Harsh Your Mellow Monday: What Did You Expect? Edition
On this Monday before Thanksgiving, which is in the opposite spirit of Harsh Your Mellow Monday, let us pause and reflect on the many, many takes in which folks have unjustly found their mellow. Those poor souls, not realizing they should not be so comfortable in being wrong, can at least be thankful that we few, we happy few, are here to correct the error of their ways in the conventional thinking that has lead them astray. Bless their hearts.
The “Who’s That” Cabinet
One of the easiest things in the world to predict was that that social media would get most of the Biden cabinet picks wrong in the usual prognostication portion of the political silly season that runs from the end of the election till the inauguration of the incoming regime. And silly some of those predictions were, where folks had a fifth of the Democratic Senate contingent suddenly abandoning the cushiest of jobs for the grunt work and anonymity of the Executive, or their favorite big-name politicians or pundits, or the particularly lazy folks who just filtered in the entire Democratic field from 2020 into the available slots.
Nope, the cabinet and key roles would be filled out by folks who most of the chattering webs would have to google, but would be very well known to Team Biden full of insiders and previously-served folks from Joe’s vast experience in both the Senate and also the West Wing for eight years under President Obama. While unimaginative pundits pined for Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, Team Joe went with folks who, at least on paper, have been there and done that:
It would be more exciting to write about how the new president is betraying his promise to shake things up in Washington by turning to the same old Beltway hands, but of course Biden always promised to turn to the same old Beltway hands so we’re left with a boring story.
— Matthew Yglesias 🍦 (@mattyglesias) November 23, 2020
Oh, lookey here:
The US president-elect, Joe Biden, will nominate the veteran diplomat Antony Blinken as his secretary of state and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as ambassador to the UN, moving forward on his campaign pledge to restore the US as a leader on the global stage and rely on experts. Blinken and Thomas-Greenfield bring deep foreign policy backgrounds to the nascent administration while providing a sharp contrast with Donald Trump, who distrusted such experience and embraced an “America First” policy that strained longstanding US relationships.
Blinken could be named as early as Tuesday, according to sources close to Biden, while Axios first reported Thomas-Greenfield’s impending nomination. Blinken’s appointment made another longtime Biden aide and foreign policy veteran, Jake Sullivan, the top candidate to be US national security adviser, a source told Reuters.
Thomas-Greenfield, served as the assistant secretary of state for Africa under Obama, and Axios reported that her appointment was intended to restore morale and help fulfill Biden’s pledge to choose a more diverse cabinet than Donald Trump’s.
Biden’s first big personnel announcement set the tone for what looks to be coming, by picking long-time confidant and Washington insider Ron Klain as his Chief of Staff:
Ron Klain, the longtime aide President-elect Joe Biden picked as his White House chief of staff, knows that “cocaine monkeys” unlock tax cuts. That’s just old-fashioned Washington horse-trading, a reflection of the deal making he helped foster during the Barack Obama era and just what he and his new boss hope to do with congressional Republicans during the post-Donald Trump era.
Mr Klain is known as a problem-solving realist in a party increasingly pushed to the left by hard-charging progressives. His ties to the party’s progressive wing do not appear that strong, meaning he will have to extend olive branches to liberal Democratic lawmakers who on Thursday demanded “payback” from the incoming administration for helping get Mr Biden elected.
Somehow, the very Twitter folks whom the Biden Campaign is now openly bragging about ignoring on their way to victory convinced themselves they would be getting the biggest say in filling out Team Biden depth chart. Joe Biden is many things, but a mystery is not one of them. He has almost 50 years of government ties, connections, hook-ups, and networks to draw from, and he isn’t going to need anyone outside his circles help in doing so. He also has the requisite favors and taking care of supporters to consider. Most of all, President-elect Biden understands how government actually works, something his predecessor never bothered with. Biden knows that Mitch McConnell still sits in charge of the senate, and he also knows from his decades of law making that the window for an incoming administration to get big ticket items done is very short. Add in a hostile US Senate and it is even shorter. A wise Biden Administration is not going to waste precious time with drawn-out and unwinnable confirmation fights just to make rose Twitter happy for the effort.
So as the cabinet fills out, expect more “who’s that” reactions than anything else, as insiders look poised to dominate the 46th presidency. With them comes some of the same old issues. Already folks on Joe’s left flank are starting to howl about too many corporate interests having influence, and with the Biden Administration sure to have a plethora of Obama and Clinton veterans in it the right will be hauling out a bunch of their ’08-’16 talking points and grievances.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The Passion of the Rafael
Possibly the most online Senator in the US Senate is at it again:
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 22, 2020
This is, of course, is a take on the famous “Come and take it” flag of Texas’ independence fight against Mexico. The fact that Ted Cruz will protect his turkey more so than he did his wife and father from his favorite president Donald J. Trump has somehow not made it into his social media feed yet.
But perhaps Ted is just off-kilter from having to change his Thanksgiving plans from how he thought November might go.
