Rep. Melvin Watt (D-N.C.) returned to the diversity question. "You brought 10 staff people with you," he said, "all white males. . . . But I hope you've got more diversity in your staff than is reflected here. Please reassure me that is the case."I guess that it wouldn't have been good for Chertoff to follow the example of Reagan-era Secretary of the Interior James G. Watt (no relation, I'm sure, to Congressman Watt of North Carolina), who famously lost his job after noting the diversity of his staff by saying, "I have a black, a woman, two Jews and a cripple. And we have talent."
"I think that is definitely the case," Chertoff said.
"Okay," Watt said, and appeared to begin moving to another question.
But Chertoff continued: "I wouldn't assume that the ethnic background of everybody behind me is self-evident."
Watt replied: "I wouldn't assume the ethnic background of everybody behind you is self-evident, but I think I know an African American when I see one. . . . If anyone wants to stand up and volunteer and tell me they are an African American, I hope they will do that right now."
No one stood. Some in the audience began laughing.
"If anybody is a female that's sitting back there and wants to stand up and volunteer to tell me that," Watt continued, "I hope they will do that right now. And I want the record to show clearly that nobody stood up to volunteer in either one of those categories.
"So if you want to make that point and be cute about it," Watt said, "let me be explicit about it. . . . If we are going to do law enforcement in this country . . . we need to understand that there is an element of diversity in our country that is not represented here."
No, that wouldn't have gone over well at all.
The WaPo article continues: