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Biden Picking Qualified Cabinet to Help Him Make America Work Again

For the last four long years, I’ve come home expecting nothing but bad news from Washington, D.C. The current White House has lived down to that expectation every day.

It is thus a relief to be able to post a list of good things that happened in the national news today:

More than two weeks after it became clear that Americans elected Joe Biden to be our next President, the General Services Administration finally caught up with reality, recognized Biden as President-Elect, and authorized his transition team to receive federal resources and services under the Presidential Transition Act of 1963 as they prepare for an orderly transition of power to an effective Executive Branch:

Section 7 of the Act and Public Law 116-159, dated October 1, 2020, which provides continuing appropriations until December 11, 2020, makes $6,300,000 available to you to carry out the provisions of Section 3 of the Act. In addition, $1,000,000 is authorized, pursuant to Public Law116-159, to provide appointee orientation sessions and a transition directory. I remind you that Section 6 of the Act imposes reporting requirements on you as a condition for receiving services and funds from GSA.

If there is anything we can do to assist you, please contact Ms. Mary D. Gibert, the Federal Transition Coordinator [Emily W. Murphy, General Services Administration, letter to the Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr., 2020.11.23].

President-Elect Biden appointed former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to run the Treasury in his Administration. Yellen understands that beating the recession requires beating the pandemic:

Yellen echoes the president-elect in saying that controlling the pandemic is the No. 1 priority.

“I think we need a much more effective effort than we’ve had,” Yellen told Bloomberg TV in October. “And if we have that, it will be good not only for health but for being able to open up the economy.”

Yellen warned that federal aid that helped jump-start the recovery during the spring and early summer is drying up, even as new daily infections are soaring.

“Fiscal policy response in the United States has been extremely impressive,” Yellen said. “But the fiscal support has now lapsed.”

Emergency unemployment programs that currently support some 13 million people are set to expire at the end of December. Yellen stressed the need to extend relief for jobless workers as well as for cash-strapped state and local governments [Scott Horsley and Franco Ordoñez, “Biden Picks Janet Yellen to Be Treasury Secretary in Historic Appointment,” NPR, 2020.11.23].

President-Elect Biden named the richly experienced Avril Haines to direct national intelligence:

Haines, 51, worked with Biden under President Barack Obama and led the Biden transition’s national security and foreign policy team. She served as the White House deputy national security advisor and deputy director of the CIA.

…Haines has the respect of many in the intelligence community, former director of the CIA John Brennan told NPR. Her intelligence career spans over a decade: from the White House to the CIA, the NSC to the Department of State.

“[Haines] is widely respected among intelligence professionals, and her superior intellect, humility and legendary work ethic are deeply admired by the thousands of intelligence officers with whom she worked during the Obama Administration,” said Brennan.

Brennan also said that her varied and extensive intelligence background will help the Biden administration hit the ground running in January.

“She enjoys the complete trust and confidence of Joe Biden, who will look to [Haines] to restore integrity and honesty at the helm of the intelligence community,” said Brennan [Dustin Jones, “Avril Haines Nominated as First Female Director of National Intelligence,” NPR, 2020.11.23].

President-Elect Biden has chosen career diplomat Linda-Thomas Greenfield to speak for our nation at the United Nations:

Thomas-Greenfield is a 35-year veteran of the foreign service who oversaw the Bureau of African Affairs during the Obama administration. She has served director general of the foreign service as well as ambassador to Liberia. She has written about the need to rebuild the State Department, which has been hollowed out by the Trump administration [Michele Kelemen, “Biden Picks Foreign Service Veteran Linda Thomas-Greenfield for U.N. Ambassador,” NPR, 2020.11.23].

I’d like to stand up and cheer wholeheartedly for Biden’s pick of Cuban-American immigrant Alejandro Mayorkas to run the Department of Homeland Security and thus to repair our broken and cruel immigration system, but Mayorkas “created an appearance of favoritism and special access” to Democratic poobahs when he ran the corruption-plagued EB-5 visa investment program as USCIS director from August 2009 through December 2013. That’s a small ding—there’s no evidence Mayorkas did anything as bad as Mike Rounds, Joop Bollen, and Richard Benda tried to do with EB-5 here in South Dakota, but I’ve spent too much time explaining how EB-5 was corrupted in South Dakota to cut any slack for anyone connected to similar EB-5 shenanigans.

