Is It True that President Bush Hasn't Hired Any Jews in His Cabinet?

History Q & A

Ms. Young is an intern at HNN.

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An unsigned mass email criticizing George W. Bush alleges that unlike other recent presidents he has not appointed any Jews to his cabinet. Various blogs and media outlets have picked up the story and have further disseminated this allegation in accordance with their predispositions, thereby allowing the email to gain a wide audience.

The email, which features the Jewish record of appointments by 21 presidents, asks its readers to “consider the last two officeholders”:

BILL CLINTON appointed more Jews to his cabinet than all of the previous presidents put together.
GEORGE W. BUSH is the first President since Herbert Hoover who has no Jews in his cabinet at all.

The email is inaccurate. President Bush has named Jews to his cabinet. The email’s claim that there are no Jews in the United States cabinet ignores two important figures. The cabinet consists of 15 heads of federal executive departments. Two of these heads, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Energy Secretary Samuel Wright Bodman, are of Jewish descent.

It is true that President Bush did not appoint any Jews to his cabinet when he became president. Chertoff and Bodman received appointments later. Some critics of the administration, like journalist Sidney Zion, criticized Bush in 2001 for failing to initially appoint Jews to his cabinet:

There’ll be no Yiddish spoken in the Bush Cabinet — unless Colin Powell starts talking to himself. Dubya spells diversity with his picks. Three Blacks, a Cuban émigré and most recently, an Asian American Democrat and an Arab American Republican named Abraham.

But no Jews. And no questions from the allegedly Jewish-dominated media, no word from the Jews in Congress and no comment from the Jewish lobby.

Is this the silence of the lambs, or are American Jews so secure as to not give a damn about a Jew-free Cabinet?

Furthermore, Bush has appointed several Jews in high ranking positions who, even if they are not cabinet members, have a say in policy in every administration:

  • Lewis “Scooter” Libby - former Chief of Staff to Vice President Cheney
  • Paul Wolfowitz - former Deputy Secretary of Defense
  • Douglas Jay Feith - Former Under Secretary for Policy, Department of Defense
  • Dov S. Zakheim - Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), Pentagon
  • Ari Fleischer - President Bush's former press secretary.
  • Kenneth Adelman - member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board
  • Robert Satloff - U.S. National Security Council Advisor
  • Elliott Abrams – Deputy National Security Council Advisor
  • Marc Grossman - Under Secretary for Political Affairs
  • Joshua Bolton - Director of Office of Management and Budget

In addtion, as the Jewish Post pointed out, the email selectively omitted three of the five most recent Republican Presidents: Nixon (president during the Yom Kippur War, whose secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, was the highest-ranking Jew in the history of the US government), Ford and Reagan.

Matthew Berger’s article, "No Jews appointed to Bush's Cabinet? So what?" for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency states that there should be more concern with a cabinet member’s policy positions than with their “religious affiliation.” Another article of the same title by the Deputy National Security Council Advisor, Elliott Abrams, for Beliefnet.com, noted that the percentage of Jews in the United States perhaps signifies why there are so few in the cabinet. “Jews are only 2%, maybe 3, of the population,” he writes. “If by that standard, Jews deserve a Cabinet seat, so do Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus, I guess.”

According to Boycott Watch, an independent consumer advocacy organization that monitors boycott calls, the email appears to be well-researched--even though it isn't in fact--but concludes that it lacks credibility because it is unsigned. The group suggests the email may have been generated by a political organization to discredit the Bush administration.

What is most unusual about the email is that it attacks the Bush administration for allegedly excluding Jews. The more common criticism featured on the Internet has been that the Bush administration is dominated by Jews--or at least that it's foreign policy is directed by Jewish neo-cons, which plays on the typical anti-Semitic slander that Jews secretly rule the world. (See Jonathan Dresner, here, here , and here .)















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More Comments:

Justin Chen - 8/8/2007

uh oh, looks like dubya hates both blacks and jews. A+, excellent piece; will read again..! mass e-mails are the new political propaganda... did you also know it's physically impossible to lick your elbows?

Peter Kovachev - 11/14/2005

Mr. Thomas has his own pet reasons to fly off the handle over an unsigned letter on the internet which claims to bring up an issue no actual Jewish source appears to have complained about.

What an excellent opportunity for Mr. Thomas to gun for a representational numerus clausus...maybe he'll have a chance now in whatever his endevours may be. In any case, given the excuse to vent his spleen against you-know-whom again, I wouldn't be surprised if Mr, Thomas came up with that chain mail himself.

David I Lieberman - 11/12/2005

Hmm. Insofar as it is unsigned, and insofar as the passions it awakens seem to be most intense among those disposed to believe Jews "are cultivating a well-justifed and well-deserved resentment," perhaps it does not strain the imagination much to consider the possibility that this "email" was designed to have precisely the effect Frederick Thomas places on display here.

"Protocols of the Elders of Zion," anyone? Racism is racism, indeed.

Frederick Thomas - 11/8/2005

The unsigned "letter" referenced above is utterly unethical, and should be slammed harder than the author does here. Racism is racism, and this is chauvinistic Jewish racism at its reeking steaming worst.

The letter implies that Jews, who are about 3% of the population, deserve to be vastly over-represented in all positions of public power.

Presidents who have 15% of their cabinet positions Jewish, such as Bush, are harshly castigated with an implied anti-semitic smear, when they have five times the percentage implied by the population.

Presidents such as Clinton who had a percentage several times higher, which is clearly outrageous to other ethnic groups who had little or none, are held up as exemplars.

And those who wish to rebut the racist cabal, such as the author here, are willing to concede that Jews should be overly represented, just not so much overrepresented.

There seems to be no limit to the racist demands of the people behind the letter. I would suggest that they are cultivating a well-justified and well-deserved resentment which will rebound against them and against those of their ethnicity whom they wish to promote.