24 November 2020

Biden's descriptions of his first appointees

Many readers will have already seen the names and perhaps some biographical information at various internet sites, but I think it's interesting and refreshing to see Biden's own assessment of his appointees:

Begin forwarded message:

From: Joe Biden <info@joebiden.com>
Subject: My first Cabinet nominations
Date: November 23, 2020 at 14:27:33 EST


It’s been a couple of weeks since I last reached out. In the time since, we have been hard at work, building a government that reflects the values we campaigned on: healing our nation’s great divides at home and restoring our leadership role abroad. You were an integral part of our team, so I wanted to share some exciting news: I’ve selected my first Cabinet nominees.

The men and women I am announcing today will be core members of my national security, foreign policy, and law enforcement team. They are experienced and crisis-tested. They will keep us safe and secure. And, they are leaders who look like America and reflect my core belief that America is back and that we lead not just by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.

I’m honored to introduce these six extraordinary individuals:

Tony Blinken as Secretary of State
Tony is one of my most trusted advisors, and no one is better prepared for the job. He served as my staff director on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when I was a Senator. He went on to serve as my National Security Advisor when I was Vice President and as Deputy Secretary of State under President Obama, continuing a life-long dedication to public service. Tony is universally respected by those who know him, and with good reason. He’s a principled, compassionate leader, and as America’s top diplomat, he’ll help strengthen our State Department and represent how America is strongest when we lead with our values.

Alejandro Mayorkas as Secretary of Homeland Security
The son of refugees, Ali will be the first Latino and immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security. As Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama, he led the implementation of DACA, enhanced our cybersecurity, and responded to natural disasters and public health threats like Ebola and Zika. He will play a critical role in fixing our broken immigration system and understands that living up to our values and protecting our nation’s security aren’t mutually exclusive—and under his leadership, they’ll go hand-in-hand.

Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence
A consummate national security professional, Avril was the first female Deputy Director of the CIA, and now, she will be the first woman to hold the office of Director of National Intelligence. I’ve worked with her for over a decade. She’s brilliant and humble and will always tell it straight while engaging in this work in a way that reflects our shared values. Under her leadership, our intelligence community will be supported, trusted, and empowered to protect our national security, without being undermined or politicized. We will be safer because of her.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
As a 35-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield is a distinguished, respected diplomat who has served on four continents. Raised in segregated Louisiana, she follows in a tradition of barrier-breaking African-American diplomats who have dedicated their lives to public service, and brings critical perspective to a role that is more important—and more necessary—than ever before. As UN Ambassador, Linda will renew our relationships with our friends and allies, help revitalize our diplomatic corps and restore America’s reputation on the world stage.

Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor
Jake was my National Security Advisor during my Vice Presidency, and a top advisor on domestic and foreign policy throughout my campaign, including on our strategy for controlling the pandemic. No one has a deeper understanding of the overlapping challenges we face, and how to protect our national security and advance a foreign policy that delivers for the middle class. He will be one of the youngest National Security Advisors in history, and his once-in-a-generation intellect and poise under pressure makes him the ideal choice for one of the toughest jobs in the world.

Secretary John Kerry as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
Secretary Kerry needs no introduction. From signing the Paris Agreement on behalf of the United States as Secretary of State, to forming a bipartisan climate action coalition alongside the next generation of climate activists, his efforts to rally the world to combat climate change have been expansive and relentless. Now, 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. 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. There could be no one better suited to meet this moment.

This team will be ready to take on our nation’s greatest challenges on day one, which is important because there is no time to waste when it comes to our national security. In adding these great Americans to my team, I hope my message is loud and clear: America is back. And America is ready to lead.

Thanks for all you do,

Joe Biden


  1. Nice to see cabinet appointments based on qualifications and experience. One gets the sense that there is now an adult in charge.

  2. Oh good, more Obama-era foreign policy.

    I do miss the days of the unchallenged Russian conquest of Crimea, aimless military misadventures in Syria, multiple unchecked North Korean nuclear tests, a short-sighted destabilization of Libya (now enjoying public slave auctions), delivering pallets of cash to Iran in exchange for maybe kinda toning down the state sponsored terrorism, and complete permissiveness towards an adversarial China.

    Being credentialed is not the same as being competent

    1. Oh good, more Obama-era foreign policy.

      Policy made by people you can have a reasoned debate with? That will not threaten to lock you up if you disagree? That will contradict their boss if necessary?

      The horror!

    2. You'd prefer another four years of self-serving incompetence?

    3. Where is the supposed competence of these people coming from? Their legacy is failure.

    4. I am glad to see that our government will again be able to spy on political opponents non stop and without worry of being prosecuted. Everyone knows that is the first step we need to take to be the banana republic everyone wants...

    5. Obama did some things wrong, but that's better than his predecessor who didn't do anything right. I'll take a president who hires people based on experience over one who hires people because he sees them on TV.

    6. Again, their experience is failure. Their world-view is fundamentally at odds with what our genuine challenges as a country are.

