Sotomayor Was Only the Beginning: Obama Appoints Historic Numbers of Latinos

LatinoObamaThat Pres. Obama has nominated more Hispanic or Latino appointees than any of his predecessors might indicate more about how well and broadly this group has assimilated in American society than about his commitment to diversity. Not that he’s not committed to diversity, mind you, just that it might be an easy thing to be committed to.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is by far Obama’s most famous Hispanic appointee. In less than a year in office, the president has also tapped at least 48 other Hispanics to positions senior enough to require Senate confirmation. So far, 35 have been approved.

That compares with a total of 30 approved under Bill Clinton and 34 under George W. Bush during their first 20 months in office, according to U.S. Office of Personnel Management data…

The officials cover a wide swath of policy areas and include:

— [Labor Secretary Hilda] Solis, [first female Latina cabinet member], a California native and former congresswoman whose parents hail from Mexico and Nicaragua.

— Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, an Ivy Leauger from New York whose parents fled the Dominican Republic dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo.

— Jose Riojas, assistant secretary for veterans affairs, a retired brigadier general and Mexican-American from Missouri.

George Bush, whose sister-in-law, Columba (wife of Jeb), is Mexican, and whose father, Bush 41, famously referred to his “little brown” grandchildren, was seen as friendlier to Hispanics than any other president.

But in one way, Obama’s picks are the opposite of diverse and reveal something else about the president’s comfort level.

More than half of the appointees hold an Ivy League degree, and more than a quarter, like the president, have a diploma from Harvard, an Associated Press review found.