CNN’s Inside Politics continues its look at the Kerry campaign’s diversity problems, which I described on the air on the Northern Alliance Radio Network as The Incredible Whiteness of Being. Since Carlos Watson’s original piece appeared on CNN talking about the fact that almost all of his campaign’s decision-making positions have been filled with Caucasians, representatives from traditionally Democratic minority groups have begun to make their displeasure known. Typically, the same people who would scream bloody murder if Bush’s campaign or his cabinet had a similar composition are now busy making excuses for Kerry:
Some black officials and independent analysts expressed concerned about the campaign’s lack of racial diversity. Campaign officials and the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus said the criticism was unfounded.
“I am concerned about diversity, but more importantly I am concerned about the experience in that diversity — senior policy people who know people from one end of the country to the other,” said Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Illinois, a caucus member.
If the Kerry campaign was a corporate boardroom instead of a Democratic presidential campaign, Rep. Jackson’s father would be suing it and demanding not only an explicit plan to fill key roles with people of color but also extorting money to fund his own political organizations. The chair of the Congressional Black Caucus seems similarly disinterested in Kerry’s monochromatic management staff:
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, the black caucus chairman, said he was satisfied with the access minorities had to Kerry, noting that he and fellow Democratic Reps. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina and Harold Ford of Tennessee are among House members asked to play key roles in the campaign.
“I believe the door is open and we are present and accounted for,” he said. “I really believe in my heart that those trying to judge Kerry early in campaign are a bit premature in regards to diversity.”
Not everyone declared themselves satisfied with Kerry’s effort:
Added Ron Walters, who worked on the presidential campaigns of Jesse Jackson Sr. and runs the African-American Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland: “There is a sense that Kerry’s people don’t get it.”
As always, the issue is the double standard that applies between the two political parties. George Bush, who has appointed a cabinet and selected campaign support staff that demonstrates a much larger commitment to real diversity — and who has remained low-key about doing so — gets labeled as a racist on a regular basis, while the Democratic nominee assumes that minorities will vote for him even though he gives them no voice in his inner circle. Two cheers to CNN for sticking with this story, even if they quote only one critical comment, and a fairly mild one at that.