Picture it: a Republican National Convention with racial minorities parading on stage, a cabinet full of women and racial minorities, and sexy Latino star Ricky Martin singing at President George W. Bushs opening inauguration ceremonies. All of that is either an honest demonstration of commitment to diversity or a contrived set of circumstances intended to deceive the gullible and lazy. Taking a closer look at Bushs diverse cabinet, the latter seems more likely.
Our new president has managed to pull off a carnival slight of hand show aptly titled Dubyas Magical Myth of Minority Love. But if you look behind the curtain of his cabinet, you can see the wizard at work.
With black appointments like Colin Powell for secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice for national security adviser, and Rod Paige for secretary of education, one might characterize Bush Jr. as a friend to the races. So friendly that he opposes affirmative action and hate crimes legislation, when racial motivations make up the largest portion of hate crimes. Plus, Bush appointed John Ashcroft as attorney general, a vocal opponent of affirmative action, civil rights legislation, and even school desegregation.
Ashcroft supported xenophobic legislation that would prevent all legal immigrants from receiving any federal benefits. The secretary of the interior appointee, Gale Norton, opposes affirmative action and minority scholarships. Norton also has expressed regret over the defeat of the Confederacy in the Civil War as an example of the loss of states rights. She referred to slavery as bad facts in an overall states rights issue.
It gets better. Bush appointed Linda Chavez as secretary of labor to serve as a strong Latina voice in the cabinet. Oh, but wait, that strong Latina voice had apparently been exploiting an illegal Guatemalan immigrant for domestic work. So, she had to drop out. Dont worry though, because to the everlasting relief of racial minorities everywhere, Bush appointed anti-affirmative action AsianPacific American Elaine Chao. To top it off, Bush wants to remove all remnants of self-sovereignty from Native American reservations.
As for the female component, Bush appointed Karen Hughes as White House counselor, Ann Veneman as secretary of agriculture, and Christie Todd Whitman to head the Environmental Protection Agency, besides the women mentioned above. Clearly, Bush has the best interests of women at heart. Just as he did when he opposed the Equal Rights Amendment. Hold on, that doesnt make sense. Neither does it make sense that he is anti-choice and chose Richard Cheney as his running mate, a guy who voted against abortion even in cases of rape, incest and a danger to a womans health. Moreover, Bush appointed anti-choice Tommy Thompson as Secretary of Health and Human Services and Ashcroft, who is also rabidly anti-choice and opposed the Equal Rights Amendment too.
Then, of course, there are the groups that did not even deserve a modicum of deception. The millions of bisexuals, lesbians, and gays in the United States probably will not benefit from the afterglow of a Bush presidency either. In the second presidential debate, Bush characterized himself as a tolerant guy, regarding lesbians and gays and subsequently denounced same-sex marriage. Bush did appoint Powell though. Hes black, so he would hate discrimination, right? Except for that one little time when he threatened to resign from the Joint Chiefs of Staff if Clinton abolished the ban on lesbians and gays in the military.
Additionally, Norton compassionately championed a ballot measure in Colorado that would have banned all gay rights there. Further, Thompson has opposed fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Returning to Ashcroft, he stated that lesbian and gay sexual orientation is abnormal and should be viewed as such and that it is a condition from which relief should be sought. Personally, I am so thankful that, as a gay citizen, I will be tolerated like this. I just feel really mad that I didnt get a sellout of my own in the Cabinet.
Secretary of the Interior appointee Norton does have one thing going for her. She is really inclusive. She spoke of the Americans with Disabilities Act by bemoaning the forced addition of a wheelchair ramp to the Colorado state building, calling it an ugly addition. Oh, thats bigoted too.
Religious minorities might not be encouraged by Bushs support of tuition vouchers for religious schools that can discriminate any way they please. Ashcroft supports vouchers too, along with school prayer and public funding for charities run by religious organizations. Commenting on vouchers in a U.S. News and World Report interview, Bush said, There has to be a moment where somebodys held accountable, and there has to be a consequence, and I think a very powerful consequence, to the extent that the federal government spends money, that money follows a child.
Thankfully, minorities do not fall for Dubyas Magical Myth of Minority Love en masse. Exit polls found that more than 70 percent of voting gays did not vote for Bush. Nationwide he only got 9 percent of the black vote. In a Newsweek poll only 43 percent of women thought that Bush cares about people like you.
I guess it sort of seems like Bush might only be interested in consolidating the money, power, and privilege of the country in the hands of wealthy, white, heterosexual, male Protestants.
I really hope Bush got that adorable Latin Ricky Martin to do an encore.
Brian Emerson Jones, a State News columnist, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.