A non-Jewish Cabinet, a pretty Jewish White House


Barack Obama finished naming his Cabinet last week, and as Matthew Yglesias points out here, it doesn’t have any Jewish members.

Now, technically, Obama designated five additional positions as Cabinet-level appointees, and that list does include Peter Orszag, who is Jewish, as director of the Office of Management and Budget. But in the traditional Cabinet departments, Obama’s Cabinet shares a similarity with George W. Bush’s first Cabinet in 2001 — its lack of MOTs. (Bush, of course, has since appointed Michael Chertoff at Homeland Security and Michael Mukasey at the Justice Department.)

Apparently, the place for Jewish appointments by an incoming president is on the White House staff. In 2001, Bush tapped Josh Bolten as deputy chief of staff (who has since become chief of staff), Jay Lefkowitz as head of his Domestic Policy Council and Ari Fleischer as press secretary.

Obama’s Jewish White House advisers will be even closer to the president — Rahm Emanuel is chief of staff, David Axelrod will be a senior adviser to the president and Larry Summers was selected as head of Obama’s National Ecomonic Council, to name three. And Ron Klain will be Joe Biden’s chief of staff.

(And if we go back to Clinton’s first Cabinet, the only Jewish member was Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.)

What does all this mean, other than making me feel a little bit like Fred Malek must have felt during the Nixon administration? Unfortunately, I haven’t figured that out–but it’s Dec. 24 and not much else is going on, so I figured it was worth throwing it out there. 

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