This video is long, but if you really want to get a sense of where President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris are in terms of their approach to America’s place in the world–and the interrelationship between foreign policy and our nation’s families–it’s well-worth watching.
I’m thinking not only of American readers of my blog who may not have seen this presentation, but also our many friends around the world who have been fearful and flabbergasted as they’ve watched the current administration over the past four years.
The individuals in the above video are the choices to handle foreign affairs and national security, although some critical positions, such as Secretary of Defense and Director of the CIA, haven’t yet been filled.
The emphasis is on diplomacy, and I view the inclusion of John Kerry in a newly created Cabinet-level post as US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate as a very welcome, important addition, showing the Biden administration’s seriousness on this most critical issue that must be addressed yesterday!
These people show that Biden prizes knowledge, governmental experience, and independent thinking. Keeping in mind the huge dilemmas that face him and us, I am not at all put off that Biden has selected people whom he knows well, who have solid relationships worldwide, and have previously received security clearance, meaning they’ll be ready on Day One (which means they’ve already begun working).
I expect some fresh new faces will be included when subsequent appointments are announced–though perhaps not on the Cabinet level.
Add to these appointees the previous announcements of Ron Klain as Chief of Staff, which gained nearly universal acclaim, and Janet Yellen, former Chair of the Federal Reserve, as Secretary of the Treasury, a choice that excited both Senator Elizabeth Warren and the stock market, and I think we’re starting off very well.
If you watch the video, you’ll hear some extraordinary personal stories from Antony Blinken, appointed Secretary of State, Alejandro Mayorkas as Secretary of Homeland Security, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as US Ambassador to the United Nations, a position that now has Cabinet level status.
And you’ll meet Avril Haines, the first woman to be appointed Director of National Intelligence, as she tells the President-elect that she will deliver hard truths that he won’t always want to hear, and that she knows from working with him that he welcomes her doing so and will depend upon it. (Haines is such a fascinating person, a sort of Leonardo da Vinci in terms of her interests and capabilities, that I’m including this article about her.)
Now we just have to hope that the Senate, ideally with a Democratic majority, will act like a fair, truly deliberative body that defers to the President on his choices and confirm these highly qualified public servants. (Klain, Kerry, and Jake Sullivan, who will serve as National Security Advisor, do not need Senate approval.)
“America is back!” the President-elect told NBC’s Lester Holt in an interview. He’s certainly doing his best to make that happen–while consistently and wisely stressing that we’re not going back to what was, that we need new thinking for the problems we face.
And I, watching these masked and socially distanced individuals, and continuing to hear each speaker greet “Madam Vice President-elect,” am filled with hope and gratitude right now.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody, and cheers to those of you elsewhere in the world.