(Bill Richardson, Kathleen Sebelius, Tim Geithner, Janet Napolitano, Eric Holder, Tom Daschle, Hillary Clinton)
Comparisons are inevitable in politics and news reporting, it makes for good drama and hence interesting news. Above are some of the people that Obama has supposedly selected for his cabinet (Commerce – Richardson, Agriculture – Sebelius, Treasury – Geithner, Homeland Security – Napolitano, Justice – Holder, Health and Human Services – Daschle, State – Clinton) even if he hasn’t officially announced it yet. The media has made much about comparisons to Bill Clinton’s transition time, specifically focusing on Clinton’s desire to have more than just white men in his cabinet and in his supposed haste (and carelessness) nominating unknown people who were not properly vetted and whose nominations were hastily withdrawn (see Lani Guinier, Kimba Wood, Zoe Baird). The unfortunate fact that they were all women only made matters worse, as Clinton was derided for his “affirmative action” appointment attempts.
That was 1992, 16 years ago. Setting aside the differences between Bill Clinton and Barak Obama, look at how far the political scene has come.
Not only is Obama being lauded for his smart choices (politically and policy wise) but he is able to pick from an incredibly talented pool of top Democrats who aren’t all white men. Janet Napolitano and Bill Richardson, both Latinos and governors; Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas is only one of 29 women to have been elected governor of a state; Hillary Clinton the first woman Senator of New York and only one of 35 women to ever have served in the U.S. Senate and the only woman to have had a serious chance of winning her party’s nomination; and Eric Holder will be the first African American to hold the position of U.S. Attorney General, the top law enforcer in the country, including civil rights.
Step back and take that all in. We’ve come a long way, but this didn’t just “happen.” Building a pipeline of new talent takes mentoring, commitment of resources and taking risks by those in power to bring others along. Call it affirmative action, quotas, or preferential treatment, doesn’t matter to me. What does matter is that creating a pool of qualified people not of the status quo doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen without tremendous effort.
So kudos to all the organizations and people who have made this possible. I’m so proud to see that work reflected in my current lifetime!
Love and Hugs!