President Barack Obama’s team is looking to hire more African-Americans, a search that has stirred a debate among black Democrats about Obama’s record on diversity and its implications for his reelection.Since I've blogged about this repeatedly in the past, you can probably guess where I fall on this topic, but I'm going to reserve further comment for now. There's much more to this very lengthy story over at Politico, so you might wanna read at all before weighing in below.
Stefanie Brown, director of the campaign’s African American Vote program, wrote in an “urgent” March 21 email to contacts in the black community that “The Obama for America campaign is in the process of really staffing up in states around the country, and I need your help to find qualified, African American candidates for some of these positions.” The email, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, notes that “this is a fast moving process and your (quick) support is greatly appreciated.”
The diversity push — and specifically the effort to hire African-Americans — isn’t just on the campaign side: In Washington, four officials from the White House personnel office and lobbying shop met Monday with chiefs of staff for members of the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss building a better pipeline for black staffers to move from the Capitol to the White House. An administration official emphasized that the White House reached out to the CBC, not the other way around, and said the meeting was coincidental to the campaign’s efforts.
The race to stock up on black talent is a welcome development among Washington’s African-American power elite — and one that critics say is three years late in coming. The cynical take, offered up by black Democratic sources outside Obama’s camp: The president and his aides have focused their attention on hiring more African-Americans because they are worried about black turnout on Election Day.
t’s not that anyone expects black voters to suddenly rush to Mitt Romney — they won’t — but African-American turnout could be pivotal in several swing states Obama won in 2008 that show signs of being more competitive in 2010 because of shifts among white independents. Florida, North Carolina and Virginia rank in the top 10 states in total African-American population; and Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan are in the top 15.
Exit polls show that roughly 1 million African Americans voted in the presidential election in North Carolina in 2008. Obama’s margin of victory: 14,000 votes.
The White House rejects the idea that opportunities have been scarce for African-Americans inside the White House during the first three-plus years of the administration. After all, the president, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, Attorney General Eric Holder, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and legislative affairs chief Rob Nabors are all black. There are at least two minorities in the upper echelon of the campaign: political director Katherine Archuleta and Michael Blake, who is deputy director of Operation Vote, the campaign’s effort to target demographic groups to expand the electorate. And Patrick Gaspard, the executive director at the Democratic National Committee, is black.
Question: Is #TeamObama too lily white and Ivy League, or does diversity really not matter at this level of government?