The Straits Times says

Less White House diversity bodes ill

In democracies of note, the leader of the nation seeks a measure of both optical and ideological balance as he or she forms a Cabinet. Such thinking not only brings in figures from the far-flung regions but also more women, conservative and liberal voices and, needless to say, a balance of youth and experience. It is a practice that has largely served American democracy well, too. The United States has largely operated on these principles even though its "winner takes all" system gives President Donald Trump free reign to form the Cabinet of his liking. He can thus rule the roost for four years until he comes up for re-election.

However, Mr Trump, perhaps the most unconventional personality to have been elevated to this powerful office, has shown himself to be not constrained by any of those principles, whether it relates to race, gender or ideas. Mr Ben Carson, in charge of housing and urban development, is the sole black face; and there are only four women in the Cabinet of 23. Most alarmingly, the American President seems to prefer only the sort of advice that parallels his own world views, instincts and leanings. The latest was his announcement over Twitter that he was replacing Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin with Dr Ronny Jackson, the White House physician who in January declared Mr Trump to be in "excellent" health.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2018, with the headline 'Less White House diversity bodes ill'. Print Edition | Subscribe