In which I am reliably informed both parties are the same

There is a thing that I’ve been saying lately, which is that whenever Republicans get into the White House they tend to staff the various federal departments with people whose entire lives have existed in contrary to the mission of that department. Betsy DeVos, who has worked to destroy public education for her entire life, became Secretary of Education, for example. Oil execs get put in charge of the environment. Even in cases where a Republican might actually be an acceptable public servant in one role– I have no reason to believe Ben Carson would have been a terrible Surgeon General, for example– they get put into roles that do not actually match their skill sets, like HUD.

I’ve asked several times for the Internet to provide me with even a single example of a Democrat putting, say, a lifelong pacifist in charge of the Defense Department or something similar, and never once have they come through for me. But hey! Biden’s entire Cabinet is, like, right there! And, granted, none of them have been officially confirmed yet, and so it’s entirely possible some things might change, but let’s take a quick look (a quick look; I don’t have all day) at these folks and see if any of them appear to be painfully unsuited for office:

NAME: Anthony Blinken
POSITION: Secretary of State
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Looks like he’s been deputy Secretary of State, Deputy NSA Advisor, and Biden’s own NSA advisor. He passes.

NAME: Janet Yellen
POSITION: Secretary of the Treasury
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Chair of the Federal Reserve, Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve, Member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Pass!

NAME: Lloyd Austin
POSITION: Secretary of Defense
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Retired four-star general, former CENTCOM commander. Pass.

NAME: Merrick Garland
POSITION: Attorney General
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I don’t even need to look this one up: experienced lawdog, former Supreme Court nominee, the guy who sent Timothy McVeigh to jail. Pass.

NAME: Deb Haaland
POSITION: Secretary of the Interior
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Elected official, Vice-Chair of the Committee on National Resources while in the House. I don’t really know what the Secretary of the Interior does but this sounds good.

NAME: Tom Vilsack
POSITION: Secretary of Agriculture
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I assume anyone from Iowa can do this job. Next!

NAME: Gina Raimondo
POSITION: Secretary of Commerce
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Governor of Rhode Island, General Treasurer of Rhode Island, and according to Wikipedia a former venture capitalist. Has a degree from Harvard in economics. Pass!

NAME: Marty Walsh
POSITION: Secretary of Labor
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Former Mayor of Boston and member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Former union president, former head of the Boston Building Trades. Pass.

NAME: Xavier Becerra
POSITION: Secretary of Health and Human Services
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Previous AG of California, former House representative. Econ degree from Stanford. I admit I don’t see anything that screams HHS to me but I’m not a hundred percent what would.

Are we starting to see a trend here? But these are just the topline folks, let’s keep going. Surely we’ll find an anarchist or a pacifist or a felon or something in here somewhere.

NAME: Marcia Fudge
POSITION: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Another “solid public servant” sort of nomination; Fudge was in the House and is a former mayor. She was born and raised in Cleveland and appears to still live there– the city she was mayor of is an East Side suburb– so I’m going to go out on a limb and assume some competence with urban issues.

NAME: Pete Buttigieg
POSITION: Secretary of Transportation
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Used to be my mayor. Once nearly got killed by an inattentive driver while jaywalking. Uh … rearranged a lot of streets downtown while mayor in a way that actually did really improve downtown? (Important note: there are no longer any one-way streets downtown, which means the scenario I describe in that link is no longer possible.) I dunno, he’ll do fine, and he’s not, like, opposed to the concept of transportation or something like that.

NAME: Jennifer Granholm
POSITION: Secretary of Energy
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Former Attorney General and Governor of Michigan; again, I admit there’s nothing in her bio that screams “Secretary of Energy,” but she hasn’t spent her entire career trying to shut down power plants and force us to go back to fire or anything like that. Wikipedia notes that her nomination was “received favourably among major energy experts,” and spelled “favourably” exactly like that. Does not appear to be a slave of the oil industry or anything like that, either.

NAME: Miguel Cardona
POSITION: Secretary of Education
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: First SecEd nominee in two administrations who I didn’t think was literally Satan (remember, I think Obama was shit on education too,) so he has to be a step up. Literally anyone would be a step up over DeVos.

