by Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY
Has President Obama been good for women?
When it comes to appointing women to high-level executive branch posts, the Obama administration has named no more women to high-level executive branch posts than the Clinton administration did almost two decades ago, according to a New York Times analysis.
The ongoing debate on Obama's track record on women comes as the president faces pressure from some on the political left to pick Janet Yellen to replace Ben Bernake as head of the Federal Reserve when his terms expires in January. Yellen, if picked, would become the first woman to hold the post.
His four most prominent nominees he announced for second term cabinet positions are all men. He tapped John Kerry to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chuck Hagel to replace Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to head the CIA, and his former White House chief of staff Jack Lew to replace Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Grumbling about the lack of women among his picks for arguably the most important jobs in his administration is not new.
Earlier this year, the liberal National Organization of Women [NOW] called on members to write the president and urge him to appoint more women to top posts.
For his part, Obama has fiercely defended the diversity of his administration. He's noted that some of the most important officials in shaping foreign and domestic policy during his first term were women--including his secretary of state, homeland security secretary and his top health care adviser. He also appointed two female justices to the Supreme Court.
It's worth noting that United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice had the inside track to replace Clinton and State, but withdrew her name from consideration after facing stiff opposition from some Senate Republicans because of inaccurate comments she made about the attack the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. facility in Libya.
In June, Obama elevated Rice to become the director of his National Security Council, and he replaced her at the U.N. with his longtime foreign policy adviser Samantha Power.
But the raw numbers show that Obama is slightly behind where Clinton was at the same moment in his presidency nearly two decades ago.
Women hold about 35% of cabinet-level posts, compared with 41% Clinton and 24 percent for Mr. Bush at similar points in their presidencies, according to the Times.