Despite much talk of inclusiveness and diversity for the George W. Bush cabinet, recent appointments, as well as the likely-appointees list, suggests that the president-elect’s cabinet may include only two women – Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, named yesterday, and EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman, expected to be officially nominated soon.
Yesterday, Bush officially appointed Paul O’Neill as Secretary of the Treasury. O’Neill, chairman of aluminum producer Alcoa, is a trustee of the ultra-conservative American Enterprise Institute, of which Vice President-elect Dick Cheney is vice chairman. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is a think-tank whose ranks include Newt Gingrich and Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve, a book which claims genetic and immutable differences in intelligence between blacks and whites. AEI opposes hate crimes legislation, and has conducted anti-gay research.
Other appointments made yesterday were Donald Evans for Commerce Secretary, Mel Martinez for Housing and Urban Development, and Ann Veneman for Agriculture. Evans, a Texan and close family friend of the Bushes, is president and chair of the board of Tom Brown Inc, an oil company — a cause for concern for environmentalists. Martinez is a chief executive officer of Orange County, Florida, and also described as a Bush family friend. Ann Veneman, a lawyer and former Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, has been characterized as a centrist, but environmental groups and organizations representing small farmers are concerned by her nomination. Two representatives from the United Farm Workers, while not commenting on Veneman in particular, note that “in the past, under Republican administrations _ both state and federal – farm workers were never included in the decision-making process,” and point out that many issues, including pesticide use, federal subsidies, and support for agribusiness versus support for farm workers, will be on the plate this year.
Other possible nominees in the Bush administration include Frank Keating for Attorney General and Tommy Thompson for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Both have extremely anti-choice voting records, and could place substantial barriers to women’s health. Keating, governor of Oklahoma, “proudly declared that he is one of the architects of the pro-life movement,” says Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s head Gloria Feldt. Under Oklahoma’s Department of Health and Human Services, Keating sponsored a new program “to honor marriage and reduce divorce” – a poorly veiled anti-woman and anti-gay program that reads like a Promise Keepers pamphlet. Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson, best known for his welfare-to-work program, stated that abortions should be legal only when pregnancy is a result of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life is endangered and signed legislation restriction access to abortion.
Aside from Whitman, all of the top contenders mentioned in the media for the remaining cabinet positions are men.