Back in November, when an overwhelming majority of Latino voters extended President Barack Obama's lease to remain in the White House four more years, no one would have believed what happened this week. Yet when Obama hosted the first Cabinet meeting of his second administration Monday, for the first time in recent history, a president headed a Cabinet that could soon be left without a single Latino.
Granted, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is still on the job, but he resigned on Jan. 17, his replacement has been named, and he is expected to return home to Colorado next month. And the other Hispanic in Obama's first-term Cabinet, former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who resigned Jan 9., already has been replaced by an acting labor secretary.
This inexcusable underrepresentation of the Latino population and their interests has gone mostly unnoticed by today's highly partial news media because those on the left have been covering for the president and those on the right don't have a single Latino appointment to complain about.
Since the right-wing media demagogues normally claim that Obama panders to Latinos, you are not going to hear them complaining about a Latino-less Cabinet.
And yet following the most recent appointments Obama has made to his second-term Cabinet, some in the so-called mainstream media, as if they were publicists for Obama, claim that the president is "potentially quelling criticism about the lack of diversity among his Cabinet nominations."
Amazingly that's what one news agency reported Monday because, after surrounding himself with a mostly white male inner circle, the president had named two more women to the Cabinet. Sylvia Burwell was nominated to head the Office of Management and Budget, and Gina McCarthy to run the Environmental Protection Agency. MIT physicist Ernest Moniz, whose grandparents were Portuguese and is not considered Hispanic, also was named to be Energy Secretary. Titled "More diversity among Obama's latest Cabinet nominees," the article didn't mention that when Salazar leaves his post next month, the Cabinet could be left without Latinos for the first time in more than two decades!
When Obama named a Latina, Edith Ramirez, as chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission last week, some media outlets deceivingly reported that her appointment "could calm some criticism of Obama, who was attacked after his first three cabinet appointments in his second term went to white men. ..." And yet few of them explained that the FTC chair is not a Cabinet position!
Here's the scorecard: While various national Latino organizations have been calling on Obama to appoint three or at least two Latinos to the Cabinet — to match the average of recent administrations including Obama's first term — so far we have zero. Zilch. Nada!
"I would just suggest that everybody kind of wait until they've seen all my appointment — who is in the White House staff and who is in my cabinet — before they rush to judgment," Obama said in a Jan. 14 news conference. And yet more than a month several nominations later, the new Cabinet already is meeting with many new faces, none of which are Hispanic.
Mind you, there are many Latinos qualified for the few Cabinet positions that still need to be filled — including Secretaries of Labor, Transportation, Commerce, and U.S. Trade Representative. And there are many names that have been suggested to the White House by Latino community leaders, including Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Francisco J. Sanchez, the current under secretary of Commerce for International Trade.
But Obama is running out of Cabinet jobs to give out, and in the Hispanic community, his delay in selecting Latinos is becoming inexplicable. People know that by now, even Mitt Romney might have done better!
Does Obama think that just talking about immigration reform is enough to satisfy Latino voters — even if they get no seats at the Cabinet table?
Esta loco? Has he lost his mind? Has he forgotten his commitment to diversity? Who is the Latino advising the president?
Oh, that's right! He is going from few to none.
To find out more about Miguel Perez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.