A Diverse War Cabinet for Obama
By Philip Rucker
President-elect Barack Obama today introduced a war cabinet that is more diverse than any other president's in recent history, appointing three women and two African Americans to his top national security and foreign policy posts. But the six individuals officially nominated by Obama mirror the national security slates of the last three presidents in one key demographic: age.
Obama appointed a record number of women to his top national security posts -- Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state, Janet Napolitano as secretary of homeland security and Susan Rice as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. When he took office in 2001, President Bush named just one woman, Condoleezza Rice, as national security adviser. His father, former president George H. W. Bush, filled all of his posts with white men. Former President Bill Clinton had two women on his first national security team: Janet Reno as attorney general and Madeleine Albright as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
It comes as no surprise, then, that EMILY's List president Ellen R. Malcolm issued a statement to "strongly commend" Obama for nominating "exceptional women to top posts on his national security team."
Obama appointed two African Americans -- Rice and Eric H. Holder Jr., who would be the first black to be attorney general. While Clinton and the elder Bush had no minorities on their first national security slate, the current President Bush began his presidency with two blacks: Rice and Gen. Colin Powell as secretary of state.
The average age of Obama's six national security nominees is 57.1, which puts the president-elect squarely in line with President Bush, Clinton and George H.W. Bush, whose first war cabinet nominees had average ages of 58.5, 56.6 and 56.2 respectively.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, who will be Obama's national security adviser, will be the eldest members of Obama's national security team. Both will be 65 at the inauguration. But previous administrations have had older nominees. Donald H. Rumsfeld was 68 when Bush named him defense secretary, and Warren M. Christopher was 67 when Clinton named him secretary of state.
At 44, Susan Rice will be the youngest member of a president's first national security team in at least two decades, besting the record set by Condoleezza Rice, who was 46 when she was named national security adviser.
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