The Insider’s Guide to Bidenland

by Editorial

A spotter’s guide to Washington’s new political landscape

By Roland Flamini

It should come as no surprise that it’s turning out to be harder to put Donald Trump back in the bottle than it was to release him from it for his fractious one term as president.

The narrative of the recent election has had to compete with the antics of a soon-to-be-former president determined to overstay his welcome. In rejecting the reality of Joe Biden’s victory, he’s been a sore loser, raising the bar of Trump petulance to new levels.

More disturbing, though, are the signs that he plans to set himself up as the lunatic fringe of American politics in the hope of keeping alive the flame of his core support for a return bid in 2024.

It took two and a half spiteful weeks before Trump was willing to loosen his grip on the transition mechanism that allows the president-elect and his team full access to the cooperation every incoming presidential team is entitled to, and normally gets.

But long before the final victory, the Biden campaign had been quietly shaping the team that will help the president-elect guide the nation’s destiny for the coming four years. As a result, in spite of Trump’s obstructionism, Biden’s key Cabinet members and many of his White House staff were named in record time—before Trump’s in 2016, and Barack Obama’s in 2012.

Foreign policy analyst Max Boot described Biden’s Cabinet nominations as “centrist, mainstream figures with great credibility on both sides of the aisle” with “decades of [Washington] experience.” Inevitably, former Obama appointees make up a backbone of the list, but the real common thread is a shared personal connection with Joe Biden in the U.S. Senate or as vice president, in some cases going back decades.

Secretary of State-designate Tony Blinken’s close ties with Biden stretch back nearly two decades. Former Secretary of State John Kerry, Biden’s new Special Climate Envoy, and the president-elect have been fellow senators, and close friends for years.

That’s a huge contrast from the collection of billionaire neophytes with zero government experience in Trump’s Cabinet, and the short-lived platoon of generals he sweet-talked into serving in the administration until reality set in, and each one parted company on anything but cordial terms.

Biden’s top foreign policy and security appointments are focused on the urgent need to mend broken fences with long time allies, and restore confidence in the United States’ historic role as a global leader. Getting to grips with the coronavirus pandemic, and repairing the nation’s battered economy, are obviously two domestic priorities.

But in discussing his appointees, Biden has said he expects them to speak truth to power. It seems that the days of two different and contradictory narratives about the world, and about America, with very little overlap, only one of which is true, are over in Washington.

Our list of the Biden-Harris team below combines appointed or nominated members of the Biden-Harris team and the strongest candidates mentioned for the remaining posts.

Potential Cabinet

White House

Covid-19 Team

Vice President

East Wing

Biden Inner Circle

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