WASHINGTON (AP) — Deflecting criticism about a perceived lack of diversity in his second-term Cabinet, President Barack Obama on Monday urged Americans not to rush to judgment about who he will appoint to replace departing members of his team.
In a declaration tinged with the rhetoric of his re-election campaign, Obama asserted: “We’re not going backwards, we’re going forward.”
Scrutiny has been mounting over the number of women and minorities that will surround the nation’s first black president in his second term. Cabinet members who are departing at the end of his first term — including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — are being replaced largely by white males. But in the final White House news conference of his first term, Obama brushed off that criticism, asking for critics to hold their tongues until the remaining vacancies have been filled.
“I’m very proud that in the first four years, we had as diverse, if not a more diverse, White House and a Cabinet than any in history,” Obama said. “I intended to continue that, because it turns out when you look for the very best people, given the incredible diversity of this country, you’re going to end up with a diverse staff.”
Running through a list of high-profile positions filled by women during his first term — such as Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius — Obama said women comprised 50 percent of his White House staff during his first four years, not to mention the two women he nominated to fill Supreme Court vacancies.
Still, Obama’s appeal for patience was unlikely to quell the concerns of members of his own party who have publicly fretted whether Obama’s Cabinet and the tight cadre of advisers who will have his ear over the next four years will end up almost entirely male and white, in stark contrast to the diverse coalition of women, Hispanics and minorities that helped give Obama a second term.
“It’s as embarrassing as hell,” Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., one of the longest-serving African-American members of Congress, said last week.
Obama nominated Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry to replace Clinton at the State Department after U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who is black, asked for her name to be removed from consideration. Republicans had blasted Rice over her initial comments about the attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who is Hispanic, stepped down last week, adding to a list of departures that includes EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who is black. Obama has not yet announced who he will nominate to fill those roles. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is staying for Obama’s second term.
The president has announced his picks to fill two other top jobs, nominating former Sen. Chuck Hagel to run the Defense Department and Obama’s chief of staff, Jack Lew, to serve as treasury secretary. The two leading candidates to replace Lew at the White House are both male.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder, who is black, and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, who is of Japanese-American descent, will stay on, a White House official said last week. A spokesman for Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday that he too will keep his job in Obama’s second term.
An Education Department official also said Secretary Arne Duncan would remain in President Barack Obama’s Cabinet into a second term. That official disclosed the decision on the condition of anonymity because a public announcement had not been made.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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