Half of Biden's cabinet-level picks are white. Nine were confirmed: six white, two black, one Latino. Republicans have so far called for cloture votes for three color candidates, including confirmed United States Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and Secretary of State for Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Cecelia Rouse to head the council of economic advisers. She has not yet received her confirmation vote.
MP Deb Haaland, Biden's nominee for Home Secretary, will also see her nomination being held up by Republicans who will tolerate any delay – although unlike Tanden Manchin's support, she will receive.
Republicans have also trained their attack and delay visors on Vanita Gupta, candidate for assistant attorney general, and Kristen Clarke, candidate for assistant attorney general in charge of the Department of Justice's civil rights division. Gupta was the target of a large advertising campaign from outside Republican groups. Following his confirmation hearings, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is expected to be confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services without serious problems, but only after being attacked by Heritage Action for America.
Here are some defensive measures Republicans have offered to the Washington Post for this pattern:
Forty-one Senate Democrats voted against Ben Carson, Trump's secretary for housing and urban development, who is black, and six voted against Elaine Chao, Trump's transportation secretary, so … you see, Democrats turned down Trump's nominations for color!
Carson, apparently unqualified for the job, received yes votes from six Democrats and Sen. Angus King, an independent negotiator with Democrats in what the New York Times called "a rare show of non-partisanship. “And they have to make fun of me with all this nonsense of“ Six Democrats voted against Elaine Chao ”. Incidentally, that vote took place on January 31, 2017, with the Democrats apparently not trying to delay the process.
Republicans also say Thomas Greenfield has received Republican support. Yes, after her confirmation was delayed by Senator Ted Cruz.
And then there is the good old "you deserve it". An unnamed Republican aide told the Post, "It's kind of ridiculous. The Senate Republicans are against these people because they are out of the mainstream and it has nothing to do with race."
Republicans may not want to talk about who is "outside the mainstream" while speaking out against a COVID-19 relief package supported by at least two in three voters. But of course what they mean by "outside the mainstream" actually has everything to do with race. As former Sens. Mark Udall and Tom Udall wrote in a USA Today about the campaign against Haaland: "If either of us were the nominee to run the Home Office, we doubt anyone would threaten to hold off the nomination or wage a scorched earth campaign warning of “radical” ideas. "
Republicans "know by buzzwords that they can try to conjure up these tropes over women of color leaders," Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women's Rights Center, told the Post. "These are code words that are used not just to distract, but to conjure up a picture in your head."
And Republicans make ample use of them because Donald Trump was not the only one in his party who relied on race and gender as a means of promoting division.