Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Howard Dean:

"If you look at folks of color, even women, they're more successful in the Democratic party than they are in the white, uh, excuse me, in the [laughs] Republican party."

What an absurd, Orwellian statement. I'm trying to think of men and women of color who held senior positions in the last Democrat administration (Clinton), and honestly I'm struggling to name very many. In fact, I had to resort to this list to refresh my memory, which is evidence of just how uninfluential these people were in Clinton's administration.

By reference to the list, we learn that Clinton appointed the following African-Americans to Cabinet positions:

Ron Brown, Secretary of Commerce
Rodney Slater, Secretary of Transportation
Hazel O'Leary, Secretary of Energy
Jesee Brown, Secretary of Veteran's Affairs
Togo West, Secretary of Veteran's Affairs

Does anyone remember any of these people (other than perhaps Ron Brown)? I sure don't.

So, we have one black female appointed to Clinton's Cabinet, and she held the relatively low-profile position of Secretary of Energy. There were only 4 other appointments of African-Americans to Cabinet positions, all of whom played low-profile roles. The only other significant appointment of an Africa-American that I can recall was Joycelyn Elders as US Attorney General. Clinton had no black National Security Advisor, no black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and no black Supreme Court appointments.

By contrast, the two most recent Republican Presidents appointed blacks to the very highest profile and most important positions in our government. For instance, both of the last two Secretaries of State were black (Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice). Bush Sr. previously appointed Powell to the highest position in our military (Chairman of the Joint Chief's of Staff), and Reagan had previously named Powell National Security Advisor. Rice also served as National Security Advisor under Bush Jr. prior to her appointment as Secretary of State. And, our only sitting black Supreme Court Justice was appointed by a Republican (Bush Sr.).

Bush Jr. appointed Roderick Paige as Secretary of Education, and at one point his most senior domestic policy advisor was African-American. In addition to placing an African-American over our military and appointing an African-American to the Supreme Court, Bush Sr. also appointed Louis Sullivan as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

So, does Howard Dean's assertion that "folks of color, even women..., are more successful in the Democratic party..." have any basis in reality? Well, it depends on how you define success, I guess.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin offers some related thoughts.

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