Stephanopoulos on Cabinet: 'Diversity and Competence without Any Tokenism'

ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday night hailed President-elect Barack Obama's cabinet, pointing to how his national security team is made up of “coalition builders,” including Hillary Clinton, before praising Obama for how “he has also kept his promise of reaching out beyond Washington for change with younger reformers like Shaun Donovan at HUD, Arne Duncan at Education and Lisa Jackson at the EPA.” (All could just as well be described as big city Democratic political hacks.) Thus, ABC's chief Washington correspondent decided:
He’s managed to get this diversity and competence without engaging in any tokenism.
But then Stephanopoulos recited Obama's political tokenism, pointing out how he “picked people in the cabinet with an eye towards fast-growing voter groups” as two cabinet nominations went to Hispanics and two to Asians and three choices were purely about electoral politics, not competence: “The Southwest has been a real prime target area, and look what the President-elect has done. He’s picked Governor Napolitano of Arizona, Governor Richardson of New Mexico, Senator Salazar of Colorado, trying to lock in gains in those three key states.”

Anchor Charles Gibson noted “there’s still some grumbling, isn’t there, from various political groups about what he’s doing?” Stephanopoulos agreed “liberals are upset, saying that they’re not well-represented in the cabinet” while “some women’s groups are saying that he is not doing as well with women as Bill Clinton did.”

Stephanopoulos has long been enamored with Obama's cabinet. Just before Thanksgiving, he oozed: “We have not seen this kind of combination of star power and brain power and political muscle this early in a cabinet in our lifetimes.”

A November 24 NewsBusters posting by Scott Whitlock, “Stephanopoulos: Obama Cabinet Unparalleled in 'Brain Power,'” recounted:
Good Morning America's news team on Monday gushed at the sheer brilliance of Barack Obama's incoming cabinet, including his "team of economic gladiators." Former top Bill Clinton aide-turned journalist George Stephanopoulos rhapsodized: "We have not seen this kind of combination of star power and brain power and political muscle this early in a cabinet in our lifetimes." (What does that say about Stephanopoulos' friends in the Clinton administration?) Co-host Robin Roberts was equally enthusiastic. Speaking with Stephanopoulos, she cooed: "Some would say it's a team of rivals, a la President Lincoln, or is a better comparison a team of geniuses as FDR did?"
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the segment on the Wednesday, December 17 World News on ABC:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, yesterday, Charlie, the President-elect talked about the blend in the cabinet. It’s all but done now, you see, it had a nod to both governing and politics. In the White House, the President-elect has core Chicago loyalists -- Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod. Then he builds out to the national security team, which are a group of coalition builders -- Hillary Clinton for Democrats, but also the military with James Jones as the national security advisor and, of course, Secretary Gates at the Pentagon. He has also kept his promise of reaching out beyond Washington for change with younger reformers like Shaun Donovan at HUD, Arne Duncan at Education and Lisa Jackson at the EPA. And he’s managed to get this diversity and competence without engaging in any tokenism.

CHARLES GIBSON: Yeah, but there’s still some grumbling, isn’t there, from various political groups about what he’s doing?

STEPHANOPOULOS: There is. Some liberals are upset, saying that they’re not well-represented in the cabinet. Also, some women’s groups are saying that he is not doing as well with women as Bill Clinton did, only as well as George W. Bush did, so he’s got to address that. But he has picked people in the cabinet with an eye towards fast-growing voter groups -- Hispanics -- both Governor Bill Richardson for Commerce, Senator Salazar at Interior, fastest rising voter group in the country. Asians, with Dr. Stephen Chu at Energy, General Eric Shinseki at Veterans Affairs, they’re another fast-growing voter group. And, Charlie, for Democrats, the Southwest has been a real prime target area, and look what the President-elect has done. He’s picked Governor Napolitano of Arizona, Governor Richardson of New Mexico, Senator Salazar of Colorado, trying to lock in gains in those three key states.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center