National Organization for Women: ‘President Obama, where are the Women?’

Caroline May | Reporter

The nation’s leading liberal women’s group, the National Organization for Women, is demanding to know why President Barack Obama has failed to make more high-profile appointments of women to his administration.

“President Obama has made a number of high-profile appointments recently — four at last count — and they are all white men,” NOW said in a blast email to supporters Thursday evening, with the subject line, “President Obama, Where are the Women?”

The organization noted that while groups like NOW hoped United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice would succeed Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, she too was “was pushed aside and replaced with a white male nominee” when the “right wing unjustly smeared” her. (RELATED VIDEO: Joe Scarborough slams Mika Brzezinski for defending president’s all-male Cabinet picks)

NOW is encouraging its members to sign a petition urging the president to appoint more women to his Cabinet — especially women of color. The group suggested, for example, that a woman helm the Federal Communications Commission for the first time in the agency’s history.

“I am concerned that the current trend in your Cabinet appointments has excluded women and people of color. Women, especially women of color, are being disproportionately affected by current debates over the federal budget, education policy and access to health care, and their perspective needs to be represented among your top advisers,” NOW’s petition reads. “There is no doubt that qualified women exist for each and every position you will be called to fill, so there is no excuse to consign the vast majority of decision-making power and authority to men.”

The Obama administration has come under fire in recent days for the lack of diversity in his Cabinet, and particularly for the dearth of women in his inner circle. On MSNBC on Thursday, New York Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel called the criticisms “embarrassing as hell.”

“We’ve been through all of this with [2012 GOP presidential nominee] Mitt Romney. And we were very hard with Mitt Romney with the women binder and a variety of things,” POLITICO reported Rangel said. “And I kind of think there’s no excuse with the second term.”

At a Tuesday press conference, White House spokesman Jay Carney reiterated that the president does put a high priority on diversity.

“[Obama] believes that by looking broadly for candidates for offices that he ups the chances that he’ll find the very best person for the job,” Carney said. “And I think that the diversity of his administration — both at the Cabinet level and here at the White House and elsewhere — reflects a process that was designed to allow him to find the very best candidates. And he thinks that diversity enhances the process itself — the policy process — because it sort of increases the likelihood of a broader discussion, potentially.”

Despite Carney’s statement, NOW emphasized it would like to see more women in the administration.

“Women have made great strides in government, but we need a critical mass to really make a difference. Now is not the time to go back,” NOW concluded its email to supporters.

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