Liberal Columnist Says Obama 'Needs Some Binders of Women'

By Susan Jones | January 10, 2013 | 9:35 AM EST

President Obama has nominated former Republican senator Chuck Hagel, left, as defense secretary, and counterterrorism expert John Brennan as head of the CIA. (AP Photo)

( - Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus calls it a "shame" that President Obama's Cabinet picks -- so far -- are all "white guys." 

It's not an "outrage" -- just a "shame" that Obama's second-term cabinet has a white, male "retro look," she wrote in Thursday's column, entitled, "Obama needs some binders of women."

"Imagine the tableau of Obama flanked by secretary of state nominee Susan Rice and defense secretary nominee Michèle Flournoy. That would have been the ultimate you’ve-come-a-long-way moment," Marcus wrote.

"State, Defense and Treasury, along with Justice, are the Big Boy jobs. It matters if some of those boys are girls. It sends a disturbing signal when they’re not."

(None of those jobs is expected to go to a woman in Obama's second term. Only Eric Holder at Justice is a minority.)

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was derided by many Democrats for his "binders full of women" comment during the second presidential debate. Responding to a question about pay equity for women, Romney talked about putting together his gubernatorial cabinet in Massachusetts:

"[A]ll the applicants seemed to be men," Romney said on Oct. 16, 2012. "And I went to my staff, and I said, how come all the people for these jobs are all men? They said, well, these are the people that have the qualifications. And I said, well, gosh, can't we — can't we find some — some women that are also qualified?

And so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks?’ And I brought us whole binders full of women.

“I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my cabinet and my senior staff that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America."

Two of President Obama's female Cabinet members, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis -- have announced they are leaving. So far, only three current Cabinet members are confirmed as staying, according to the AP: Holder at Justice, Kathleen Sebelius at Health and Human Services, and Eric Shinseki at the Veterans Administration.

Obama so far has nominated three white men for key administration jobs: Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary, John Kerry for Secretary of State, and John Brennan for CIA Director. He's expected to name another white guy -- Jack Lew -- to the Treasury Secretary post.