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.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Christopher says:

    Liberals are the racists, because they try and fill the numbers just to fill the numbers. Conservatives don’t care about gender or skin color, they just want the best person for the job.

  2. Bill K says:

    Except when it comes to President of course.

  3. Christopher says:

    What are you talking about, Bill? I don’t know of any notable conservatives that would oppose Condi Rice running for the republican nomination for president. She’s a “black” “woman” you say? Hmmm…I was only thinking about the fact that she is a competent conservative member of the Bush administration.

  4. legion says:

    Competent? I’ve got a Presidential Daily Briefing here that says otherwise… In fact, Dick Cheney didn’t think she was so hot as Nat’l Security Advisor either – he tried to yank her NSC authority away from the beginning of this administration. And wasn’t there a brief period where she was given responsibility for runnin ght re-building of Iraq? Yeah, she’s got a lot of successes inder her belt… not.

    Of course, the lumber in your eye prevents you from grasping that Bill was talking about Bush, but whatev…

  5. anjin-san says:

    Bush is a conservative? LOL. The man spends like a thousand shopaholics on speed and has us engaged on a bloody, expensive and probably futile nation building exercise in Iraq.

    Conservatives are appalled.

  6. floyd says:

    didn’t they mean “not as perverse as clinton’s”

  7. Jem says:

    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.

    Won’t Madeline Albright and Janet Reno be surprised by that news! I’m sure they believed they had served, respectively, as SecState and Attorney General before “W” took the oath.

    I’d say my impression of the story is that the use of numbers does not in any way connote greater realism–at least when reading the WaPo…

  8. floyd says:

    so ” the content of their character” really doesn’t matter yet?