Magazine article Insight on the News

Quotas Fine for Clinton's Staff, but Not for All of America

Magazine article Insight on the News

Quotas Fine for Clinton's Staff, but Not for All of America

Article excerpt

President Clinton kvetched the other day that he has been "roundly attacked on the extreme right," which is "trying to make me look like some kind of radical left-winger because I have this crazy notion that I ought to have an administration that would have some diversity."

The diversity president is confused.

The right has been, for the most part, licking its chops as it observes Clinton's personnel travails. The notable attacks have come from the president's own miffed supporters.

It was the New Republic -- a Clinton-Gore fanzine -- that several months ago noted caustically the high percentage of lawyers and insiders in the supposedly "diverse" administration. It was syndicated columnist Ben Wattenberg, once touted as a potential Clinton appointee, who recently called Clinton "President Quota" and complained that "many deserving white males have been kept out of government. Loyal Democrats, they march silently to oblivion."

Aggrieved Democrats may have good reason to bemoan the farcical search for appointees who satisfy the diversity president's EGG criteria--differing ethnicity, gender and geography. Besides sowing dissent in the ranks of Clinton supporters, the policy seems to have spawned a pungently cynical insiders' slang. And cynicism loses elections in America. Wattenberg lists "OGs" (openly gay), "skirts" (self-explanatory) and "twofers" (black women and others who satisfy two of the EGG criteria) as the nicknames for the privileged categories of job seekers. I predict some junior Clintonite, now toiling anonymously in the Old Executive Office Building, will write a brutally satirical book on the subject before the decade is out.

By the same token, there is little in this process for the right, extreme or otherwise, to complain about -- yet. Far from looking like a radical left-winger, Clinton now looks like a foolish politician with EGG on his face. He can't figure out how to appease all his constituencies simultaneously. From the right's perspective, Clinton's "diversity" obsession should simply make for a target-rich environment come 1996.

The fear on the right -- and among all Americans who believe in equal opportunity and meritocracy --is that Clinton will decide to EGG the country and introduce his race-and gender-obsessed spoils system into every small corner of society. Of course there is nothing wrong with a Clinton administration that "looks like America." But an America that looks like the Clinton administration is a different story.

Diversity is now the worst sort of buzzword -- a feel-good term with too many different meanings. …

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