      Trump might not have been the best player, but at least he was playing the right game. Now we're moving back into a foreign policy that has few to no genuine victories, all for the sake of...what?

    7. George Bush did not do anything right? Really? And who did he hire that he "saw on TV?"

    8. FWIW worth re China, via the NYT:

      The presidents who came just before Donald Trump took a mostly hopeful view of China. Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and the two George Bushes all tried to integrate China into the global economy and political system. Doing so, they believed, could persuade China to accept international rules and become more democratic.

      The strategy largely failed.

      China used access to the world’s markets to grow richer on its own terms. It rejected many international rules — on intellectual property, for example — while becoming more authoritarian at home. As a recent Times story puts it, China has adopted “increasingly aggressive and at times punitive policies that force countries to play by its rules.”

      Trump is not a close student of international affairs, but he evidently grasped China’s ambitions in ways that his predecessors did not. He treated it as what it almost certainly is: America’s most serious threat since the Soviet Union.

      Trump’s China policy had a different weakness, in the eyes of many experts and foreign diplomats. He antagonized allies who are also worried about China’s rise, rather than building a coalition with Japan, Europe, Australia and others. As Keyu Jin, a Chinese economist at the London School of Economics, has written, Trump has been “a strategic gift” for China.

      Soon, it will be Joe Biden’s turn — to see if he can manage China more effectively than other recent presidents have. (Yesterday, Biden introduced his foreign-policy team.)

      His administration is likely to take a different approach to China than it does on many other issues. On those others, like climate change and health care, Biden will be trying to reverse Trump’s policies. On China, Biden instead seems set to accept Trump’s basic diagnosis but to strive for a more effective treatment. The Biden team’s critique of the current China policy is about “means more than ends,” Walter Russell Mead wrote in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.

      Biden and his aides have signaled that they will not return to the wishful pre-Trump policy toward China (even though several of them helped shape that policy in the Obama administration). “The United States does need to get tough with China,” Biden wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine in January.

    9. "Trump might not have been the best player, but at least he was playing the right game."

      A quarter of a million Americans are dead and millions more have lasting health conditions, not to mention the economic effects, because of Trump's incompetence in both foreign and domestic policy. How is that not a failure?
      For that matter how are matters of life and death by any stretch of the imagination a "game", let alone the right one?

    10. OK horse, we'll go through these 1 by 1...
      Crimea: we did complain and built a consensus in Europe resulting in economic sanctions on Russia and personal sanctions on the oligarchs responsible. These measures... were cancelled by Donald Trump
      Syria: ISIS was contained by Jan 2017. Trump betrayed the Kurds...
      Libya: you win this one. Trump's policy has been better in that he didn't have one, which has been better but is a low bar to clear
      Pallets of cash: this occurred before Obama was even a senator during the Bush administration. I wouldn't hire any of W's people either.
      Obama had excellent China policy. Expansionism went crazy over the last 4 years...wonder why...
      I would add Yemen and the Drone war to Obama's sins but deputy department heads don't formulate policy so that really isn't a criticism of these appointments

  3. The book, the Fifth Risk, describes the Obama/Trump transition in all it's glory. We deserve serious people who can do serious work.

  4. We really need to get away from "will be the first (sex, race, ethnic, religion, etc.) person". That no longer sounds right, and, diminishes the worth of the person it refers to.

    1. I second that sentiment. Though it is a bit jarring sometimes (as a woman) to learn that no woman has ever been in a role. It's more depressing than uplifting.
      But the phrasing does imply a lack of merit that is a bit insulting considering all someone has to overcome to be the "first" of something.

    2. maybe we should refer to the president elect as 'the first delawarian elected president'.


    3. Or as "the first man from Delaware to be elected President".

  5. Not gonna miss all the indictments, resignations and Twitter firings.

  6. Professionals rather than sycophants, what a pleasant change.

  7. I would have liked to see who Bernie picked. Probably not a bunch of brass collar politicians.

  8. Looks like these folks do not need orientation to either their role or their department. Good!

  9. Blinken - Harvard, Columbia
    Mayurkas - UC Berkely, Loyola (LA)
    Haines - U. of Chicago, Georgetown
    Sullivan - Yale, Oxford
    Kerry - Yale, Boston College (served in the military during Vietnam)

    I am sure these are all fine people and will do well in their positions (or not, who knows?). I simply post this as food for thought in light of the 12 Nov 2020 post on TYWKIWDBI, "Roots of social violence," (https://tywkiwdbi.blogspot.com/2020/11/the-roots-of-social-violence.html#comment-form). No doubt past administrations of both parties have had appointees with similar educational backgrounds, so I am not posting this as a criticism of Democrats. Biden promised a diverse administration. There is more to diversity than ethnicity and gender.

    Also, Haines and Mayurkas, and perhaps others to come. may be "the first...," but they are hardly strangers to the ruling class.

    Since this is the month of Veterans Day, thank you to Mr. Kerry for his service in the military. He earned a Bronze Star (with Valor), a Silver Star, and three Purple Hearts.


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