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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.

By Web Politics Editor  |  December 1, 2008; 6:25 PM ET
Categories:  Cabinet  
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Next: The Morning After


I'd rather "clog up the courts" to clear this matter up than frivolous PI lawsuits. That being said, it should be no hassle for Obama to produce his LONG FORM birth certificate, right? has not seen that.

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2008 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Oh, for crying out loud... This birth certificate thing has been debunked over and over and over. Personally, I think it was pretty clever of someone in Obama's family to manage to sneak a birth notice into the "Honolulu Advertiser" newspaper on Aug. 13, 1961, just in case the newborn baby ever decided to run for President as an adult.

Alan Keyes might have "standing," since he was a presidential candidate this year for the Constitution Party (and garnering just over 41,000 votes nationwide). However, he has NO credibility.

I understand that there are people who are upset that Obama won the election. However, he IS a natural-born citizen. This garbage is a waste of time and taxpayers' money, and does nothing but clog up the courts.

Posted by: dcgrasso1 | December 2, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Alan Keyes (who does have standing) filed a lawsuit against Obama out here in California.

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse


Good point.

Posted by: JakeD | December 1, 2008 11:16 PM | Report abuse


Obama Fomenting A Constitutional Crisis:

Constitutional Lawyer Discusses Ramifications Of Controversy -- By John P. Connolly, The Bulletin

Controversy continues to surround President-elect Barack Obama's eligibility to serve as president, and a case involving his birth certificate waits for its day before the U.S. Supreme Court. A constitutional lawyer said were it to be discovered that Mr. Obama is not a natural-born U.S. citizen, it would have grave consequences for the nation.

Posted by: AJAX2 | December 1, 2008 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Now that Hillary has made nice and joined Barack's team of strong willed people, Barack owes her a favor. Perhaps he should do that favor by naming the most obviously qualified person he can to be Ambassador to the Court of St James. Someone with major creds, an international reputation, great distinction. And, were Barack to name Bill to such an important post, he would simultaneously get just a little more control over the big guy.

Posted by: ceflynline | December 1, 2008 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Needless to say, George W. Bush did not come into office with a "war Cabinet". I'm not sure what is necessarily the advantage to female Cabinet members. Nonetheless, even apart from the historic first with Dr. Rice as SecState, he did nominate more women to Cabinet posts: Margaret Spellings (Education), Elaine Chao (Labor), and Mary Peters (Transportation). United States
Trade Representative, Ambassador Susan Schwab, is also Cabinet-level. Marianne Lamont Horinko served as Acting Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from July 14, 2003 to November 5, 2003 during his first term.

BTW: didn't EMILY's List refuse to endorse McCain-PALIN during the most recent election?

Posted by: JakeD | December 1, 2008 7:45 PM | Report abuse

So, the new African-American female Rice is that unique because she's TWO YEARS younger than Condoleezza Rice was at the time? Bill Clinton had a woman SecState, and George Bush had a black SecState. This is what the WaPo has been reduced to?!

Posted by: JakeD | December 1, 2008 7:13 PM | Report abuse

If the politically correct WaPo had not pointed out the diversity I would not have noticed it. My response to all this diversity is I sure hope they all know what they are doing and especially in Clinton's case I sure hope she does not need to behave like a prima dona.

Posted by: Gator-ron | December 1, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse

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