Does President Obama have a problem with women?
On the level of appearances, he certainly does. Which is why at his Monday news conference, he found himself responding to criticisms about the lack of diversity in his picks so far for his second-term Cabinet State, Treasury, Defense and CIA who have all been white men.
Those picks have only contributed to a long-standing perception that Obama is, at the very least, somewhat tone-deaf when it comes to the role of women in his administration. And in politics, perception is often reality.
The president, of course, disagrees with this perception. As far as he is concerned, he's done pretty well on the women issue. Referring to Hillary Clinton, his departing secretary of state, and other women who've held key first-term posts, he said:
"So if you think about my first four years, the person who probably had the most influence on my foreign policy was a woman. The people who were in charge of moving forward my most important domestic initiative, health care, were women.
"The person in charge of our homeland security was a woman. My two appointments to the Supreme Court were women. And 50 percent of my White House staff were women. So I think people should expect that that record will be built upon during the next four years.
"Now, what, I've made four appointments so far? And one woman, admittedly a high-profile one, is leaving the has already left the administration, and I have made a replacement.
"But I would just suggest that everybody kind of wait until they've seen all my appointments, who's in the White House staff and who's in my Cabinet, before they rush to judgment."
As the president should know by now, rushing to judgment is a long Washington pastime. Just ask Shirley Sherrod, another woman who once worked in his administration. So the president's admonition isn't likely to slow that train down one bit.
It wouldn't be surprising if the president found the criticism about diversity in his administration that has shown up in the news media particularly galling. After all, he is the president who signed into law the