Blog Brett Wilkins

Biden’s Claims About His Progressive Cabinet Picks Are Literally Unbelievable

Leftist politicians, pundits, and people reacted with indignation at the president-elect's comments about his selections.
[Screen shot / YouTube]

By Brett Wilkins / Common Dreams

Progressives responded with incredulous indignation Wednesday after President-elect Joe Biden said he is considering tapping Republicans for his Cabinet, while claiming that there is a “significant” progressive presence in his nascent administration.

Biden’s remarks came during a Tuesday interview with NBC News, the president-elect’s first since winning the election, in which he acknowledged he is considering Republicans—even people who supported President Donald Trump—for positions in his administration.

“We still have a lot more appointments to make,” said Biden. “I want this country to be united.”

When asked if he has spoken with progressive Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) or Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) about possible Cabinet nominations, Biden then said that “we already have significant representation of progressives in our administration, but nothing is off the table.”

Justice Democrats and the Sunrise Movement led progressive groups and people who pushed back on Biden’s claim, noting that while the organizations are “encouraged” by some of the new appointments, “we do not agree that progressives already have significant representation in the administration as it stands.”

The two groups suggested some potential Cabinet appointments that would lend credence to the president-elect’s “significant representation” claim, including Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) for interior secretary; either Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) or Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for housing and urban development secretary; and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) or former Detroit Health Commissioner Dr. Abdul El-Sayed for health and human services secretary.

Other observers, many with red roses on their Twitter profiles indicating their support for democratic socialism, were less diplomatic about their disdain for Biden’s choices so far:

Aligning with Biden’s comments, The Daily Beast on Tuesday published an article by Hana Trudo entitled “Progessives Can’t Find Anyone in Biden’s Cabinet to Be Mad About—Yet” that left legions of lefties scratching their heads. Many progressive Twitter users showed Trudo just how “mad” they actually are:

Outside the 280 character limit stricture of Twitter, leading progressive voices offered more incisive critiques of Biden’s selections. Panning the president-elect’s hiring of oil and gas industry favorite Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and former Big Pharma lobbyist Steve Ricchetti, Justice Democrats’ Waleed Shahid said on Democracy Now! last week that “progressives are upset” and “deserve adequate representation if Joe Biden wants to be a unity president.”

On climate change, Sunrise Movement executive director Varshini Prakash called Biden’s fossil fuel-friendly picks and prospects a “betrayal” and “an affront to the young people who made [the president elect’s] victory possible.”

On the related issue of toxic chemicals, consumer and environmental acivist Erin Brockovich lamented Biden’s inclusion of DuPont consultant W. Michael McCabe on his transition team: “Dear Joe Biden,” she wrote in an op-ed. “Are you kidding me?”

On the issue of economic inequality and supporting middle- and working-class Americans, progressive advocacy groups including Demand Progress and the Revolving Door Project have implored Biden to avoid appointing a “corporate Cabinet” and to pick people who will serve human need, not plutocrats’ greed.

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) have warned against the appointment of former Biden Chief of Staff Bruce Reed to head the Office of Management and Budget.

“We are extremely concerned by the reports that Reed is a frontrunner to head [OMB]… given his history of antipathy towards economic security programs that working people rely on,” the three Squad members said as part of a petition.

On the issue of U.S. militarism, CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin, also appearing on Democracy Now!, ripped Biden’s consideration for defense secretary of leading military-industrial complex player Michèle Flournoy—who supported the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and helped persuade the Obama-Biden administration to wage war on Libya in 2011—warning that she “represents the epitome of what is worst about the Washington blob.”

“The foreseeable dangers of picking Flournoy to run the Pentagon are compounded by Biden’s selection of Antony Blinken to be secretary of state.”
—Norman Solomon

Echoing Benjamin’s sentiments, author and activist Norman Solomon wrote for Common Dreams Monday that “the foreseeable dangers of picking Flournoy to run the Pentagon are compounded by Biden’s selection of Antony Blinken to be secretary of state.”

The possibility of Flournoy’s selection, wrote Solomon, “should be understood as a scenario for the president-elect to stick his middle fingers in the eyes of Americans who are fed up with endless war and ongoing militarism.”

CodePink and other peace groups and activists also expressed alarm and outrage over Biden’s tapping of Avril Haines as director of national intelligence, citing her role in drone strike policy during Barack Obama’s presidency and covering up torture perpetrated by members of the George W. Bush administration.

It wasn’t all anger and angst, however; Benjamin took time out for a literal song and dance to show her contempt for the prospect of a Defense Secretrary Flournoy, singing to salsa strains, “We don’t care about your gender, we care about your plans/If you are a warhawk in heels we will not be your fans.”

17 comments

  1. Look. Mr. Biden. I’m your generational cohort. Have you any awareness the extent to which your mindset/world view has been crystallized over decades? This is not unusual. For it to be open and flexible requires a constant search for who and what you are under the layers of personality and ego. Your picks so far reveal the extent to which your thinking-mind frame is – like the labels on your medicine bottles – way past it’s effective date. Today holds a dynamic reality vastly different than 40 years ago. You must deeply listen to the young. 50 years ago the young got significant help – not onerous debt – to go to college/university from the government. 50 years ago we were not on the edge of the climate abyss as we are today. 50 years ago – pre Gingrich’s Contract [on] America – the Republican party collaborated with the Democrats unlike McConnell et al. When a person shows who they are – you must believe them. Wake Up. You can be a freshly minded in an old body. Have you the slightest clue that your win was caused by the Progressives’ assiduous labors? Can you sense how they would feel were you to put Republicans in the Cabinet? Please name one Republican who fought like hell to redress the poverty and joblessness, the jobs being shifted overseas, the poverty of no health care, the wealth gap abyss of the hypercontrolling 1%? Was Kasich one who responded to the prodigious problems that our burying our American family?

