‘So you’re seeing a team develop that I have great confidence in,’ said former president Barack Obama this week when asked about Joe Biden’s incoming administration. Obama sounds a bit of a World King these days, but you can’t blame him for feeling chipper. He has his third book of memoirs out (he only writes about himself, it seems), he’s making millions through publishing and Netflix deals, his great nemesis Donald Trump appears finally to have been vanquished — and his gang is taking charge of Washington again.
Biden revealed a number of his cabinet ‘picks’ this week, and it’s a case of jobs for the old Obama boys and girls. Antony Blinken, deputy secretary of state under Obama, is to be the next secretary of state. John Kerry, the secretary of state under Obama, will be ‘climate envoy’. Janet L. Yellen, a chair of the Federal Reserve under Obama, will be secretary of the Treasury. Alejandro Mayorkas, deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under Obama, will be secretary of homeland security. Avril Haines, deputy director of the CIA under Obama, will be director of national intelligence. Perhaps the freshest face is Jake Sullivan, the next national security adviser, who turns 44 this week. Yet even he was director of policy planning under Obama, as well as national security advisor to the then vice-president, Joe Biden.
In fact, the incoming Biden administration is arguably more Obamaish than the original Obama administration was. In 2008, when Barack won the White House, he was a Washington neophyte who had to contend with the considerable power of the Clintons. His campaign chiefs could only stand aside and gripe as Hillary Clinton, the woman Obama had beaten to become the Democratic nominee, became secretary of state and pushed her allies into the best positions. This time, it’s the Biden campaign people grumbling as Team Obama swoops back in. ‘The Obama staffers are now cutting out the people who got Biden elected,’ an anonymous Biden staffer told Politico this week.