NAME: Denis McDonough
POSITION: Secretary of Veterans Affairs
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: White House Chief of Staff, Deputy NSA, graduated from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. Curiously, does not appear to be an actual military veteran. That’s kind of shaky, but the rest of his resume is solid.

NAME: Alejandro Mayorkas
POSITION: Secretary of Homeland Security
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, so … yep. We’re good here.

NAME: Ron Klain
POSITION: Chief of Staff
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: The Chief of Staff is a Cabinet member? Sure, fine, he can have whoever he wants here.

NAME: Michael Regan
POSITION: EPA Administrator
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, worked for the EPA during the Bush and Clinton administrations, regional director for the Environmental Defense fund. Note that his predecessor in this role was a coal lobbyist. He passes.

NAME: Neera Tanden
POSITION: Office of Management and Budget Director
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Neera’s been all over the place, and appears to be an asshole of the My Kind of Asshole variety, but has experience at the Center for American Progress, helped to draft Obamacare, and was Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s policy director during their presidential runs. All good.

NAME: Katherine Tai
POSITION: U.S. Trade Representative
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: She’s the chief trade counsel for the House Ways and Means committee, so this is another “I’m not sure what you do, but yeah, that sounds good” nominee.

NAME: Isabel Guzman
POSITION: Small Business Administrator
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Appears to have previously had basically this exact job for the state of California, which is, what, a third of the US economy? She’ll do fine.

NAME: Avril Haines
POSITION: National Intelligence Director
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Deputy NSA under Obama, former Deputy Director of the CIA. All good.

NAME: Linda Thomas-Greenfield
POSITION: UN Ambassador
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I kind of assume anybody can be an ambassador, because it tends to be a “donated a lot of money and wants patronage now” sort of job, but she was the assistant SoS for African Affairs and the Director General of the foreign service, and has been an ambassador to Liberia, so again, yeah, sounds great.

NAME: Cecilia Rouse
POSITION: Chair of Council of Economic Advisers
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I mean … she’s an economist? Dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs? She’s fucking FIVE YEARS YOUNGER THAN ME?? Christ.

NAME: John Kerry
POSITION: Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I mean, he was Secretary of State. John’s gotta have some kind of job, that ketchup money isn’t gonna last forever.

NAME: Eric Lander
POSITION: Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I said on Twitter the other day, and I wasn’t joking, that the first Republican nominee to this office would be an illiterate Pentecostal preacher. This is a new Cabinet-level position created by Biden, and the guy he’s tapped for the job is a mathematician and geneticist and somehow is a professor at MIT and Harvard at the same God damned time and yeah I think he’ll do just fine.

So, what was the worst I was able to find? A few people with reasonably solid resumes whose experience didn’t seem precisely suited to the position they were nominated for based on a cursory Wikipedia search. A whole lot of people with lots of experience that is directly related to the position they were nominated for. And Pete Buttigieg. Who will do just fine, I’m sure; I’m kidding. Now, I’m not claiming these are all good people, or that they’ll all be good at their jobs; some of them may not actually take their offices, some won’t last long, one or two will end up getting fired; hell, one or two may end up getting indicted, who knows. But there’s no one on this list where you look at them and immediately know that their actual job is to sabotage the department they’ve been nominated to head and keep it from doing anyone else any good.

Funny how that works.

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Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.

2 thoughts on “In which I am reliably informed both parties are the same

  1. Breaking my heart that you don’t know what the Sec of Interior does when she’s such a historic pick. She’ll be in charge of all the federal lands, national parks, etc. But most importantly, she’s a Native American in charge of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The first.

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    1. To be clear, I know what The Interior is, at least in the sense that you lay it out above; I’m just not sure precisely what prepares one for doing that job on a day-to-day basis, and, y’know, she’s not an oil magnate or some shit like that. (And I was trying to stay away from First So-And-So types of comments, or the post would have been twice as long.)

      I am not trying to break hearts. 🙂

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