Forget all the caterwauling about women (a bit of which, admittedly, came from me). The impending departures of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar leave President Obama's Cabinet with zero Hispanics, setting off nervous tremors among Latinos and underscoring the inch-deep Democratic bench in that demographic.
Even before the latest developments, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, a coalition of 30 large groups, was concerned about lack of Latino representation in the administration and told Obama so in a letter last November. The coalition sent the president another letter Wednesday, complete with 19 names for him to consider for his second-term Cabinet.
"After Secretaries Solis and Salazar announced that they will be stepping down as the heads of their respective departments, our apprehension is amplified," NHLA Chairman Hector Sanchez said in the follow-up. With a historic policy debate on immigration approaching, he wrote, "your Cabinet can ill-afford to not have the unique perspective and voice of high level Latino members. At this critical time our voices need to be amplified, not diminished."
Obama named Sonia Sotomayor as the first Latina justice to the Supreme Court, and his domestic policy director is Cecilia Munoz. But that doesn't cut much ice at this point with NHLA, which is suddenly much further away from its goal of seeing at least three Hispanic Cabinet members.