for trying. If he’d allowed us to go over the fiscal cliff, there’d be cries and rending of garments over people not getting their UI. Whatever he’s for, they’re against. Goes for people on both sides. 🙁

  2. Mets102

    of nominating the people he thinks best for the job without respect to race, gender, religion, political party, etc…

    Most of his nominations have been really great, although I do admit that I’m disappointed with the Hagel nomination and, at the moment, would be strongly inclined to vote against his confirmation for a myriad of reasons.

  3. nannyboz

    of us are in President Obama’s cabinet because he’s had Clinton as SOS, still has Rice and others in top spots and appointed two women to the SCOTUS.  I don’t see him as a “boys club” kind of guy.  Obviously he has his reasons for those he has chosen so far but since mind reading isn’t my day job I wouldn’t presume to so much as guess what those reasons are.  Just my .02.

  4. (and might write something about that later under the IVFD label, which will be moving to the Moose).

    But JHC on a popsicle stick!! Can you imagine the high-pressure job a cabinet position is? From crazee Republicans to stupifyingly inane members of the press to being ON 24/7.

    And not to mention having to clean up the gawdawful mess left by Elaine Chou (Mrs. Mitch McConnell), the former Secretary of Labor. Eight years of Bush probably left the Department of Labor more like the Department of Silly Walks … a huge joke.

    I think I will wait to see what President Obama actually does before I set my hair on fire.

  5. mahakali overdrive

    a diverse cabinet strikes me as very tone-deaf. Admittedly, I’m not crazy about all of the new appointments, however, that criticism of all criticisms seems to ignore the elephant (or in this case, the black-skinned man) in the room, doesn’t it?

    Far be it for me to make any suggestions about cabinet appointments which might offend the proud fee-fees of the geniuses over at Wonkette, but alleging that President Obama is not committed to “diversity” strikes me as rhetoric at its most ignorant. Unless they are implying he’s some kind of Uncle Tom figure playing a fine minstrel show for all the nice old clapping white men? In other words, a puppet a la GWB. And I haven’t heard that chestnut thrown around yet. So is this a chick thing? If so, someone needs to pull their head out of their ass and check out Obama’s wife, mother, and all of the strong women he very much surrounds himself with. Oh, and that Susan Rice thing.


  6. jlms qkw

    it includes education, experience, beliefs & perhaps social status.  

    by gender/sex, i mean: gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

    the supreme court only looks diverse.  

    i am nearly always a bit disappointed when a white guy is nominated for anything.  some part of me feels like white guys had their chances as a group.  


  7. Its the Supreme Court Stupid

    talking about the cabinet “lacking diversity”, the WH announces that an African-American will remain as AG, a woman will remain as Secy of HHS, and an Asian-American will remain as Sec. Vets Affairs.

    Say what?

  8. iriti

    (which is not an unusual state for me…see my sig).

    On the one hand, I do hate seeing Congres, the Senate, the Cabinet so dominated by white males. There’s been progress, but it’s been slooooow.

    On the other hand, suggesting that Obama wants to build a white boys club is a little silly. What’s he going to do, leave the room?

    The root of the problem goes so much deeper than white male dominance of Congress, the Senate, the Cabinet, CEOs. The root is that while most glass ceilings have been shattered in that women have achieved these positions, to stretch a metaphor we’ve not yet removed the glass shards that hinder other women from following.

    As a result, the majority of folks who have ended up building a resume to fit these positions tend to be white males. Are there qualified female candidates? Absolutely and we could do a much better job seeking them out. But more importantly, we could do a much better job allowing women to develop those strong resumes to begin with.

    Conflicted. I am it.

  9. princesspat

    And it feels good to say so!

    I enjoyed reading Andrew Sullivan’s opinion roundup re the Hagel nomination, Why Hagel Matters  http://andrewsullivan.thedaily

    Steve Bennen, from The Maddow Blog re the R’s huffing and puffing….

    There is, however, an unintended consequence to all of this chest-thumping: Republicans are making an excellent case for filibuster reform, just as Senate Democrats have to decide on how best to proceed.

    Charles P Pierce, just because he’s always fun to read…

    It is quite plain that the congressional Republicans have learned nothing from the fiscal-cliff fiasco, even less from the election in November, and that they’re just ignoring the fact entirely that their approval rating has to be studied with an electron microscope. The president and his people seem to be coming to the realization – belatedly, I will grant you – that there is no bargain to be struck with these people worth having. So, instead, because, like lice and Nickelback, he is more popular than this Congress, the president has adopted a new strategy, one that relies on the fact that the people seem to be on his side. He’s is now governing by wolf tickets.