“I guarantee you…” pic.twitter.com/HRjKjtrziV
— Bad COVID-19 Takes (@BadCOVID19Takes) November 23, 2020
Bless his heart, poor Ted has just been lost as of late. When he stood on the stage of Liberty University to launch his 2016 presidential bid, he sure didn’t see this coming. Having carefully crafted himself as the great evangelical conservative hope for years, basking in applause at America’s largest Evangelical university seemed like the first step in riding a wave of right-wing support to the White House. Little did he know the man sharing the stage with him that day, Jerry Falwell, Jr., had already cast his lot with someone closer to his own greedy and morally questionable heart in Donald Trump. Trump himself rode into Liberty as a conquering hero of many conservative evangelicals despite a long list of seemingly incompatible acts. The politically concerned faithful rejected Cruz and flocked to The Donald. Having been defeated in the primary, Cruz took a shot at calibrating at the RNC in ’16 with his non-endorsement “vote your conscious” speech that got him booed off the stage and roundly mocked by just about anyone.
Ever since, having had his electoral soul ripped out through his nose by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz has been reduced to complementing President Trump on what a lovely hat The Donald made of Cruz’s former electoral soul at every possible opportunity. Senator Cruz has become a very online politician, with constant tweeting and even a podcast with Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles. His latest book was titled One Vote Away, which you may recall from the Amy Coney Barret hearings where he worked the phrase into every sentence that didn’t involve talking about the cases he had litigated.
Thus Cruz 3.0 is in the incubation stage, no doubt hoping 2024 will bring about his adoring public to finally recognize Rafael Edward Cruz for the master political artist he always has been in his own mind.
Good luck with that, artist formerly known as TrusTed. You are going to need it.
Presented Without Further Comment
— 1 NEWS (@1NewsNZ) November 23, 2020
The Ruins of PompeoDo, wut now?
It’s a trip that seemed almost calculated to offend — and to burnish Pompeo’s conservative credentials for a possible 2024 presidential campaign. Never one for niceties of etiquette or protocol, Pompeo’s last big tour as America’s 70th secretary of state offered provocations of those who have questioned Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy and Pompeo’s role as its No. 1 promoter.
Like President Trump, Pompeo refuses to publicly acknowledge Joe Biden’s victory in the Nov. 3 election. Nonetheless, the seven-nation journey, one of the longest he’s taken as secretary, offered evidence that Pompeo is already looking past the Trump era, chockablock as the trip was with pronouncements likely to make Biden’s life difficult and setting out a platform for his own political future.
“He’s spending his last two months in office trolling the world,” said Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “It’s an odd role for the nation’s top diplomat to be playing at a rather sensitive time.” The trip started in Paris, where Pompeo’s first event — before seeing government officials — was a private meeting with reporters from right-wing French media, including Valeurs Actuelles. It’s a magazine that was roundly condemned as racist — and was put under preliminary investigation by a prosecutor — after printing an image that depicted a Black French lawmaker as a slave in a piece of fiction.
In Turkey, Pompeo proposed that government ministers come to him in Istanbul — they refused — where he met with the head of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Turkish officials called Pompeo’s statement on religious freedom in the country “extremely inappropriate,” while senior State Department officials blamed a scheduling conflict for his failure to travel to Ankara, the capital. In Georgia, Pompeo waded into that country’s election dispute, lending legitimacy to a government that has cracked down on protesters demanding a new vote.
Pompeo hit peak anti-diplomacy by visiting a winery in the Israel-occupied West Bank that once named a red blend after him — with a label that says #madeinlegality — for his pro-settlement stance. Under any previous administration, Republican or Democrat, this would have been forbidden, not least because Palestinian families still claim the land on which the winery was built.
“He visited settlements, drank from the poisoned chalice, sanctioned dispossession,” the left leaning Haaretz newspaper said in an editorial on Pompeo’s last day in Israel. “These are the last days of Pompeo. How good it is that this is the case.” Through it all, the question was – why? What was so important that it merited a trip just as France, Israel and other nations undertake new lockdowns in a desperate effort to get the coronavirus under control before Christmas?
The tour was planned well before the U.S. election, and secretaries of state routinely travel in the lame-duck period between election and inauguration. Before the trip, senior State Department officials said it had many goals: honoring the victims of terrorism in France, promoting religious freedom and discussing the diplomatic agreements between Israel, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
A senior department official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity on Sunday, rejected the idea the trip was a victory lap or aimed at furthering Pompeo’s ambitions.
“Future ambitions” as to what? Pompeo is so politically toxic that he had to be strong-armed out of running for senate in Kansas out of fear he would tank a vital seat in Republican’s efforts to hold their slim majority. Pompeo has all the charisma of a dried-out sponge and half the charm. He has no political talent to speak of that was not damaged by his unflapping loyalty to President Trump. Trumpism is going to survive the outgoing president in some form or fashion, but the same cannot be said about all the practitioners of MAGA. It is hard to see any future for Pompeo outside of the integrated MAGA celebrity circuit that is rapidly forming to champion and celebrate — not to mention make a business model — of the lost cause of Trump.
I hope Pompeo brought some of that wine home with him; it will surely be a rarity in coming years.