Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Karen Hughes, who recently became, in essence, America's public relations officer to the world, just picked Dina Powell to be her deputy.

Powell is the current White House personnel director, and by all accounts has done a fabulous job in that role. But when you listen to the following quotes in Elisabeth Bumiller's article about her, you get the sense that that might not be the reason for why she was promoted:
[White House Chief of Staff Andrew] Card: "She is extremely attractive, very competent, well spoken, young, she's got quiet confidence, and she is task-oriented. In other words, she gets the job done."
Joshua Bolten, White House budget director: "You can see people really taken by surprise when this young, attractive, really well-spoken person in both English and Arabic makes a presentation on behalf of the president. That sends a really strong message."
The shame of this is that Dina Powell, nee Dina Habib, really does have impressive qualifications. Not only is she the youngest person ever to have served in her present capacity, but even more importantly (given America's new public focus), she was born in Egypt and remained fluent in Arabic even after her family emigrated to the U.S.

Judging by the quotes, however, you get the sense Mrs. Powell was promoted primarily because of her sexual appeal. Which is, as mentioned, shameful. Had Powell been male, can you imagine Card having started off by saying, "He is extremely handsome"?

I understand we need to find common ground with the Arab world if we are ever to change its perception of us, but abasing ourselves by resorting to chauvinism and gender bias is not the way to do it.


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