President Obama brought his top Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency chiefs together Monday with their potential replacements, and some critics noticed one thing that stood out: Each of them was a white man.
Obama, who made women’s issues a core of his reelection bid, has nominated men to serve in three of his most prominent national security positions, including secretary of state, where Sen. John F. Kerry (D) was named last month to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton. The president on Monday announced former senator Chuck Hagel for the defense job and counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan to head the CIA.
The moves have disappointed some supporters who said they fear, with Clinton’s departure, a paucity of females among Obama’s top advisers, particularly in the traditionally male-dominated field of defense and security.
Thomas Donilon, the president’s national security adviser, was in the audience, as outgoing Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and acting CIA director Michael J. Morrell joined their possible successors and the president.
The pattern is particularly striking for a president who was elected with majority support from women and racial minorities and focused heavily during his reelection campaign on women’s health concerns and equal pay in the workplace. Obama won 55 percent of the female vote to Republican rival Mitt Romney’s 44 percent.