Minority Appointments: Bush vs. Clinton
WaPo headlines a story about an OPM report on “diversity” within presidential cabinets “Bush’s Appointees Not As Diverse as Clinton’s.” The story itself tells a different story:
Women made up about 37 percent of the 2,786 political appointees in the Bush administration in 2005, compared with about 47 percent in the Clinton administration in 1997, according to the report and supplemental data released last week by the Democratic staff of the House Government Reform Committee. Similarly, about 13 percent of Bush administration appointees last year were racial minorities, compared with 24 percent in the fifth year of Clinton’s presidency, the report found.
What the report does not mention, however, is that Bush has established a record of diversity in his Cabinet. Bush’s Cabinet, which includes the vice president and the heads of 15 executive departments, currently has two Hispanics, two African Americans and two Asian Americans. Three departments — State, Education and Labor — are headed by women, and a fourth, Interior, has an acting secretary who is a woman.
Before Bush took office, no minority had occupied any of the four highest-profile Cabinet positions — attorney general and the secretaries of the Defense, State and Treasury departments. Now, Alberto R. Gonzales, a Hispanic, is attorney general. Condoleezza Rice is the first African American woman to be secretary of state; her predecessor, Colin L. Powell, was the first African American named to that post.
Someone reading only the headline would certainly have a different view than those who read a few paragraphs into the story. One could argue either way as to whether raw numbers or prestige is more important but certainly the analysis is not as straightforward as the headline suggests.
Further, given that presidents tend to appoint partisans to these vacancies, it’s hardly surprising that the Democrat will appoint more women, blacks, and Hispanics. After all, ninety-odd percent of blacks vote Democrat as do a majority of women and Hispanics.