Donald Trump may have no interest in speaking to, meeting with, or even handing over the reins of presidential power to Joe Biden come Jan. 20.
But in a funny way, Biden is listening to his soon-to-be predecessor.
We see Biden’s acknowledgment in many of his appointments to Cabinet-level and senior staff positions.
The big story, lost in the mayhem of election-related news, is that Biden clearly wants a moderate Democratic administration.
He is rebuffing the AOC-Sanders-Pelosi wing of the party that appears hellbent on tearing up a possible political consensus.
All of this could be good. It could be part of Trump’s larger legacy.
I wanted Donald Trump to win this election. But our Constitutional process finds Joe Biden the legitimate next president and we should respect him as such.
Newsmax was tough on President Barack Obama during his time of office; we often criticized him, but praised him at times, such as when he made the courageous decision to kill Osama Bin Laden.
I am not naïve about a Biden administration’s agenda.
Recent calls for destroying the NRA and hints we may have unnecessary and draconian COVID-19 lockdowns show the dangers.
But Biden could have picked a far-left government. And, so far, he hasn’t.
His big picks, like Tony Blinken for secretary of state and former four-star Army Gen. Lloyd Austin for defense, show just how centrist and establishment he wants to be.
Just take a look at some of his other picks.
CIA director: Biden’s most recent pick of William Burns, 64, to succeed Gina Haspel as head of the CIA took many onlookers by surprise.
Burns’ experience is rooted in diplomacy, not intelligence. He served 33 years in the State Department, including two ambassadorial stints: one to Russia and the other to Jordan. He’s been appointed to various State Department positions by both Democrat and Republican presidents.
The Biden transition team said that "he has the experience and skill to marshal efforts across government and around the world to ensure the CIA is positioned to protect the American people."
Burns is said to be strong on national security and terrorism issues, and one former senior CIA official I respect tells me he is an outstanding choice.
Attorney general: Last week the president-elect nominated Merrick Garland to head the Justice Department as attorney general, one of the clearest signs he wants a centrist running the DOJ.
Garland, 68, is chief judge of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He’s best remembered as being Obama’s choice to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. The Senate refused to vote on his confirmation (which, at the time, I thought was a mistake).
After Biden takes office on Jan. 20, Garland will face enormous pressure from leftist Democrats to engage in judicial witch hunts. Garland may be the one person with the gravitas to reject those demands.
Secretary of commerce: Progressives were more than a little disappointed when the president-elect chose Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to head Commerce, given her history in the private sector.
"Raimondo, a former venture capitalist, is the wrong pick—and the American public agrees," said the Revolving Door Project, a liberal group that’s opposed to appointees with a corporate background
"According to November polling, nearly 70% of respondents oppose President-elect Biden appointing Raimondo to any Cabinet position,” the statement continued.
Secretary of agriculture: Biden received immediate backlash from progressive groups when he tapped former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack to head the Agriculture Department.
He's known as “Mr. Monsanto,” and they believe his record is too industry-friendly. They urged Biden to appoint a member of Congress instead.
George Goehl, director of progressive advocacy group People's Action, called the Vilsack pick “a terrible decision” in a statement.
"Rep. Marcia Fudge would have been a historic first at USDA — a secretary on the side of everyday people, not corporate agriculture lobbyists,” he added.
Biden tapped Fudge, an Ohio Democrat, to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Chief of staff: Biden tapped Ronald Klain, 59, as his chief of staff. This is both a safe pick and a natural one for Biden, given that Klain served as chief of staff for both Biden and Al Gore when they held the vice presidency.
However, the choice raised the hackles of progressives because in between stints with the Clinton and Obama administrations, Klain worked as a K-Street lobbyist.
In November a group of more than a dozen liberal House members and more than 50 leftist organizations sent a joint letter to Biden asking him to refrain from appointing people with corporate ties.
A week later Biden named Klain.
Counselor to the president: Biden also thumbed his nose at progressives with his choice of Steve Ricchetti, who was his campaign chair, as presidential counselor.
The perceived problem was his history as a lobbyist, even co-owning a lobbying firm with his brother Jeff.
Their client list included General Motors, the American Hospital Association, AT&T, Eli Lilly, Nextel, Novartis, Pfizer, and Fannie Mae, which was the mortgage giant that used taxpayer funds to buy up subprime mortgages and prompted the financial crisis.
Usually being a lobbyist is considered a big negative, but in these cases I see it as a positive. It shows top Biden officials understand the importance of working with American businesses.
Director of Office of Public Engagement: Biden earned the wrath of climate alarmists when he chose Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat, for this White House advisory position.
After campaigning for more than a year on the promise to move the country away from its dependence on fossil fuels, Biden made a choice with Richmond that was a real head-scratcher.
Richmond received the bulk of his campaign donations during the 2019-2020 campaign cycle from the oil and gas industry — $113,100 to be exact, according to Open Secrets.
Biden’s selections come as Washington, D.C., is mired in hyper-partisan gridlock.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has stepped up her attacks against both President Trump and the Republican Party, including:
- Calls for a “snap impeachment” after last week's Capitol riot.
- A demand that Vice President Mike Pence initiate the process of removing Trump using the 25th Amendment.
- A move to remove the power of the GOP to introduce amendments to legislation, effectively silencing the minority party
With any luck, Biden and his appointees will throw cold water on Democratic demands for impeachment and political revenge.
To be sure, conservatives will criticize some of Biden’s picks as being a part of the Washington swamp.
Criticism is good and in the long run helpful, I believe.
But by assembling an administration with many moderate voices, Biden is showing that four years from now he may not want a repeat of the Democrats’ 2016 and 2020 election fiascos.
In that sense, he really is listening to Donald Trump.
Michael Dorstewitz contributed to this article.
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