Disgraced Rep. Charles B. Rangel had no qualms about ripping into President Obama Thursday for the commander in chief’s dwindling Cabinet diversity.
“It’s embarrassing as hell,” Mr. Rangel, a New York Democrat, said on MSNBC’s “Jansing & Co.”
Mr. Rangel was on the offensive for the first time since Mr. Obama nudged the House Ways and Means Committee chairman to retire amid a probe that resulted in a December 2010 House censure on a slew of ethics charges — including failing to pay income on a Caribbean rental property and fundraising shenanigans.
“He’s somebody who’s at the end of his career. Eighty years old. I’m sure that — what he wants is to be able to end his career with dignity. And my hope is that it happens,” Mr. Obama said as Mr. Rangel’s scandal unfolded.
Instead, the 82-year-old Mr. Rangel sought — and won — re-election.
On Thursday, Mr. Rangel criticized Mr. Obama’s second-term Cabinet picks. The first four appointments have been white men: Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Sen. Chuck Hagel to serve as defense secretary; counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to head the CIA; and White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew to take over as Treasury secretary.
With the surprise departure Wednesday of Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, some liberals are reminding Mr. Obama that he hammered Republican Mitt Romney during the presidential campaign for saying he once consulted “binders of women” to find qualified female aides.
“We’ve been through this with Mitt Romney,” Mr. Rangel said. Mr. Obama “has had four years to work the bench, to know the second team, so that in the second term these people should be just as experienced as any other American. You have to [appoint women and minorities] because it’s the right thing to do as a symbol of what America stands for — and that’s whether you’re Republican or Democrat.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president’s record on diversity “speaks for itself,” and he pointed to Mr. Obama’s appointment of two female Supreme Court justices, among other nominations and hirings.