In reporting on Larry Summers’s pending exit from the White House, Politico writes: “President Barack Obama’s team already knows the ideal candidate to replace him on the National Economic Council – a woman CEO.” The story goes on to note that there isn’t a “litmus test” and assures us the White House will hire the “most qualified person,” but also notes that the administration is “acutely aware that all of the administration’s big four economic leadership positions – NEC chief, director of the Office of Management and Budget, Treasury secretary and head of the Council of Economic Advisers – are currently filled by white males with virtually no experience running a major business enterprise.”
It’s a fair concern that the president’s economic team lacks private-sector experience, although as Felix Salmon of Reuters has pointed out, “of all the positions on the White House economic team, one would expect the NEC director to actually be an economist.” But that aside, a business executive might be able to provide the president with much-needed insight into how productive jobs actually are produced and explain why uncertainty about health-care mandates and tax laws discourage business expansion.
But why specifically a woman? This is no time for a token appointment. Certainly, plenty of highly qualified women CEOs exist. But this affirmative-action sentiment just undermines any female candidate’s credibility. And why eliminate 50 percent of the potential candidates before the search even begins?
It’s also more evidence, as if any were needed, that the White House doesn’t get the mood in America today. Women (at least those other than hard-core feminists who were already firmly in the Democratic camp) won’t be impressed that the White House has gender balance as the top priority for its economic team. Women, like men, want the Obama administration to pursue policies to encourage economic growth. They don’t care about the gender, color, or religious affiliation of its advisers.
A recent poll by the Independent Women’s Voice found that two-thirds of political independents believe the political process recently has gotten worse, and just 5 percent think it has improved. News that the politically correct optics of the economic team are more important than getting the best people confirms this White House just doesn’t get it.