Back to wholly good news, recognizing that fighting climate change requires as much diplomacy as science, President-Elect Biden has named former Secretary of State John Kerry as climate czar:

Kerry, the former secretary of state, is a diplomatic heavyweight who helped piece together the landmark Paris climate agreement during the Obama administration and pushed hard for domestic climate policies as a US senator.

“I’ve asked him to return to government to get America back on track to address one of the most urgent national security threats we face—the climate crisis,” Biden said in a statement released on Monday. “This role is the first of its kind: the first cabinet-level climate position, and the first time climate change has had a seat at the table on the National Security Council.”

…Unlike some cabinet roles, it will not require Senate confirmation, the New York Times reported [James Temple, “Biden Names John Kerry Climate Czar, in a Recommitment to Global Cooperation,” MIT Technology Review, 2020.11.23].

Getting Kerry’s old job is Antony Blinken, a beacon of competence and confidence whose appointment as Secretary of State, as CNN’s Chris Cillizza observes, speaks volumes about the criteria motivating all of President-Elect Biden’s transition appointments—a keen desire to refill government with good public servants who can rebuild America’s global reputation:

He, like [Biden chief of staff Ron] Klain, has deep roots with Biden. He served as staff director at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden chaired it. He was Biden’s national security adviser in the vice president’s office. And like Klain, he is a longtime Democratic policy hand. Blinken served in the Clinton administration as special assistant to the president and chief foreign policy speechwriter for the president.

He is, in short, a veteran of both Bidenworld and national politics as well. He’s been there and done that.

Blinken is a striking contrast to Trump’s first secretary of state, former Exxon boss Rex Tillerson, who Trump touted as the crown jewel of his Cabinet but who proved ineffective at building relationships within the State Department or with the President. Tillerson was an outsider, and Trump loved that. Blinken is an insider, and Biden loves that.

The Blinken pick — and Biden’s decision to name him first among his Cabinet choices — is best understood, then, as the President-elect doing everything he can to make clear that he will be the exact opposite of the man who preceded him in office. If Trump pulled back from the world community, Biden will embrace it. If Trump valued outsiders with little to no past political experience in key Cabinet posts, Biden will lean on people with long resumes of service in past administrations [Chris Cillizza, “Why Biden’s Secretary of State Pick Tells Us a Lot About His Priorities as President,” CNN, 2020.11.23].

Even after the GSA’s unconcscionable delay in providing his team the resources to which the law and the mandate of the American people entitle him, President-Elect Joe Biden is showing he knows how to repair and run the United States of America. To handle that Herculean labor, President-Elect Joe Biden is picking qualified public servants to help.

I look forward to coming home to four years of nightly news about what President Biden and his qualified, competent team are doing to really make America great again.

7 Comments

  1. Moses6 2020-11-23

    Kristi May not be happy with this did she not say there was problems with the election process.Ye hah what you say Gov.

  2. Notinks 2020-11-23

    Ahhh normalcy sweet normalcy.

  3. grudznick 2020-11-24

    How will the Deep State react to all this? I guess we shall see.

  4. o 2020-11-24

    grudznick: I have a few friends in the “deep state.” They are public servants who took jobs in government because they believe in our nation’s ability to help each other and harness that ability as only government can. They are excited at the prospect that the important work they do will now be supported instead of undermined (both actively and passively). No matter the craven political bickering at the top, these “deep state” servants will continue to help people find health care, food for themselves and their children, jobs, and homes to live in — as they have striven to do — whoever occupies the White House.

  5. Jake 2020-11-24

    O, one has to forgive Grudz -somewhat- having been one beholden to so many conflicting $$$$ that put him on the side of those who didn’t think of the Nation first and foremost.

  6. Mark Anderson 2020-11-24

    The Biden team is picking well qualified people who happen to look like America. Not so difficult if your a Democrat and not bad for an old white guy either.

  7. grudznick 2020-11-24

    Thank you, Mr. o. I understand better now.

    Deep State is good.
    Qanon which is embedded in our state government is good and bad.

    Deep State in our state government is working behind Governor Noem’s back.

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