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Rep. Blackburn hits Obama for not naming more women to Cabinet

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on Sunday hammered President Obama over a perceived lack of diversity in his new Cabinet picks, questioning his failure to nominate women for any of the top positions recently vacated in his administration.

"I do think people are going to be watching very closely to see if the steps this president takes are going to be the same kind of steps that he took in that first term, and I think there's an accountability there," Blackburn said on CNN's "State of the Union."

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She accused Obama of overlooking the "most qualified person," former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy, by failing to pick her as the first woman to lead the Pentagon. Blackburn said Flournoy had been “the next in the queue” for the top Pentagon post and her selection would have been a “historic choice.” 

Blackburn called Obama’s decision to instead tap former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) "very disappointing."

Obama's last three nominations, Hagel, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) for secretary of State, and White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew for Treasury secretary, are all white men. 

The apparent lack of diversity among Obama's top advisers prompted a story in the New York Times last week questioning the "all-male look" of Obama's inner circle and controversy even within the Democratic party.

"It's embarrassing as hell," Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) said last week of photos showing Obama consulting only white men in the Oval Office. "You have to do these things because it's the right thing to do as a symbol of what America stands for."

But Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), speaking on the same CNN panel, took a "wait and see" position on the issue, expressing his firm belief that "this president believes in diversity."

"If we just wait maybe a week or two, I can almost promise you, we won't even be having this conversation," he said.

His response echoes that of White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who told reporters last week that "it would be useful to wait and make judgments about this issue after the president has made the totality of appointments that he will make in the transition to a second term."

Carney pointed to Obama's appointments of Janet Napolitano as the Secretary of Homeland Security, Susan Rice as United Nations Ambassador, Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services, and two female appointments to the Supreme Court.

The White House also sought to counter the controversy last week by releasing a “photo of the day” which featured Obama consulting with female advisers in the Oval Office. 

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