Obama faces administration diversity criticism

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 07:   Former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) (L) speaks during a personnel announcement in the East Room at the White House, on January 7, 2013 in Washington, DC.U.S. President Barack Obama has nominated Hagel for the next Secretary of Defense and Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan (R) to become the new director of the CIA.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 07: Former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) (L) speaks during a personnel announcement in the East Room at the White House, on January 7, 2013 in Washington, DC.U.S. President Barack Obama has nominated Hagel for the next Secretary of Defense and Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan (R) to become the new director of the CIA. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Obama is facing increased scrutiny over the diversity of his top advisers, as he has recently named three white males to top administration posts and the New York Times highlighted a recent White House meeting on the economy that included the president with 10 men and only one female staffer.

In reshuffling his staff, Obama has tapped John Brennan (CIA director), Chuck Hagel (secretary of defense) and John Kerry (secretary of state) and is expected Thursday to nomination Jacob Lew as treasury secretary. All four are white males. And so far, several of the people departing the cabinet, such as Hilda Solis (Labor) and Lisa Jackson (EPA), are either female or minorities. And many of the top aides on Obama’s White House staff are also white males.

“Mr. Obama’s inner circle will continue to be dominated by men well into his second term,” the Times wrote.

White House aides are critical of this argument. They note that senior adviser Valerie Jarrett is perhaps the closest person to Obama, and that a number of women remain in his cabinet, including UN Ambassador Susan Rice and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Rice and Secretary of Veteran Affairs Eric Shinseki and Attorney General Eric Holder, all of whom are expected to remain for the second term, bring racial diversity.

“Two of the three deputies — deputy chiefs of staff are women,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. “The White House counsel is a woman. A woman runs homeland security for this country, Secretary Napolitano. There are — you know, there’s — the Cabinet secretary in charge of the most important piece of domestic policy legislation in a generation is a woman, Kathleen Sebelius.”

Follow Perry Bacon Jr. on Twitter at @PerryBaconJr.