John freakin’ Kerry. Again.
After a summer of discontent driven in part by protests against racial injustice and in part by the not-altogether-unrelated desire of a great many Americans to be rid of Donald Trump, Joe Biden has responded to his party’s call for sweeping social change by taking a deep dive into the Ivy League trash heap and coming up with the pale desiccated carcass of John Kerry, the man whose chiseled face appears next to the entry for “mediocrity” in the American political dictionary.
Kerry is leading a parade of familiar faces, a hack pack if ever there were one.
Mssr. Kerry of Switzerland’s Institut Montana Zugerberg and Yale will be joined in the administration by Anthony Blinken of the Dalton School and Harvard. Kerry will be a special envoy for climate issues, which will ensure that there is no bipartisan progress on climate issues, while Blinken, a sturdy Democratic time-server, will take over Kerry’s old job at State. Mike Donilon (prep school in Providence, then Georgetown), a ghastly political consultant, will serve Biden as a political consultant, though they’ll call him a “senior adviser.” Jen O’Malley Dillon, who has done almost nothing in her life except staff campaigns — a parade of losers and misfits including Al Gore, John Edwards, and Tom Daschle, before striking gold with Obama I and Obama II — will be deputy chief of staff. Janet Yellen, a Federal Reserve lifer who has served that institution in a number of capacities since the 1970s, will head up Treasury.
Biden, having satisfied his pledge to choose a black woman as his vice president, is settling into the familiar pattern of staffing up his administration mostly with mostly rich, mostly white Democratic functionaries long associated with elite institutions: The international law firm of O’Melveny & Myers can count among its veterans not only Mike Donilon but also incoming Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas, while incoming chief of staff Ron Klain was a Fannie Mae lobbyist who is married to an Obama veteran currently serving as a fellow at the Walton Family Foundation. Big jobs like Treasury and State will be filled by familiar faces, while black lives matter mostly for feel-good portfolios such as Cedric Richmond’s new gig over at the White House Office of Public Engagement.
One wonders if this will satisfy the hunger of black Democrats for more prominent representation.
Or, indeed, whether it will satisfy anybody.
Some conservatives may breathe a little sigh of relief that the Biden administration is apparently committed to doing nothing interesting. Complain if you like about Janet Yellen, she isn’t going to join AOC in waving the red flag with the Socialist International. On the other hand, even as the Democrats’ left wing is disappointed, Republicans looking for bipartisan progress on issues of critical national importance are likely to be disappointed as well by this same-old, same-old approach.
This is Swamp Things 2, the sequel, and the original wasn’t all that great.
John Kerry stunk on ice as secretary of state — on the other hand, Biden might have accomplished a little something on climate by tapping instead someone like Christine Todd Whitman, a green-friendly Republican who could at least have a meaningful conversation with the congressional Republicans whom Biden will need for any stable, consensus-based climate program. There is much in our financial system that still needs reform, and very little reason to think that Janet Yellen is going to now — suddenly — become the one to do it. The Obama national-security team fell down on the job all too often, and now a veteran of that mess, Avril Haines, will be director of national intelligence.
Joe Biden is likely to be a one-term president. He should embrace that and seize the opportunity to run some risks and take some chances. Instead, it’s another installment of Night of the Living Dead Democrats.
Kevin D. Williamson is the author of “Big White Ghetto: Dead Broke, Stone-Cold Stupid, and High on Rage in the Dank Woolly Wilds of the ‘Real America’” (Regnery), out now.
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