By Taylor Armerding
— Good thing we've got more important issues to discuss about President Obama's cabinet choices than trivialities like national security, terrorism, the endless war in Afghanistan, a nuclear Iran, an increasingly aggressive North Korea and China, our disastrous fiscal plight, and unemployment still close to 8 percent.
What's really important is how many of the president's picks are boys and how many are girls. We have so few fundamental problems here in the U.S. that we have the luxury to fuss about gender balance.
All you had to do was read the New York Times this past week for instruction in what our priorities should be. In a story written by a woman with research help from two women and one man (a glaring imbalance), the paper noted that at a meeting of Obama's top economic advisers, all 10 were male. It noted that he is putting together a national security team "dominated by men," and then continued with an in-depth analysis of gender in administration appointments, concluding that it was better than that of President George W. Bush, but "no better" than that of President Bill Clinton.
It wasn't just the Times - it was all over other major newspapers and network television, and there was much tweeting and twittering on social media.
All of which led to the delicious irony of White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, confronted for once by an aggressive press demanding that he explain such grievous discrimination. Carney paid extravagant lip service to diversity but concluded, "in the end, (the president will) make the choice that he believes is best for the United States."
Whaaaat? How could Carney make such an absurd statement? How could any right-thinking person believe that what is best for the United States is to pick the best-qualified people, without regard to their gender, age, ethnic background, or sexual preference? How could it be best for the country to have more men than women in positions of power?
Perhaps Carney, as a white male, is too dim to understand. But he speaks for the president, who only has half an excuse. He must be listening to his white half. He needs to get in touch with his black half, and be reminded that the only way to represent the best interests of the country is to have an administration that exactly reflects the percentage of women, gays, lesbians, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Arabs, Native Americans, Indians, Inuits, etc. in the national population.
This could be an ominous signal. What if Obama's last term was his "black" term, and his second will be his "white" term?
Irony aside, whatever the response from Obama to these complaints, it is at least momentarily refreshing to see him rudely reminded that if you live by the politically correct sword, you can die by it as well, or at least suffer some unkind cuts.
In short, he deserves whatever grief he gets from this.
Sure, it's much more substantive to discuss, as some have tried, what this means for Obama's second term, since he appears to be surrounding himself with allies instead of the alleged "team of rivals" in his first term.
It is much more substantive to discuss whether Sen. John Kerry, Obama's pick for secretary of state, or former senator Chuck Hagel, his pick for defense secretary, will improve or degrade the nation's standing in the world, given their aversion to the use of American power.
But the president has spent far too much time in his first term, and especially in the campaign, dividing citizens by whatever means he thinks will help him politically - income, race, gender, and sexual preference. It was only a few years, but it seems like forever ago that Obama declared, "There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America - there is the United States of America."
As his actions since have shown, that was nothing but a cheap applause line.
So he should get ready for four years of trying to corral the Divided States of America.
He's encouraged people to see themselves as identity groups who need to fight other identity groups to get theirs. He should not be surprised at the lack of graciousness displayed by the "historic" group of 20 female senators who gathered recently to talk with ABC news anchor Diane Sawyer. It is great that they were all elected - they were the choice of voters in their respective states - but instead of talking about trying to unify the country and represent all citizens in their states, they spoke of how superior women are in government - about what a good thing it will be to have "less testosterone" in the Senate.
I seem to recall feminists in years past taking great offense to the suggestion that men and women were different. I guess what this means is that it's OK for men and women to be different as long as women are seen as better.
In any case, Obama has been put on notice - as a man, he has too much testosterone. And that is not good for the country.
He shouldn't complain. This is the kind of thinking he has promoted.
- Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at email@example.com.