Well, we finally have a running mate for Biden! All hail, Queen Kamala! Alabama Liberal’s readers, podcast listeners, YouTube video watchers, social media followers, and anyone who’s even had a conversation with me in the last two years knows I am fully behind this, and would’ve loved to have seen Kamala as the nominee (and perhaps will get to next time out).
But in the meantime, let’s look at some other cabinet positions and who might be my dream choices but also make sense for Biden to pick them so that it’s not too far-fetched.
Secretary of Defense: Susan Rice…Many believe this was Kamala’s biggest competition for the VP slot and might’ve gotten it if not for the late barrage of stories about her (her son voting for Trump, questions about her closeness with China, Lindsey Graham salivating at the chance to reignite the Benghazi controversy). Still, I really believe Sec. of Defense is the right position for former National Security Advisor Rice. A woman has never held this position before, so Biden will be both making history and picking the most qualified person. Runner-Up: Michele Flournoy…Supposedly, this was Hillary’s top 2016 pick for this post, and she’d be excellent. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Biden picked her.
Secretary of State: Al Gore…I know this sounds a little bit odd, but really and truly think about it: 1. Any viewer of “An Inconvenient Sequel” knows Gore played a huge behind-the-scenes role in passing the Paris Climate Accords. 2. He’s an enormously respected elder statesman as the former Vice President and would-be POTUS, and probably more popular overseas than inside the United States, meaning he’d be key in rebuilding alliances. 3. He was one of the very few major American politicians to be against the Iraq War from the very beginning (at that time Obama wasn’t truly well known, and everyone from Hillary to John Kerry to Biden himself weren’t getting it yet). 4. He helped negotiate India’s role for the Paris Climate Accords, and could negotiate similarly complex deals with them at a time when we desperately need them on our side. 5. He’s almost a modern-day Nostradamus, being right on everything from the internet to climate crisis to the Iraq War, and even playing a role in the founding of Apple, Google, and Pixar. Runner-Up: Susan Rice…It wouldn’t surprise me if Biden picked her for this instead of Defense, but I’m really hoping he’ll at least consider Gore.
Attorney General: Steve Bullock or Doug Jones…Now that we know Kamala won’t be Biden’s pick for Attorney General, I think either of these two senate candidates would be excellent. Now, of course, I’m hoping against hope that they’ll both win their senate races, and don’t mean to look like I’m rooting against them. It’s only that Bullock (the former Montana Attorney General turned Governor) has been a tireless advocate for net neutrality, and against dark money. He will be particularly aggressive in getting dark money out of the politics and deal Citizens United a death by a thousand blows. And Doug Jones would be the anti-Jeff Sessions: an Alabama senator whose record on Civil Rights is excellent (he prosecuted the Birmingham church bombers). Runner-Up: Sally Yates…I think this is who Biden will pick, and she’s a solid choice.
Secretary of Education: Senator Patty Murray…Many might consider Education Secretary a step down for the Washington senator, but I don’t. You really need someone who knows what the hell they’re doing in a post-Betsy DeVos department, and especially with the absolute disaster Coronavirus has been for schools. Patty Murray was a school teacher and education activist before she became a senator. Trust me, “overqualified” is what you want for this post at this time. Runner-Up: Kaya Henderson…The former chancellor of DC schools was one of Hillary’s top picks, and she’d be a fine choice.
Secretary of Treasury: Barney Frank…This is the toughest cabinet position to fill because of Elizabeth Warren. Back in 2016, she made it clear to Hillary that she would block her top choice (Sheryl Sandberg) supposedly out of concern for Sandberg’s work under Lawrence Summers but really because Warren wanted the post for herself. Biden can’t pick Warren for this (she’s not only extremely unpopular with Wall Street but also Main Street as a populist who isn’t actually popular, too much into her own agenda, and her state has a Republican governor), but he’s got to pick someone that Warren can’t falsely portray as a Wall Street sell-out. Barney Frank (co-author of Dodd Frank) might be the only person alive who would do both an excellent job and be palatable to progressives. Runner-Up: Sheryl Sandberg…At the end of the day, Biden can’t trust many progressives in this role (can you imagine Tom Steyer actually listening to Biden? Or Andrew Yang being ready to take this on?), and it’s his choice. Hillary had the right idea that Sandberg would be fine for it, and this is likely going to be a very tough job in Biden’s first year since a recession is almost guaranteed.