  2. Progressives were incredibly disciplined in their support of Biden despite his serious shortcomings to insure Trump’s defeat. We must demand that he reciprocate when he makes appointments to his cabinet and other senior positions if he expects the support he needs to advance any legislative agenda.

    1. We can ‘demand’ til we’re blue in the face. Won’t make a blind bit of difference. This will be – at best – a retread of the Obama years. A return to the once (and future) ‘normal.

      But remember: it was that ‘normal; that supplied the compost heap out of which Trump grew. Deja vu all over again …

    2. Demand all you want. Biden (and 99%of elected officials) are only accountable to their corporate masters.

      The DNC sabatoged Bernie (again). For them it’s not “anybody but Trump” – who gives them the illusion of relevance, but “anybody but Bernie” – who makes DEMs look like the warmongering corporate whores that they are.

      Did anybody really expect someone with Biden’s long conservative record to change anything?

    3. Actually, the Left got played, again. Cracker Joe’s idea of Unity is to have neocons and neoliberals from both Partys on board for the coming wars and austerity. Did you really think Cracker Joe was going to change into someone he’s never been?

  3. AOC remarked that in any other country she and Biden would be in opposing parties. For a political mediocrity like Biden, he actually believes that a centrist is a liberal and a liberal is a “flaming” liberal.

    1. Played? I say thee nay. The made it quite clear progressives would get nothing, and what they had would be taken away as much as is possible.

  4. I keep thinking of Kurt Vonnegut’s frequent injunction to “Help each one down his own slope”.

    The declining Empire is crazed and wants to double down on its foolish mistakes. Should we be trying to make it take a more reasonable course, or should we sit back and welcome the prospect of its impending implosion? Will the implosion leave us better off or worse?

    I haven’t decided yet.

  5. it is no accident that the fascist US liberals supported the ruling class dementia patient—these obsequious counter-revolutionary status anxious freedom/justice hating toadies are consistently right wing….biden received far more campaign money from billionaires than trump

  6. Biden and the Dems continually show us who they are. So why the outrage, Progressives? I suspect it is because we dutifully kept our mouths shut in hopes that doing so would ensure Biden’s victory, and, now that that it has, we realize he feels no such obligation in return. But he’s been saying all along that he has no intention of welcoming us into the fold beyond securing our votes….for 40 years, in fact. So I find the surprise a bit much.

    The complete merging of the Rep and Dem parties – which happened long ago – is now revealing itself fully before our very eyes. And we have the truth telling Bernie and truth bending Trump to thank for pulling back the curtain (hence the 4-year hyper-ventilation of the elite.) But the point of leverage against this merger was during the last two presidential primary cycles, when it was fully exposed. As it turned out, poor Bernie proved to not have the stones to unite his followers in real fight against it, while Trump’s limited hangout only ever intended to cast (deserved) shade on the elites for the purpose of personal revenge. In not dissimilar ways, these two men both enlightened and failed us. And as a result, we we will soon be served up a ‘merger’ administration, with no opposition in sight.

    The only option for Progressives is to leave the Dem party. And why not? They left us long ago. They don’t want us. They have done everything they could in the last two presidential cycles to prevent Progressive from coalitions forming and to destroy our conversations about the just future we envision. But without us they could never win another election. So, are we courageous enough to leave them and withstand the scorn and hatred they would foist upon us for doing so? We must be. Because this is the most opportune moment we’ve had in a long time. And it would only take one or two election cycles to give the Dems their much needed comeuppance, force them to publicly unite with Republicans (where they already are,) then vote them all out. Which is exactly what they deserve.

  7. Progressives are like abused wives who won’t leave. They are enabling and complicit in whatever the plagiarist corrupt warmonger does now, so they should own it. They could have shown some dignity and independence and voted Green, or if the Democrats had removed Hawkins from their states’ ballot, could have written in Howie (or anyone). Biden owes the progressives nothing beyond thanks for your votes. Fools.

    1. “Abused wives….complicit….should own it…..fools.” Interestingly, you choose to berate, guilt trip, blame, make wrong, Progressives….Shades of attitudes and behavior not at all uncommon and, rather, quite familiar these are – altogether a dominating, obtuse, arrogant, ignorant and anger laden shot toward those abused wives” (daughters, children, sex slaves) who most likely grew up in homes where fathers berated, shamed, guilt tripped, hit, dominated, raped, and or beat the crap out of them. Strictly an assaultive message. Definitely, devoid of respect, open mindedness, compassion, any understanding and authentic interest in those you assault.And, I suspect, not at all unfamiliar to you. You know
      well what that is like to be on the receiving end of disrespect. Sad. Because you’re locked into your assumptions instead of questioning them. (about abused wives and Progressives) Sad. Because the creative thing you’re here to bring us gets buried in unexamined rage, blame, shame and grief. And, heaven knows we all need what you originally came to this beautiful, miracle of a now ravaged Earth for. You may want to check out Michael Meade (Mosaic Voices) and his Podcasts “Living Myths” …. one beautiful man, old Soul, who is clear about who he is, and is a 5 star story teller and drummer. Irresistible. Buena suerte.

  8. “amerikjans are ignorant and unteachable”. George Santayana
    when a people want fascism they get what they deserve….given that Americans despise politicians with principles, it matters not which kleptocratic moron they choose for president, or any other political sinecure. Anti-communism and money are the main religions in USA; as amerikans have become more puritanical and narcissistic they have become more obsessed with celebrities and leaders…nothi ng changes in USA

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