Jewish World Review Dec. 26, 2000/ 29 Kislev 5761
Guess who's whining about Bush's Cabinet of Diversity?
AS HE BEGINS his transition and nominates the most diverse Cabinet in U.S. history, president-select George W. Bush really can't win for losing. No matter how hard he tries -- or how fast he walks the walk -- the nemesis hordes won't let go.
At last count, Bush had appointed two blacks, two Hispanics, including one Cuban and one Mexican-American, and two women. And, of course, no one's happy.
Not Democrats, not Republicans, not women, not blacks. No word yet from Hispanics, but the transition is young. We can safely bet, meanwhile, that were this exotic rainbow Cabinet the handiwork of a Gore transition team, only half of America would be weeping into their Prairie Beer. The rest would be high-fivin' and patting their humble little hearts through the Ides of March.
Blacks aren't happy with the black appointees because they're only Token Blacks. Women aren't happy with the women appointees because they're not quite feminist enough (too coiffed?), or not pro-choice enough or, if they are, not sufficiently positioned to influence social policy.
Liberals aren't happy because it's their job not to be happy. Conservatives aren't happy because Bush is acting like a moderate (he never said he wouldn't), and they want their agenda, dammit! No choice, no affirmative action, no compromise.
Most curious among the irreconcilably unhappy are African-Americans, who, with the appointment of retired Army Gen. Colin Powell to secretary of state, should be buying confetti by the tractor-trailer load. Nope. Powell may be black, but he's one of "those."
As a black student quoted in Thursday's Wall Street Journal put it, "Any black man who rises to the rank of general in the white man's army has to be an 'Uncle Tom'."
It's true, of course, that male soldiers who rise to the top in the Army (thus far, there's only one) have to say "Yessir" a lot, but it's a military thing. Whites have to do it, too. Never mind that Powell is one of the most admired Americans of all time, a war hero and respected spokesman -- albeit rhyme-free -- for self-sufficiency and sacrifice.
Despite his humble beginnings in the South Bronx, Powell has never been a victim nor a whiner, never thrown himself a pity-party, never asked for anything but the opportunity to prove himself. Ditto Condoleeza Rice, the first female, not to mention black female, to be appointed national security adviser. What's wrong with this woman?
"Too white," they say. We might ask what that means while pretending it's not racist. That she prefers classical piano to rap music? Could we possibly make her queen?
We could have expected similar protests had Floyd Flake, an African-American minister, not withdrawn from consideration for secretary of education. Flake, like anyone else Bush is likely to select, favored vouchers, which Official Black America opposes despite the fact that 80 percent of actual blacks favor school choice and that vouchers benefit minorities more than anyone else.
Well-to-do white children, after all, are already enjoying better educations in private schools or in public schools better-situated in upper-scale neighborhoods. But certain self-anointed Black Spokesmen oppose school choice on grounds, well, who can figure?
School choice is, in fact, the ultimate affirmative-action program, as African-American Mikel Holt, author of Not Quite Free At Last, recently told an audience of parents in the South Bronx whose children attend private schools using privately funded vouchers.
But facts, as reporters well know, can sometimes get in the way of a good story. Bush so far is factually unassailable by virtue of his doing precisely what he promised: uniting by inclusion, appointing blacks, women and other minorities to positions they've never held before.
Yet almost certainly his transition and administration will be nibbled to death by dividers who can't stand prosperity, unless, of course, it's exclusively their
JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.
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