Cabinet diversity, redux

CABINET DIVERSITY, REDUX…. There’s been some discussion about the diversity of Barack Obama’s cabinet when it comes to gender, race, ethnicity, and even geography, but Matt Yglesias highlights a development that’s gone largely unnoticed.

It seems Barack Obama is giving us a cabinet with no Jewish members. Plenty of Jews in non-cabinet top spots (Axelrod, Summers, Orszag) so I guess we’ll have to just run things from behind the scenes. I think that was also the case at the beginning of the Dubya administration, though now we have Chertoff.

I must be slipping — as was the case with the omission of Southerners from Obama’s team, I hadn’t noticed this.

I’d add, though, that Matt refers to “non-cabinet top spots,” but the director of the Office of Management and Budget is considered cabinet-level, and the office will be filled by Peter Orzag, who is Jewish. Moreover, Rahm Emanuel is Jewish, and as White House CoS, he attends cabinet meetings, making his job kinda sorta cabinet-level.

Plus, the roles Axelrod and Summers will play aren’t exactly chopped liver. Axelrod, as a special assistant to the president, will have real clout in the West Wing, and Lawrence Summers, as the director of National Economic Council, will have a major impact on the president’s approach to the economy.

So, no cabinet spots per se, but not bad, either.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.