Diversity a la Bill Clinton

January 28, 1994

Candidate Bill Clinton promised a government as diverse as America. Has he kept that campaign promise? More fully than even he could have predicted.

For example, the cabinet, which is a president's most visible group of nominees, is composed of six non-Hispanic white males, two Hispanic males, three black males, a black female and two white females.

That's not bad, and below this very top level, presidential appointees in the executive branch are even more diverse. Here is what a study by Martha Farnsworth Riche of the Population Reference Bureau (a sort of private Census Bureau) found:

In a nation that is 75 percent non-Hispanic white, the Clinton appointees are 76 percent non-Hispanic white. The nation is 12 percent African-American, the Clintonites, 12 percent. The nation is 9.5 percent Hispanic, the Clintonites, 6 percent. The nation is 3 percent Asian-American, Clintonites, 3 percent. Native Americans, 0.6 and 0.6. Men are slightly less than 50 percent in the nation, 54 percent in the Clinton administration. Women slightly more than 50 percent and 46 percent.

No administration has ever produced such diversity. Furthermore, as Ms. Riche puts it, "This degree of diversity is remarkable , especially since the demographics of the pool of eligible people -- estimated even by minimal standards of age and educational level -- is considerably less diverse than the general population."

She counted in the pool people from age 30-64, with a college education and actively in the work force. By that yardstick, women, blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans are all over-represented, percentage-wise, in the upper tiers of the Clinton administration.

This same concern about bringing in more people of the sorts less fairly represented in previous administrations is also seen in the Clinton judges. According to the Alliance for Justice, federal judicial appointments in 1993 demonstrated "unparalleled diversity." Its survey showed that of President Clinton's 48 judicial nominees to date, 18 are women, 11 are African-Americans and three are Hispanics.

Perhaps what is most striking about the Clinton appointees is not their appearance but their records: nearly half have experience in Legal Aid and public defenders offices or served on their boards or regularly accepted pro bono assignments from them.

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