About four years ago, I wrote a column praising President Bush for appointing Latinos to the Cabinet as he began his second term. The most obvious example was Bush’s decision to nominate Alberto Gonzales as attorney general, which many liberals would insist was a big mistake.
I disagree. But that’s an argument for another time.
This much can’t be argued: Gonzales represented a major breakthrough. You see, all Cabinet posts are not created equal and, before Bush broke the barrier, no Latino had ever been nominated for one of the top four jobs — defense, state, treasury, or attorney general.
A whole succession of presidents — including Democrats such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton — who had munched nachos and posed with mariachis on the campaign trail, and enjoyed substantial support from Latinos, had somehow missed the opportunity to seat a Latino at the grown-ups’ table. Imagine that.
In that column, I also mentioned Bush’s decision to nominate Cuban-born Carlos Gutierrez to be commerce secretary. I had a line that read something like: “Commerce secretary isn’t chopped liver.”
A liberal reader who was obviously intent on denying Bush credit for anything positive wrote back, “Sorry, but commerce secretary is chopped liver.”
I stand corrected.
By Ruben Navarrette Jr.
The San Diego Union-Tribune
New Mexico’s Governor Bill Richardson arrives to the University of the Americas in Cholula, Mexico, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008. Richardson, who grew up in Mexico, visited Mexico one day after he was chosen as the next commerce secretary by President-elect Barack Obama, amid concerns in Mexico about whether Obama will try to renegotiate parts of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).(AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)