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1:28pm April 26, 2012

Obama, Bush or Clinton: Who Put More Blacks at the Top?

Obama,_Bush,_and_Clinton_discuss_the_2010_Haiti_earthquake

There is an ongoing discussion regarding Black hiring in the Obama Administration and this 2012 campaign begs the question: How does President Obama rank when compared to Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush with regard to the number of Blacks hired for top jobs in his Administration?

The current tally:

  • Obama 4 (in 3 years, 4 months)
  • Clinton 9 (in 8 years)
  • Bush 6 (in 8 years)

 

To be in the President’s cabinet means having the power to oversee billion dollar budgets and thousands of jobs.  Near the end of his first term, President Obama currently has one African American in a top level cabinet position: Attorney General Eric Holder.  Holder oversees a budget of $27 billion and over 111,000 employees after the President appointed the first Black Attorney General in history.

Though the United Nations Ambassador, U.S. Trade Representative and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator are not technically members of the President’s 15 person cabinet, all three are top high ranking positions frequently referred to as “cabinet level.” The difference between cabinet and non-cabinet or “cabinet-level” is considerable in terms of budgets and staff.  President Obama has hired three African Americans to these positions.  Lisa Jackson is the EPA Administrator, Ron Kirk is the U.S. Trade Representative and Susan Rice is the UN Ambassador. In total, President Obama has hired four African Americans to top positions in less than 4 years.

When President Clinton took office in 1993, he appointed five African Americans to his cabinet.  He appointed: Mike Espy as Secretary of Agriculture; Ron Brown as Secretary of Commerce; Hazel O’Leary as Secretary of Energy; Jesse Brown as Secretary of Veteran Affairs; and Lee Brown as his Drug Czar.  Though the office of the Drug Czar was a cabinet level position in 1993 it is no longer.

The five Clinton appointments in 1993 represented a first in U.S. history and the largest number of Blacks in high ranking positions ever up to that time.  Never before had an African American held any of the four positions previously at Commerce, Agriculture, Energy and Veterans Affairs.

Over eight years, Clinton would appoint four more African Americans to his cabinet. He appointed: Alexis Herman as Secretary of Labor; Rod Slater as his Secretary of Transportation; and Togo West as Secretary of Veterans Affairs.  Clinton also appointed Franklin Raines as his director of Office of Management and Budget. Clinton also appointed Eric Holder as Deputy Attorney General. In total, President Clinton appointed 9 African Americans to the top positions in his Administration before leaving office.

When George W. Bush took office in 2001, he appointed three African Americans to his Cabinet.  He nominated the first African American Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and the first African American National Security Adviser, Condi Rice.  Eric Holder was acting Attorney General for only a few months – but Bush never intended to appoint Holder to Attorney General and instead nominated former Senator John Ashcroft.  Bush also appointed Rod Paige as his Education Secretary and Alphonso Jackson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Affairs.  Over eight years, President Bush appointed six Blacks to top positions in his cabinet over eight years.

Bush would later appoint Condi Rice as Secretary of State and do something only one other President (Bill Clinton) had done: Appoint two African Americans in a row to a cabinet position. President Clinton appointed Jesse Brown and then Togo West as his Secretaries of Veteran Affairs.  Should President Obama win a second term there is likely to be turnover in his cabinet next year and many more appointments thereafter.

LAUREN VICTORIA BURKE, Politic365 Chief Congressional Correspondent, publishes the blog Crewof42 on the Congressional Black Caucus.  She is heard every Tuesday on WMCS 1290 in Milwaukee on Earl Ingram’s show The Evening Rush as well as on WHUR and WPFW in Washington DC. You can e-mail her at LBurke007@gmail.com follow her on twitter at @crewof42.



About the Author

Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke is a writer and political analyst. She created the blog Crewof42, a blog that covers African American members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke appears regularly on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin and on WHUR, WURD, and WVON. Ms. Burke has enjoyed employment at USAToday.com and ABC News. She holds a B.A. in History from The American University. E-mail anytime: LBurke007@gmail.com. Twitter: @Crewof42




 
 

 
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44 Comments


  1. guest

    "begs the question" is the opposite of "calls for the question." Why can't journalists get this right?


  2. Taurus

    No, you're confusing grammar with logic. "Begs the question" was used entirely correctly in the context of this piece; the history of the phrase as a description of logical fallacy is a separate issue from the proper and appropriate use of those three English words in a sentence.


    • Michael

      I'm sorry, but the first person had it correct. "Raises the question" is what the author should have written. "Begs the question" refers to the logical fallacy, as you rightly mentioned, but its meaning is distinctly its own. To say that it is grammatically correct is to allow the degradation of language. Words have meaning. Writers should be the most protective of that.


  3. Rob

    Why does this matter? Who freaking cares what ethnicity someone is so long as they can do the job they are hired to do! If a black man, an asian woman, a mexican chick, and a white dude (ad naseum) can do the job, then make the competition for the position much tougher and pick the PERSON (i.e. human being) that will do the BEST job. That is all that matters.

    Hiring a person b/c of their skin color is a) racist against other people & b) has a chance of putting someone stupid and unreliable in the position. Base a person off of their talents, their intellect, and their experience; not their ethnicity.


  4. Sherm

    Operation Fast and Furious has shown Bush was right about not keeping Eric Holder around.


  5. tatiana

    i say that Clinton put more black on top


  6. I see Ms. Burke is pushing Gov. Wilder's talking points which were proven false by Joy-Ann Reid of The Reid Report: http://blog.reidreport.com/2011/12/how-gov-wilder


    • Gloria Reynolds

      Right notice that Reid had to use UNDER SECRETARIES to PACK THE NUMBERS for the OBAMA ADMINISTRATION. Why won't they just release the stats on who they have hired??? Why didn't Reid simply use the Cabinet secretary numbers. I wonder WHY?


