Rep. Charles Rangel Slams Obama on Diversity

The New York congressman says the president may have a "Harvard problem."

Posted: 01/10/2013 12:43 PM EST
Rep. Charles Rangel

The White House this week has faced criticism this week for being, well, perhaps too white and in danger of becoming a boys club. President Obama's recent picks for top cabinet posts are white men who've been around Washington a long time.

New York Rep. Charles Rangel on Thursday weighed in, calling the lack of women and minorities "embarrassing as hell."

"We’ve been through all of this with [2012 GOP presidential nominee] Mitt Romney. And we were very hard with Mitt Romney with the women binder and a variety of things,” Rangel said on MSNBC's Jansing & Co. “And I kind of think there’s no excuse with the second term.”

In response to some of the criticisms the White House released a photo of a diverse group of top advisers in the Oval Office. Are the claims much ado about nothing?

Currently there are eight women in cabinet-level positions and make up 35 percent of his team, compared to 24 percent of former President George W. Bush, according to statistics cited on MSNBC's Now With Alex Wagner. Women also make up 35 percent of high-level federal appointments, compared to 25 percent under Bush. In addition, Obama's two Supreme Court picks were also women.

At a press briefing earlier this week, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that Obama values diversity.

“He believes that by looking broadly for candidates for offices that [it] ups the chances he’ll find the very best person for the job,” Carney told reporters.

But Rangel said that the president may be suffering from a "Harvard problem," where "people just know each other, trust each other and women and minorities don’t get a chance to rub elbows and their reputations and experience is not known."

The veteran lawmaker believes that four years has been plenty of time for Obama to broaden his inner circle.

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(Photo: Courtesy of MSNBC)

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