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AFP
November 25, 2020

The Biden cabinet: seasoned centrists, but with a few firsts

World

AFP
November 25, 2020

WASHINGTON: In his first cabinet appointments, President-elect Joe Biden is signaling that he favors competence and centrism and is not out to please his Democratic Party´s left-wing base, although he achieved historic firsts for women and minorities.Here are a few takeaways from Biden´s unveiling of his national security team:

VETERANS OF OBAMA

Like Biden himself, many of his cabinet members served in number two roles in the 2009-2017 administration of Barack Obama.

Antony Blinken, named to be the next secretary of state, was deputy secretary of state, while Alejandro Mayorkas was tapped to lead the Department of Homeland Security, where he had been number two. Jake Sullivan, the next national security advisor, served in a similar capacity to Biden when he was vice president, and Avril Haines, chosen for director of national intelligence, had been number two at the CIA. Janet Yellen, to be nominated to lead the Treasury, was chosen by Obama as the head of the Federal Reserve, but Donald Trump declined to put her forward for a second term.

MODERATES WHO KNOW WASHINGTON

Biden has so far chosen not to tap anyone particularly beloved by the Democratic Party´s left wing, but the pushback from progressives has been limited.

Several activists noted with dismay that Blinken, known for his advocacy on human rights, supported intervention in Syria, and they have voiced suspicion that he and Flournoy founded a consulting firm for foreign clients after the Obama administration. The incoming team appears keenly aware of the concerns.Blinken recently pushed back, politely, after the prominent thinker Robert Wright graded him a “C-” on progressive values.

MORE DIVERSE CABINET

Biden is fulfilling his promise to make the cabinet more diverse — a sharp break with Trump, who appointed more white men to top posts than any president in decades. Mayorkas, who was born in Cuba, would be the first immigrant in charge of the Department of Homeland Security, symbolizing an end to Trump´s nativist policies. Yellen and Haines would be the first women in their jobs, as would Flournoy if she is selected for the Pentagon. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a former career diplomat who is African American, was named to be the face of the United States at the United Nations.