    • LOL not sure what you're complaining about… With 4 appointments Pres Obama is on par to have over the number Clinton had but that didn't stop you from defending him anyway for no reason.


    • Ms Karen Gardner

      Yes Black people don't dare ask this President for anything after you've given someone 97% of your vote. Shut your mouth like Sepia and enjoy the grinning and the celebrity bull while Black Americans remain at the bottom of every category. Don't dare ask that he hire anyone who looks like you to a top position. Just enjoy his grin and the cute kids and shut up. Meanwhile when gays, jews and hispanics and everyone else DEMAND THINGS AND THEY GET IT — you can look back at Obama's years in office later and realize how stupid you were to ask for absolutely nothing.


      • You're whining about President Obama not hiring "anyone who looks like you to a top position" but Joy-Ann Reid's article shows that POTUS has hired Black people to top positions.

        Or maybe it's that YOU weren't hired? Hmm…


        • Reid is a fake journalist who use to work for Barack Obama's campaign and is now on MSNBC to promote her former boss. Is that objective reporting. Just like you she thinks this mother walks on damn water. No President walks on water. LIKE I SAID —->>>> Please everyone read Bruce Dixon and Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report. This article is nothing. READ IT NOW —–> http://blackagendareport.com/


    • This has nothing to do with Doug Wilder. Who did JoAnn Reid use to work for. Which campaign—- everyone take a guess.


    • EbonyEye

      I love the fools who defend this President no matter what. Hate the Republicans but let's not be delusional.


  7. Guest

    I hope no one is actually paying to have this lady write columns for their websites. If so, such a waiste of money for opioniated useless stats like this. I thought the whole point of equal opportunity was not to base whether or not you will hire someone off the color of their skin or ethnicity.


  8. Lynne

    Poor Lauren has stooped to being Hammond Maxwell's wench. How pathetic.


  9. i think obama should be re elected again not cause of color but he care about people of americamore than anyone he doing a good job better than busg lease he doesnt steal money an i like how he go after rich people to make them pay their fare share of tax live everyone else


  10. Neil

    Wrong metric folks.

    The question should be, "How many qualified people these presidents put into positions of power?".

    The follow up question is," Given the costs incurred, rank the presidents on the value they provided versus the money they (spent, consumed, printed, borrowed)."

    So far, none of the three left office with the country more optimistic than when they entered. In fact, the optimism of the later two is that they will not come back.


    • Right.
      Like George Bush was "qualified" to go to Yale. He got in because of dad.
      Like Robert Kennedy was "qualified" to be AG.
      Like Clarence Thomas was qualified?
      Stop acting like factors such as qualifications are always considered. They are not.


  11. DLD

    Can we get a count of the Black Judges for each?????????????


  12. [...] In total, President Obama has hired four African Americans to top positions in less than 4 years.Read more… You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.You can leave a response, or [...]


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  15. So we compare 8-years of Clinton & 8 years of Bush with only 3.5 years of Obama… yeah, Fair & Balanced right!


    • Yes, it is fair, we can do math. Obama is behind Clinton because Obama appointed four his first term… Clinton appointed five his first term. Bush appointed six in two terms. Was it a race to see who could appoint the most blacks first? Does the number Bush appointed equal racism if it is less than what Clinton and Obama did? This is a pointless comparison. How about how many blacks were enrolled in universities for each President, the unemployment figures and the number in jail.


    • Elliott thats all the data that is currently available as Obama has only served nearly 4 years…I’m sure the numbers will be updated over time… Why do minorities automatically jump to conclusion they are being treated unfairly or turn everything into a race issue???


  16. The point here has nothing to do with race. It has to do with how those blacks that moves to the top echelon of society view other blacks. This is specifically attributable to Black man. Obama’s strategy of appointing fewer black people, especially black men is indicative of what you see in Corporate America. In most cases, black men in United States who get to top positions in American society, has a hard time appointing other qualified black men into visible positions. When you ask them why, the answer you get is that they do not want to be seen as patronizing other people, specifically black men regardless of qualification. Obama is following the script. Though, I voted for Obama, but I bet you John McCain and Mitt Romney would have appointed more blacks to high positions of authority than Obama. Race should not be the key indices of appointment, but in this case and in other cases I experienced in corporate America, race is the case with most black men in corporate America. If you are a black man trying to climb the corporate ladder, your probability of being promoted or appointed is better with a white man than with black men or other minority groups. President Obama need to realize that it may take another 50 to 100 years before another man of black extraction become President of United States. Based Obama’s appointments, it appears he is comfortable with black men in his cabinet. Let us be honest, Obama has only one Black man in his cabinet and he is Eric Holder. The other appointments are not cabinet secretaries. I hope he takes a clue from this article and make amend.


  17. [...] known fact – President George W. Bush appointed Eric Holder as acting Attorney General in 2001. Obama, Bush or Clinton: Who Put More Blacks at the Top? | Politic365 President Bush appointed five black cabinet members – Collin Powell and Condalezza Rice(Secretary [...]


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  20. d becher

    One needs to look at this with complete 360 line of sight and not just top appointments. This should filter down to all department heads, czars, and other advisors, special favors and kickbacks. For example, “giving” a “NO BID” $678 million contract for the Obamacare Healthcare.gov system development to CGI Federal – whose Senior VP, Toni Townes-Whitley, was a Princeton classmate (class of ’85) of Michelle’s. She and her husband were also major donors to the Obama campaign. Chicago style politics.


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