Biden Cabinet picks show the adults are back in charge
Well, that’s refreshing. The men and women President-Elect Joe Biden has chosen for his Cabinet and Cabinet-level posts so far not only look like America, as he promised, but also are capable of doing their jobs in a way to reassert America’s standing in the world and to reassure U.S. allies that they will no longer be abandoned.
As a Washington Post editorial put it: “Here’s a change: A national security team with integrity, experience and skill.”
Gone are the poorly qualified people who made up the revolving door of sketchy appointments made by soon-to-be-ex-President Donald Trump. Instead, we have:
- Antony Blinken for Secretary of State. He was deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration and has held senior foreign policy positions in two administrations over three decades. He also has his own rock band (Ablinken) and has explained the refugee problem to Grover on Sesame Street.
- Alejandro Mayorkas for Secretary of Homeland Security. He would be the first immigrant (he was born in Cuba) and first Latino to head the department. He led the development and implementation of the DACA program, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which Biden has promised to reinstate. He also negotiated cybersecurity and homeland security agreements with foreign governments.
- Avril Haines for Director of National Intelligence. She was the first woman to serve as deputy director of the CIA. Another first: She would be the first woman to head DNI.
- Linda Thomas-Greenfield for U.N. Ambassador. She’s a career diplomat and a 35-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service who has served on four continents. She also practiced gumbo diplomacy, in which she invited foreign officials to help her make her homemade gumbo (she is a Louisiana native, after all).
- Jake Sullivan for National Security Advisor. He’s a State Department veteran who was a lead negotiator in the initial talks that paved the way for the Iran nuclear deal.
- John Kerry for Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. The former senator and secretary of state was key in drawing up and passing the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. Trump may have pulled out of the pact, but Biden promises to rejoin on day one of his presidency. Climate action has been on Kerry’s agenda since he left government at the end of the Obama administration.
There are more nominees to come, including Janet Yellen as Treasury Secretary. Others will be announced in coming weeks.
In case you want to review the Biden appointees, you can check out the growing list at BuildBackBetter.gov. The fact that the transition website now has a “.gov” extension means it’s official.
Depending on which two candidates win the Senate runoff contests in Georgia in January, Biden will have a tougher time (if the Republican candidates win) or an easier time (if the two Democrats win) getting his picks through a Senate confirmation process. Already, Republicans senators with presidential ambitions are tweeting nonsense about “American greatness” or going on Fox News to spin lies or making false claims about “war enthusiasts” in hitting back at some of the nominees. No matter which party controls the Senate come 2021, it’s going to be a sharply divided chamber, and you can count on right-wing media to give Republicans plenty of airtime.
It will be hard to derail these excellent choices. These Biden picks already are known around the world and have strong relationships with other world leaders. They will be able to hit the ground running upon confirmation.
“America is back, ready to lead the world,” Biden said in introducing his team. Good thing, because President Biden is going to have his hands full working on the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the Post editorial put it:
Still, if they are confirmed, beginning next year, the United States will have national security principals who are capable, conscientious, well-versed in the issues they will face and not vulnerable to being undercut by presidential tweets. That’s a big step toward recovery.
America needs these competent leaders to reestablish the trust in the United States that the Trump administration squandered over the last four years.