Sabato ‘stunned’ about the South

SABATO ‘STUNNED’ ABOUT THE SOUTH…. As part of my ongoing fascination with complaints about the lack of Southerners in the Obama cabinet, I found Larry Sabato’s analysis of the dynamic especially odd.

“Obama scored a tremendous advance for Democrats in winning the three large Southern states and ignored them,” says Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. “I’m just stunned. It was the one grouping completely ignored.” […]

“There really ought to be one (cabinet post) from each state,” says Sabato. “These are three really big prizes, and they’re tenuous. None of these states is guaranteed for a Democrat in the future.”

Really? We’ll need to more than double the size of the president’s cabinet, just to make sure that every state is represented? Heaven forbid two great officials come from the same state — one will be disqualified on the basis of geography. (“I’m sorry, Hilda Solis, you’d be a fantastic a Labor Secretary, but I’m afraid Steven Chu lives in California. You can either move to a new state or wait for California’s cabinet slot to open up sometime in the future.”)

I know these inside-baseball considerations matter to those of us who are engaged in politics at the granular level, but the notion that a Democratic president may or may not do well four years from now in Southern states based on cabinet selections is pretty silly. Exactly how many voters in Virginia and/or North Carolina are prepared to base their vote, not on how well the administration performs, but on the geographic backgrounds of the administration’s cabinet members?

This has quickly become ridiculous. Ron Kirk is from Texas, Carol Browner is from Florida, Robert Gibbs hails from North Carolina, and Bob Gates was in Texas before he was in D.C. Bizarre theories from the Associated Press notwithstanding, there is no coordinated effort to exclude Americans south of the Mason-Dixon line from the president-elect’s team. Some Southerners are on the team, some were eyed for the cabinet but withdrew from consideration, and some considered but weren’t picked.

This notion that somehow Southerners have become an underrepresented minority, deserving of affirmative action and a quota system, is absurd.

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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.