Kasich doesn’t notice the contrast of white on white

KASICH DOESN’T NOTICE THE CONTRAST OF WHITE ON WHITE…. Ohio is a pretty large, diverse state. Someone probably ought to let its new governor know. (thanks to reader R.S. for the tip)

John Kasich, like any other chief executive, deserves an essentially free hand to choose his Cabinet and inner circle. After all, voters elected Kasich as Ohio’s 69th governor, and they will judge will him on how well his administration performs.

That said, it is disconcerting — in 2011 — to look at a composite of the 20 permanent state agency heads whom Kasich has hired so far and see only white faces and barely a handful of women.

Kasich, a former congressman, Wall Street executive, and Fox News personality, has hired 20 full-time agency directors to make up his cabinet. Of the 20, 16 are white men, four are white women. No African Americans, no Hispanics, no Asians.

Keep in mind, in the last half-century, Ohio has had 10 governors, most of whom have been Republicans. All of them had at least some racial diversity in their cabinet — until Kasich, who’s the first Ohio governor since 1962 to have so far picked an all-white cabinet.

It’s always best to be cautious before throwing around casual accusations of racism. That said, Kasich’s move is hard to understand, especially given the size and diversity of a state like Ohio.

Today, enlightened businesses and the U.S. military push their personnel officers to find candidates who reflect the robust racial, ethnic and gender mix of modern-day America. They understand that a workplace — from top to bottom — that includes people of many different backgrounds and experiences is a lot more likely to come up with the kind of creative, break-the-mold thinking that Kasich promised Ohio when he ran for governor.

Kasich quite correctly says that he wants the world to know that Ohio is open for business. But surrounding himself with department heads who don’t even look like Ohio — where the Census Bureau estimates that 15 percent of the population is nonwhite — let alone the United States or the global marketplace, has to make that a harder sell.

For his part, Kasich insists he doesn’t pay attention to “any of these sort of metrics.” As far as the governor is concerned, he has jobs to fill, and he went out and looked for the best person for the job.

But given the results, I’m curious: how hard did he look?