Secretary of Agriculture: Marcia Fudge…The Ohio congresswoman would be an inspired choice for a cabinet role many wouldn’t even think of a black congresswoman who represents an urban area for, but Fudge was on Hillary’s shortlist for this because it’s time to embrace more urban farming and get away from the big agriculture conglomerates (which are really more chemical companies). Runner-Up: Amy Klobuchar…It’s not so much that I want her to get this job as I think Biden might want to reward her loyalty, and this is a post she wouldn’t be terrible at. Of course, she’ll be way too close to the most monstrous of agri-chem companies, but I guess it’s better than having her as VP or Attorney General.
Secretary of Interior: Jay Inslee…Other than Al Gore, there is no American politician alive more associated with the climate change issue. Jay Inslee will be a tireless advocate for protecting the environment and the polar opposite of the bozos Trump has put in that position. Runner-Up: Gina McCarthy…Obama’s former EPA head would do a fine job in this post.
Secretary of Labor: Ayanna Pressley…Let’s be honest, Ayanna is the only member of “The Squad” who has a real political future. Ihan Omar could get indicted on a corruption charge, Rashida Tlaib could finally push it too far against Israel and get pushed out over “hate speech” charges, and AOC seems destined to flame out and quit in order to become a full-time celebrity (a la Sarah Palin). But Pressley is widely known as the most intelligent and experienced (i.e. “establishment”) of the group. Biden would be smart to give her something and elevate her so as to appease at least some of the progressives. Runner-Up: Bernie Sanders…This is the job he was actually meant for all along, and I do think he’d be great. The only issue would be that Vermont has a Republican Governor and he would be allowed to pick his replacement OR call for a special election which may very well fall into Republican hands. Biden might not want to lose Bernie in the senate at such a crucial time.
Secretary of Commerce: John Doerr…Many might see this name and be like “who?” but Doer runs the legendary VC firm Kleiner Perkins where Google, Amazon, and funding for the iPhone were just some of his early investments. Like it or not, technology will dominate most jobs and the overall economy in the future, and it’s not a bad idea to get a Secretary of Commerce with a long career of shepherding new wave technologies (not unlike Al Gore, and Doerr is also a big advocate of climate change proposals). And it’s not as far fetched as you might think since Obama appointed Doerr to an economic counsel early in his term. Runner-Up: Sheryl Sandberg…Even those that have a problem with her as Treasury Secretary have to admit she’d be a fine choice for this.
Environmental Protection Agency: Heather Zichal…One of Biden’s former co-workers in the Obama administration and an excellent choice to lead an agency that might want to start functioning again. Runner-Up: Gina McCarthy…Obama’s old EPA head, and since Biden’s campaign motto might as well be “Remember 2008 to 2016? Well, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” I can see him bringing more than one Obama era fixture back.
Secretary of Energy: Heather Zichal…Similar reasoning to why she’d be picked for the EPA, but Heather has more policy chops than most activists. That’s important since the energy department also manages nuclear weapons. Runner-Up: Dan Reicher…Another fixture from Clinton/Obama world and would be able to hit the ground running. That’s important after years of Trump-world neglect.
Small Business Administration: Andrew Yang…Not a bad idea to give the Yang-Gang something, and I do believe Yang will be easier for Biden to “manage” than some progressives (three-quarters of the squad and most likely Tom Steyer). It’s also the job I think Yang would be best suited for, as he’s not yet experienced or serious enough for the big one: Treasury Secretary. Runner-Up: Tom Steyer…Part of me thinks Steyer would be a huge pain in the ass to work with, but he’s synonymous with writing huge checks to liberal causes and climate crisis. The combination of Steyer, Gore, Insley, Doerr, and Bloomberg in a cabinet would give a very clear message that Biden takes climate crisis seriously.
