Kaufman: Clouds of Obama-era influence gathering in Biden’s Cabinet

Barack Obama/Twitter

President-elect Joe Biden seems in a headlong rush to fill his Cabinet with familiar faces from the Obama administration.

For starters, Biden will select long-time diplomat Tony Blinken as his secretary of state.

Blinken was Obama’s deputy secretary of state from 2015-17 and deputy national security adviser from 2013-15. He was Biden’s national security adviser from 2009-13.

Many believe Blinken’s selection proves Biden plans a return to a strategy prioritizing foreign alliances, instead of America First policies. A criticism is Blinken helped push an early retreat from the Iraq War that led to the rise of ISIS.

Jazz Shaw at HotAir wrote, “Biden is aiming to go with what’s perceived as a ‘safe’ choice in this case. If you’re looking for someone with the requisite experience and qualifications, it’s hard to complain much about Blinken, at least if you’re a Democrat.”

As a career foreign policy official, Blinken is expected to lead the efforts to rejoin controversial international agreements like the Paris Climate Accord and the failed Iran Nuclear Deal — which even some Democrats know is unwise. Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice was also considered but, due to a track-record giving myriad reasons to oppose her nomination, Biden sidestepped that option.

Blinken has not been reticent to criticize the Trump Administration, alleging their “retreat from international institutions has done tremendous damage to the U.S. and to our standing in the world, which in turn is not good for Israel. Whether we like it or not, the world doesn’t organize itself. Until this administration, the U.S. played a lead role, doing a lot of that organizing — in helping to write the rules, shape the norms, and animate the institutions that govern the way countries relate to each other. And the challenge now is that President Trump has largely abdicated that role and responsibility of putting us in many places in full retreat from our close allies.”

The hard left is already demanding Blinken, who is Jewish, be hostile to our chief ally, Israel.

Blinken attended top Manhattan private schools as a child before moving to Paris. He returned to attend Harvard and earned his law degree at Columbia University. The 58-year-old’s wife also worked for Biden. The insider couple met 25 years ago while working in the Clinton administration.

For the key role of Treasury Secretary, Biden chose former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. The first female to hold the job, she will likely be involved in responding to the pandemic and more.

“Job One is getting out front and selling another stimulus package,” Stifel Financial’s Brian Gardner said. “Then it’s crafting and selling a tax plan and infrastructure plan. Then it’s trade.”

During the 2020 campaign, Yellen briefed the Biden team on economic matters after the fallout from coronavirus.

The president-elect did not choose President and CEO of TIAA Roger Ferguson, who could have been a unifying choice due to his experience in both the public and private sectors. That might have assuaged concerns from Republicans who believe Yellen is burdensome on businesses.

Barack Obama appointed Yellen to be his Federal Reserve chair six years ago, and she held the role until President Trump appointed Jerome Powell early in 2018.

Yellen, 74, was born in New York City and graduated from Brown University with a degree in economics and received her doctorate from Yale.

She is a weak dollar Keynesian — preferring proactive government action to combat market volatility —  more concerned with unemployment than inflation, and thus unlikely to hike interest rates. She generated controversy in 2017 by claiming there will not be another economic crisis “in our lifetime.”

Despite this, many say Yellen will be welcomed by investors because she’s a known quantity.

But she’s also from the progressive wing and, as a CNN favorite, falls for clichés on “inequality” and hysteria on “climate change” policy.

“What I see is a growing recognition on both sides of the aisle that climate change is a very serious concern and that action needs to occur,” she said last month. “It looks like the economy is doing well but there are a lot of people who aren’t doing well.”

Biden also tapped Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.N. Ambassador Monday. The Louisiana native, 58, may be a southerner, but she is no Nikki Haley. 

A member of the Career Foreign Service, she served as assistant secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs during Obama’s second term. Prior to her government work, she taught at Bucknell University. Greenfield holds degrees from Louisiana State University and the University of Wisconsin.

A Monday USA Today story claimed “she would bring a markedly different tone and presence to the international body, which the Trump administration has derided and denigrated.”

Cheryl Crumley of the Washington Times wrote Greenfield “carries a big social justice stick” and is “always apologizing for America. Her main theme now is diversity. Diversity at all costs, diversity before competence even, diversity and putting America back in a subservient place.”

To continue the “firsts” obsession, Avril Haines will be the first woman to oversee the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. (When Gina Haspel became the first female CIA Director, there was little fanfare, mostly hatred).

A New York City native, Haines worked at the White House starting in 2010 as a legal adviser, followed by CIA deputy director and principal deputy national security adviser.

Haines, 51, is a woman of the left. She recently signed a letter from the anti-Israel lobby J Street that complained previous Democrat platforms had been “silent on the rights of Palestinians, on Israeli actions that undermine those rights and the prospects for a two-state solution.”

Lastly, it was announced that former Secretary of State John F. Kerry will help the incoming administration’s efforts to fight natural weather patterns. The position as some sort of “climate czar” does not require Senate confirmation. The septuagenarian failed presidential candidate tweeted Monday that “America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is.”