I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that “jihadism” is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, “…based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration.”
Hmmm. I thought Republicans were the ones opposed to identity politics and quotas? Let’s just check their party platform and….let’s see….aha, here it is: “Finally, because we are opposed to discrimination, we reject preferences, quotas, and set-asides based on skin color, ethnicity, or gender.”
Sorry, my mistake. There’s no mention of religious discrimination there, so I guess Mitt’s on solid ground. Quotas for Muslims are OK.
What’s really telling about this is that you can almost see the gears turning in his brain when he came up with this answer. Obviously he had to say “no,” because he knows that the Republican base would go nuts over the idea of a Muslim in his cabinet. But he can’t just say that, can he? So his Bain-trained analytic mind went searching for a plausible excuse and the first thing that popped out of the wetware was a numerical explanation: (a) minorities deserve cabinet positions in proportion to their population, (b) one cabinet position is 5% of all cabinet positions, (c) therefore only groups with at least 15 million members are “justified” in getting one, (d) Muslims aren’t even close to that, so (e) no dice. However, since they do make up about 2% of the population, they certainly qualify for 2% of all the lower level positions.
Any Tammany Hall ward heeler would understand the logic, but even Silent Charlie understood that this kind of thing wouldn’t fly at the presidential level, and that was nearly a century ago. Maybe Mitt should have stayed quiet too.