Homeland Security Head: Val Demings…Biden vetted so many excellent black women for his running mate that it’ll be a shame if he doesn’t pick some of them for other positions (and I believe he will). Demings background as a former police chief of the notorious Orlando police department might be too hard-nosed for Vice President, would be a solid resume for a Homeland Security Chief, where almost anyone will look compassionate after Trump’s “kids in cages” debacles. Runner-Up: Michele Flournoy…If she doesn’t get chosen as Secretary of Defense, she’d be perfect for this job for all the same reasons.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Elissa Slotkin…Did you know that the second largest department in the federal government (after Defense) is Veteran’s Affairs? In other words, it’s a huge department that is often forgotten, and should be just right for Elissa Slotkin—a former CIA agent and state department underling turned non-flashy congresswoman. Also, this, Treasury, and Defense are the last cabinet positions that have never been held by a woman. [You didn’t know that? See, I told you this job is usually forgotten.] Runner-Up: Tammy Duckworth…I know, I know, she’d never leave the senate to do this job, but a guy can dream…
Director of National Intelligence: Hillary Clinton…Mostly to watch bad guy’s heads explode, and I don’t just mean Republicans. Vladimir Putin would be most afraid of this happening, and anything that makes him nervous can’t be a bad thing…especially at a time with plummeting oil prices and an almost-certain Russian recession. Also, there’s never been a woman in this position, and if Biden follows my picks for Homeland Security Head, and Secretary of Defense, this will be a female-led security apparatus for the first time in US history. Runner-Up: I really don’t even want to list someone, because I believe the overly cautious Biden actually needs Hillary in this role over someone who’s too deliberative and anxious (which will be his inclination, and I could see him going for Samantha Power, unfortunately).
CIA Director: Pete Buttigieg…There’s been rumors Biden is considering Pete for Ambassador to the United Nations, and that does seem to be a place for ambitious young politicians to go (Nikki Haley), but I believe Buttigieg would be even better in this role. Pete has military intelligence experience, speaks several languages, has been deployed in war, and is extremely intelligent. Runner-Up: Evan McMullin…Although Trump did not make any effort at all to reach across party lines, Democratic Presidents usually include at least one Republican in their administrations in a show of bi-partisanship. As a “Never Trump” Republicans and former CIA agent, McMullin would be an inspired choice.
United States Ambassador to the United Nations: Michael Bloomberg…Bloomberg is an internationally known mogul, and (let’s be honest) an important future wallet to the Democrats. This is the best place to put him. Plus, this will solidify Biden’s “climate cabinet” if he also appoints Doerr, Gore, and Inslee. Runner-Up: Pete Buttigieg…All the talk of Buttigieg being the early favorite for this probably means something.
Secretary of Transportation: Keisha Bottoms…Biden was clearly taken with this mayor of Atlanta during his VP search, and I can’t imagine she’d turn down a cabinet position since that’s usually a sure springboard to higher office (look at Julian Castro). If she ever wanted to run for senate or Governor, this would be an excellent launchpad. Runner-up: Deborah Hersman…A solid, experienced, boring bureaucrat that Hillary considered strongly for this position. Sec. of Transportation doesn’t need to be flashy, and almost anything would be better than having the Senate Majority Leader’s wife (who may or may not have extremely close ties to China) doing the job in what I would think would be a clear conflict of interest.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Julian Castro…Not saying he’d want his old job back, but this is certainly better than doing nothing, and he doesn’t seem particularly interested in running for the Texas senate despite people practically begging him to. Runner-Up: Stacy Abrams! …As the Obama administration proved, this could be a launch pad for national recognition (look at Julian Castro), and Andrew Cuomo held this job in the Clinton administration. Another Runner-Up: Keisha Bottoms…For all the same reasons as Abrams, and Biden appears to be a little more “in step” with her.