    Read more: Daily Politics Blog – Charles P. Pierce – Political Blogging – Esquire

  10. The lack of diversity in institutional America is a result of not considering qualified applicants, and this administration need not defend itself on that score it has.  Any screaming about a lack of diversity is merely cynicism of a corporate media that is pretty non diverse itself and in the business of perpetuating both sides do it.  

    The President’s cabinet reflect the people he chooses to implement his policy, and i’m not applying any litmus test to it. My only real thought on who he chooses is to protect them from the inevitable shit storm the media will manufacture  because I understand the President’s policies and trust he will choose the correct people to implement them.

    I will say it’s not escaped my notice that some of the same institutions that allowed and helped Susan Rice be trashed, then placed the blame for the trashing on the Obama administration are now decrying this lack of diversity, and at this point I’m mostly ignoring them.

  11. Chacounne

    I will be contacting those on the Justice Committee to ask them to vote against him.

        Standing for justice and accountability,

                     For Dan,


  12. Mnemosyne

    staffed with competent people who have empathy, even sympathy, for those less fortunate/gifted/rich than one that is carefully balanced on the surface and is composed of sycophants who do nothing.

    The combo of Kerry and Hagel for State and Defense strikes me as a very interesting choice, two Vietnam vets running the two big departments, and maybe that’ll say something about this country and the possibility of moving into a post-all-military world.

  13. Moozmuse

    Re Cabinet: He should choose whom he wants, which will probably the best qualified people he/his staff can find for the policies he still is planning to implement. I really think he plans for the future, and can see the big picture, whereas I certainly cannot, and wouldn’t even try to. That’s not my strong point, but one of his.

    I have mixed feelings about one-termers, but can see the positives in both – experience vs. fresh ideas, and nuances thereof. I imagine the last four years have been very taxing for most of the administration, considering the huge problems left in the wake of Bush’s disastrous tenure, not to forget that Bush people were quickly promoted to permanent positions in many agencies in his last few months, so they couldn’t be replaced easily. That must have made a bad situation even harder to deal with.

    Apart from real objections I had to Geithner, whose selection I was dismayed by, I’m fine with the President’s choices. I think Holder is probably doing a lot more than he is given credit for, and Obama seems to like people around him who get the job he wants done accomplished, with little fanfare or drama. That’s a-ok in my book.

  14. fogiv

    apparantly, all you gotta do to get certain crusty white folks to care about diversity is elect a black prez.  twice.

  15. fcvaguy

    I trust Obama implicitly when it comes to picking his team. If people had doubts about him doing that job well, he would have never been elected.

    I do hope he finds room for Granholm. I like her and she was a good Governor in Michigan.

    I’m more annoyed by hearing that Kelly Clarkson will be singing at the Inauguration. She is a shameless Ron Paul supporter.  

  16. dear occupant

    my .02, i’m not particularly thrilled about Hagel for some of the same reasons mentioned upthread but i havn’t seen this one mentioned, so i thought i’d throw it in the mix.

    the President was well on his way in dispelling the Republican propaganda meme that R’s and only R’s are ‘good’ and ‘strong’ on defense issues. it’s been a pleasure not hearing that for a few years. i hope this doesn’t open the door for this baloney to begin again in 2016.

  17. auron renouille

    And I haven’t decided if I’m opposed or in favor – I think that people can change and I think that we spend too much time emphasizing one-time statements – doing that kind of high-level work means that you’re almost always on record and often working very hard.  I’m ready to accept that some people just fuck up.  I have before, but thankfully mine are not national news.

    What I don’t get is what Hagel brings Obama.  He’s not looking for a token Republican, Hagel has few Republican friends than a lot of Democrats at this point.  What does Hagel bring that’s special?  The only thing that I can think of (and this is rank speculation) is that perhaps he thinks that having a Vietnam vet at Defense during a period of intense demobilization may be important.

    Suppose we’re likely to find out once confirmation hearings commence.

  18. BlueStateRedhead

    Any one notice if before the NYT published the phone of the male circle of advisors from 12/29/12 on 1/09/12, under title, “Obama’s Remade Inner Circle Has an All-Male Look, So Far”, and while lthough CNN then corrected it, after that, the flood gates opened.

    So how new is this meme? Did it originate in right wing?

    A single google search shows one newspaper precedent, UK Daily Male, sorry, Mail, from 11 April 2012, “Women paid significantly less in Obama White House than their male counterparts” that argues salaries are lower.

    And yes, I will learn to embed. But right now, getting to converse with my first priority. Civility before Technology.  

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