Romney: No Muslims in My Cabinet
When it comes to the demographic make-up of his future cabinet, Republican White House hopeful and legendary flip-flopper Mitt Romney proved he can completely reverse his position in the span of just a single day. Appearing on CNN's Situation Room Monday, Romney told Wolf Blitzer he rejected the use of quotas in appointing cabinet members. But according to the Christian Science Monitor today, Mitt does indeed have a quota for the number of American Muslims in a future Romney cabinet. That number, as it turns out, is zero.
Speaking with CNN's Blitzer, Romney was quick to reject the criticism lobbed by African-American conservative commenter and former Congressman J.C. Watts that the Romney campaign (like that of Rudy Giuliani) had no black staffers. The composition of the Romney campaign, like a Romney presidential cabinet, Mitt claimed, would be based purely on merit:
BLITZER: The charge -- the charge is that you have no diversity in your inner circle, no African-Americans who are really involved in your decision-making process.
ROMNEY: Well, I do have inner-circle members of my team that are African-American and also Hispanic-American and people of various backgrounds. So, he just happens to be ill-informed.
But I also think that suggesting that we have to fill spots based on checking off boxes of various ethnic groups is really a very inappropriate way to think about how we staff positions.
I'm very pleased that, among my Cabinet members, for instance, I had several African-American individuals. I had people of different backgrounds. But I don't go in every circumstance I'm in and say, OK, how many African-Americans, how many Hispanic-Americans, how many Asian-Americans, and fill boxes that way.
I fill responsibilities based upon people's merit and their skill. And, sometimes, it includes many ethnic minorities. And, other times, it includes different minorities.
Which is not what Romney told Mansoor Ijaz. On the Christian Science Monitor web site this same Monday (as noted by Kevin Drum), the former Massachusetts painted a picture of a Romney cabinet where Muslims need not apply:
I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that "jihadism" is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, "...based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration."
Forget for the moment that the size of the Muslim population in the United States (estimated at 5 to 7 million) now rivals that of Jews - and Mormons. Ignore, too, the Constitution's ban on religious tests. Romney's problem is not one of mathematics, but of pandering to the conservative GOP primary base. Through his repeated statements conflating all Muslims worldwide and his shockingly misguided ad "Jihad," Romney has made it clear he intends to win the hearts and minds of right-wing Republican voters by losing the hearts and minds of Muslims in the United States - and around the world.
Alarmingly and erroneously equating Sunni and Shiite, the guilty and the innocent, Romney in May claimed he has more than Osama Bin Laden in his crosshairs:
"But I don't want to buy into the Democratic pitch, that this is all about one person, Osama bin Laden. Because after we get him, there's going to be another and another. This is about Shia and Sunni. This is about Hezbollah and Hamas and al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the worldwide jihadist effort to try and cause the collapse of all moderate Islamic governments and replace them with a caliphate."
Throughout his presidential campaign, Mitt Romney has trumpeted his business experience as an asset his opponents lack. But America's would-be Second MBA President apparently never showed up for diversity training. In Mitt Romney's new Jim Crow cabinet, Muslim Americans apparently will have no place.
UPDATE 1: Romney spokesman Kevin Madden issued a statement confirming both Mitt's jihad against jihadism and his comfort level with discriminating against Muslim Americans when it comes to future cabinet positions:
"At this point, we're not focused on what Gov. Romney's Cabinet might look like. But the governor does not believe that in order to effectively fight radical jihad you need to have Muslims serving in the Cabinet."
UPDATE 2: Mitt Romney is now claiming that Mansoor Ijaz misquoted him. Given the distance from "based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified," it would seem Romney still has some explaining to do:
"No, that's not what I said. His question was, Did I need to have a Muslim in my Cabinet in order to confront radical jihad, or would it be important to have a Muslim in my Cabinet?' And I said no, I don't think you need a Muslim in the Cabinet to take on radical jihad any more than we needed a Japanese American to understand the threat that was coming from Japan or something of that nature."
UPDATE 3: Over at the Huffington Post, Mansoor Ijaz responds and calls Mitt Romney a liar:
"This guy is lying now to the American people," said Ijaz. "He probably never imagined someone would come out and write a piece the way I did. And I think he made a serious mistake in judgment in trying to disown what he said."