FCC Chairman: Al Franken…It’s time to bring Franken back, and as a former media-personality-turned-senator AND someone who truly gets it on net neutrality, I believe this is a good place for him. Runner-Up: Any warm body that realizes net neutrality is important.
Secretary of Health and Human Services: Regina Benjamin…A former surgeon general and Alabama native! Obviously, during Coronavirus is a bad time to appoint a total novice to this role. Runner-Up: Donna Shalala…Hey, she had the job under Clinton, and even though she just entered the House of Representatives, maybe she’s looking to escape already? Another Runner-Up: Sylvia Mathews Burwell…Obama’s most recent HHS Secretary dealt with Zika and Ebola outbreaks, and would be able to enter the job without training.
National Security Advisor: Col. Alexander Vindman…He was already on the National Security Council, so no one could question his qualifications. But, of course, this would also be symbolic that Biden is telling intelligent, qualified professionals that his White House is ready to embrace them after being pushed into the wilderness during the Trump years. Runner-Up: Hillary Clinton…Not sure she would take this job, but it would be slightly less controversial than Director of National Intelligence, and Biden doesn’t need senate approval to put her in this position. He can just do it.
White House Chief Strategist: Rick Wilson…Sure, this is a position that Trump created just for Steve Bannon, and there’s no guarantee Biden will have a chief strategist. Plus, “advisor to the President” jobs are the only ones that don’t require senate approval, so why waste that on a Republican? Because Rick Wilson is as good a spin doctor as Frank Luntz thinks he is, and as a “Never Trump” Republican, I believe his council would be invaluable in order to reach the unreachable: Republican swing voters.
Special Advisor to the President: Howard Dean…Many say Dean was denied a job in the Obama administration because of bad blood between himself and Rahm Emanuel, but I’d take Dean over Rahm 100 times out of 100. And as the author of the successful “50 state strategy” during his time as DNC chair, Dean appears to be one of the few Democrats alive who can both raise money and appeal to rural areas and/or red states. [At times, it appears he’s one of the few Democrats alive who even wants to.] Runner-Up: John Edwards…I’ll freely admit this is mostly because I want to see John Edwards (who was Bernie Sanders-level progressive in 2004 but nobody much noticed) rescued from the political wilderness, and really don’t know if he’d have the interest or ability in a senior-level role anymore. Still, I’d love to find out. And if you include both him and Gore in a cabinet, then Biden has built the trifecta of Democratic Vice Presidents or nominees.
White House Spokesman: Beto O’Rourke…Hey, Beto needs a job. Plus, media appearances and talking the right way are what he excels at…perhaps the only thing he really excels at. Runner-Up: I’m sure Biden has his own people inside his campaign (none of which I’ve included in these picks) that he would want for this position.
White House Chief of Staff: James Clyburn…One of the biggest assets you can ask for in this position is intimate knowledge of congress and just what the hell they’re up to. Obviously, Clyburn (one of the top ranking Democrats in the House) fits that criteria. Plus, he’s less well known (and well hated) than higher profile congressional players like Pelosi, and he was a crucial ally to Biden in South Carolina. Runner-Up: Tom Perez…Trump didn’t have a bad idea appointing the RNC head to be his first Chief of Staff, it’s just that he’s had about 15 between now and then. Perez would certainly be qualified, but I would rather he stay in the position he’s in.
SCOTUS Picks: Keisha Bottoms or Stacy Abrams…Even if both are a little too far down the ranks for the Vice Presidency, both of them have extensive legal experience. And since they can’t both be governor of Georgia one day, how about whichever has the worst chance take over for Ruth Bader Ginsburg? [Surely-to-God she will retire about one week into Biden’s term.]
Well, that’s all folks! Hopefully, Biden will win in a landslide and we can see some of these come to fruition.