A Slightly Giddy Little Ditty–Dressed in White
In this Centennial Year of Women’s Suffrage
A guy named Joe gave the celebration a nudge
We’ve never seen a move in the White House like it
Ya know that glass ceiling? Well, Joe sure did spike it
With Kamala VP always close by his side
He’s taking the US on a wondrous new ride
Selecting through merit so many strong women
It’s almost like Iceland—with a few men thrown in!
There’s Yellen the North Star to guide the Treasury
A smart Senate would confirm her ASAP
And Rouse, Princeton’s A-Team: the Council she’ll chair
Will use economics to stress what’s most fair
While Boushey, a Member, adds even more aplomb
To redress our inequalities of income
The same’s true for Tanden who’ll head the OMB
She recalled her youth spent mired in poverty
At Intel, with Haines, there’s already solid proof
She’s a humble genius who will tell Joe the truth
Adding strength at the UN, the world soon will see
Thomas-Greenfield will feed them her diplomacy(*)
The Communicators whom the public will know
Are all quite experienced running such a show
We’ll hear Psaki, Bedingfield, Tobar, Jean-Pierre
Deliver the messages to make us aware
Etienne and Sanders will both round out this team
They’re Kamala’s point folks as the efforts gain steam.
They look like America, a promise Joe made
But no need to wonder if it’s just a charade
Not one has been selected who isn’t topnotch
No fools, frauds, or fakers can be found on this watch
Our country is truly in such great distress
Who better than women to clean up the mess?
The Women Selected Thus Far
Kamala Harris, Vice President
Janet Yellen, Treasury Secretary
Cecilia Rouse, Chair, Council of Economic Advisers
Heather Boushey, Member, Council of Economic Advisers
Neera Tanden —Director, Office of Management and Budget
Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence
Linda Thomas-Greenfield— Ambassador to the UN
(*Thomas-Greenfield has described having people join her in cooking as a diplomatic tool)
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary
Karine Jean-Pierre, Principal Deputy Press Secretary
Kate Bedingfield, White House Communications Director
Pili Tobar, Deputy White House Communications Director
Symone Sanders, Senior Adviser and Chief Spokesperson for VP Harris
Ashley Etienne, Communications Director for VP Kamala Harris
Elizabeth E. Alexander, Communication Director for Jill Biden
But the Men Are No Slouches…
Although I am obviously enjoying this long-overdue broad recognition of the talents and accomplishments of women, I hasten to add that the men Biden has selected are equally illustrious: Chief of Staff, Ron Klain; Secretary of State Antony Blinken; National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan; John Kerry in the new and important cabinet position of Special Presidential Envoy for Climate; Jared Bernstein as a member of the Council of Economic Advisers; and Adewale (“Wally”) Adeyemo as Janet Yellen’s deputy at Treasury.
Each one of Biden’s selections is stellar in terms of intellect, accomplishments, and experience. Economist Paul Krugman, expressing delight at the economic appointees, said they’re actually overqualified: any one of the members of the Council of Economic Advisers could easily be the Chair.
The fact that Biden’s appointees are also diverse in terms of backgrounds, race, and life experiences delivers the important message that there is no discrepancy between getting the best people and tapping into talent that hasn’t always been recognized because of artificial barriers.
If you listen to the economic team nominees in the video above, I think you’ll be inspired, as I was, by their discussions of their upbringings, the setbacks they faced and overcame, their determination to attack America’s economic problems for the benefit of individuals and families, and their visions of the ways they see their mandates woven with social justice, the pandemic, the climate, national security.
They bring expertise in unemployment and job creation, consumer financial protection, the fraying social safety net, and other areas of immediate importance to improving the lives of workers, families, and people who have been invisible for far too long.
And the President-elect wisely recognized that the enormity of the problems he’s facing demands a highly experienced team.
Taken together, these appointees represent a strong, progressive group that is, to me, positioned to provide us with what most Americans want and need–urgently. “Help is on the way,” President-elect Biden said in introducing them.
(The team to address the pandemic will soon be announced.)
Questions will be raised because several nominees have past experience with lobbying groups. Those questions are legitimate, and I believe the Biden administration is prepared with strict guidelines. But I hope people will acknowledge that when individuals leave government service, they have a right to use their skills in the private sector. And they can return to government if they adhere to certain conditions. We can curb the worst excesses of lobbyists’ influence without losing some of the best people in the process.
Yet Here’s the Reality Check…
It bears repeating that so much of the potential of the Biden Presidency will depend on the Democratic candidates in Georgia—Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock—winning their runoff elections on January 5 against two opponents who have been caught as insider traders and are running truly despicable, racist campaigns.
With luck and karma, Trump’s attacks on the Republican governor and secretary of state for refusing to lie about his loss there may cost the Republican candidates votes. As of this writing, he’s following the suggestion of his erstwhile delusional attorney Sidney Powell and demanding that the Georgia election be cancelled.
(Reminder: donations and volunteer work are needed, now, for Ossoff and Warnock through their own websites, electjon.com and warnockforgeorgia.com and Stacey Abrams’ fairfight.com).
The Republicans are already gearing up to oppose Neera Tanden’s nomination to head the Office of Management and Budget because—get this—several of them found some of her tweets were mean to them (!)
The absurdity and hypocrisy, which we should be used to by now, was spelled out in a tweet from George Conway, spouse of former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway.
“So if I have this right: Republican senators who didn’t seem to care that an OMB director illegally allowed the president to withhold congressionally mandated security assistance to a foreign ally so that the president could extort personal help from the ally in support of whacked-out conspiracy theories to bolster the president’s reelection campaign think it’s potentially disqualifying that a nominee for that position tweeted uncomplimentary things about them.”
There’s so much to be positive about with the incoming administration that I’d love to leave all this stuff out. Still, reality checks are needed, and I’ve yet to see anything suggesting that the word “loyal,” which used to precede “opposition,” is operative–even as the Senate Republicans are beginning to grudgingly accept that their longtime friend Joe Biden won the election.
In 2015, Lindsey Graham described Biden in a tearful interview as “the nicest person I’ve ever met in politics…as good a man as God ever created.”
Lindsey: Tell McConnell, another old Biden friend, to let the man have the cabinet he wants and believes he needs! It’s time the Republicans acknowledged that they need to start governing and stop obstructing.
And tell McConnell what the President-elect and Federal Reserve Chairman have said: Americans need stimulus help now–they can’t wait till January!
Fortunately, I feel comfortable that the President- and Vice President-elect—and all the terrific people who have signed on to extremely demanding jobs with their administration as we face so many life and death issues—do have the country’s best interests at heart.
And I like to think that eventually many more Americans will come to realize that’s true.