Talk about "can't win for trying." All of a sudden, it's not enough to have a racially diverse presidential Cabinet.
President-elect George W. Bush, if he believed he'd be the darling of the Rainbow Coalition for his inclusive Cabinet picks, must be surprised at the nasty drubbing he's taking from Democrats. So much for the honeymoon.
Bush left no room for his enemies to hit him on diversity. He named the most ethnically diverse Cabinet in history: three African-Americans, three Hispanics, one Cuban-American, one Asian-American and five women.
But Democrats just change the rules. It isn't enough to include minorities and women, nor to include seasoned leaders from diverse backgrounds, many who passed muster in past confirmation hearings.
No, what bugs Democrat partisans is that conservatives will run things in Washington. It's not really diversity that concerns them. If the appointees don't think like partisan Democrats, then their ethnicity shouldn't count, according to their thinking.
Bush's designee for Health and Human Services is pro-life, welfare reform champion Tommy Thompson, who seeks devolution of federal authority back to the states. His pick for the Environmental Protection Agency is the unapologetically pro-business Christine Todd Whitman.
The Interior Department will be headed by Coloradan Gale Norton, who favors opening the Arctic to oil exploration, completely antithetical to the Clinton-Gore intent to shut off the Arctic for that purpose.
His Labor choice, tough-minded Linda Chavez, has been thrown to the wolves, even though she is Hispanic. She committed the offense of befriending and financially helping immigrants, at least one of whom was illegal.
It's not enough for Democrats that she has a big heart. What's really going on is that they know she's no friend of unions.
And then there is John Ashcroft, the nominee for attorney general, who by all measures is an honorable and committed public servant. But he has a couple of strikes against him: He's anti-abortion and is not liked by African-American leaders because he has criticized affirmative action.
By the time Democrats get done with him, Ashcroft may be painted as the nation's top racist. With Ashcroft and Chavez, Democrats smell blood and are going for the kill.
What's going on? It's an impending tug-of-war between the left and the right. So far, one of the nominees in this game of musical chairs has been left without a chair. Chavez is a sacrificial lamb to Democrats who will wield every ounce of power they have - and it's considerable - to hobble Bush's ability to lead.