The President’s Second Term

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    While President Barack Obama gets ready for a historic second term, he is quietly under siege, for the lack of diversity at the top of his Cabinet.

    President Obama made women’s issues core to his reelection campaign and has named John F. Kerry as secretary of state, Chuck Hagel at Defense and John Brennan at the top of the CIA — who were all white men. Last week, the New York Times ran its own story featuring a photo from the Oval Office of the president’s top group of advisers.

    Meanwhile, Bloomberg View columnist Margaret Carlson offered the ultimate critique with an op-ed titled “Obama to Romney: Send me your Binders Full of Women,” writing that “at the rate he is going, Obama is going to have a Cabinet that looks more like the Augusta National Golf Club than America.”

    Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), the second-longest serving African-American congressman in the House, criticized the lack of diversity in the president’s second-term.

    “It’s as embarrassing as hell,” Rangel said on MSNBC’s “Jansing & Co.” of Obama’s top picks. “We’ve been through all of this with Mitt Romney. And we were very hard on Mitt Romney with the women binder and a variety of things.”

    “I kinda think there’s no excuse when it’s the second term. If it’s the first term, you could see people got to know who is around and qualified in order to get this job, number one,” he continued.

    “I had thought that it could be the Harvard problem where people just know each other, trust each other. And women and minorities don’t get a chance to rub elbows and their reputations and experience is not known … so in the second term, these people should be just as experienced as anybody, any other American.”

    Obama’s picks for Treasury, State and Defense are all white men. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leaving, as is Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. A photo of Obama’s inner circle highlighted by The New York Times showed just one woman addressing the president, Valerie Jarrett. The Times reported that about 43 percent of Obama’s appointees have been women, about the same as President Bill Clinton but about 10 percent more than President George W. Bush.

    Zack Burgess is the Senior Writer for the Chronicle. He can be contacted at and followed on Twitter @zackburgess1

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