by Christian Decker, Editor-in-Chief
The election season is finally wrapping up as the Trump team’s legal battles fall apart and states ratify the accuracy of their election results. The next thing all the pundits are spending their time analyzing are what the cabinet picks for the incoming Biden administration will be. While the cabinet picks are not as flashy and heart-pounding as the general election, they still represent a fundamental aspect of the transition process, as these secretaries actually have a great deal of power and sway over how the country is run. One can’t forget the power and pull of the so-called “wise men” during the Vietnam era—Walt Rostow, Robert McNamara, Dean Rusk, and McGeorge Bundy—who blundered their way into the Vietnam War or Richard Nixon’s now infamous National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger. Suffice to say that these picks mean a lot to people and the country.
For those who felt they were backed into a corner in their choice between Biden and Trump, there was a hope that more progressive people would be chosen to lead the various departments of the executive branch. In general, most of these hopes were dashed. A lot of the picks represent the normal neoliberal policy elite that have made up most of the past Democratic administrations, and even some Republican ones. On another note, however, the picks that Biden has been floating or has confirmed represent a historic number of women and people of color.
We have some familiar faces joining the Biden administration from years past, including Ron Klain, who will become the White House Chief of Staff. Klain had previously worked for the Obama administration as a consultant on the Ebola epidemic, so presumably that was his appeal for Biden considering the current global pandemic. It remains to be seen whether he’ll be kept around after the pandemic runs its course. Dr. Fauci has already said that he’ll be staying on as a member of the Biden administration, most likely until the pandemic is under control, so it makes sense that Biden has picked people competent in dealing with situations like this.
Another familiar face in the Oval Office is John Kerry. Known for his anti-war activism after his service in the Vietnam War, Kerry also made an unsuccessful presidential run against George Bush and was Obama’s Secretary of state during his first term. This time Kerry will serve in a new role in the cabinet entitled Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. This will presumably involve discussing climate measures with other countries and perhaps working to reduce emissions. Biden’s pick for Secretary of State is Antony Blinken, who served as national security advisor during his Vice Presidency and Deputy Secretary of State for the Obama administration. This appointment appears to be a promotion for him.
Avril Haines, a former Deputy Intelligence Director, will now serve as the Director of National Intelligence, making her the first woman to ever serve in the role. Linda Thomas-Greenfield will serve as the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, replacing the infamous Nikki Haley. The Press Secretary role will be filled by Jennifer Psaki, another Obama holdover, who served in numerous communication roles. She will reportedly be part of an all-women communications team, the first in American history.
One of the more controversial picks is Neera Tanden, who is the director of the Center For American Progress, which for the past few years has been an anti-Trump think tank. Progressive Democrats and leftists have criticized this pick, as Tanden has been heavily critical of progressive policy positions such as “Medicare for All” and was openly hostile to presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and members of his staff and campaign team. The pick has been less controversial among hardline Democrats and the Democratic establishment in Congress. Tanden will head the Office of Management and Budget.
Biden’s national security advisor will be Jake Sullivan, who also served with Biden during the Obama administration. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, again another Obama holdout, will reportedly return to his previous position, but this has not been officially confirmed. The treasury secretary will be Janet Yelen, another historic first, as she will be the first woman to run the department as well as the Central Bank and the White House Economic Council of Advisors. She is hoping to be able to stimulate the economy during this pandemic. There are a couple more but there will be more news when more positions are announced, and I don’t have enough room to fit them all in an 800-word article. This should give you some idea as to the make-up and the ideals of the incoming Biden cabinet.