(USN) – U.S. President-elect Joe Biden recently introduced the top national security officials he plans to nominate for his administration, pledging to form a team that will make Americans proud.
One by one, his picks for secretaries of state and for homeland security, the director of national intelligence, U.N. ambassador, national security adviser and presidential envoy for climate change – a newly elevated position – delivered brief remarks pledging their service to the country and expressing the honor and humility they felt in a manner that was perhaps most noteworthy for its lack of eventfulness.
Though largely benign, their comments each were clearly aimed at a man none of them mentioned, President Donald Trump, but forcefully derided through thinly veiled assurances, effectively projecting the message that the adults were back in the room.
The tone largely focused on trusting science and verifiable information, and on serving the country, not the president. And they seemed content to focus on the coming four years, not the effects of the Trump administration nor the era that ends when the former reality TV star leaves office in January.
In opening remarks, Biden touted “a team that will keep our country and our people safe and secure, and it’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it – once again sit at the head of the table.”
Antony Blinken, career diplomat and veteran of the Obama and Clinton administrations, recalled his multicultural background – his mother is French and he speaks the language fluently – shortly after Biden affirmed that his former Senate aide “will rebuild morale and trust in the State Department, where his career in government began.” Blinken also recounted his Jewish step-father’s surviving Nazi rule in Europe and ultimately emigrating to America.
Of Avril Haines, the former deputy director of the CIA, Biden said, “I didn’t pick a politician, I picked a professional,” referencing Trump’s latest directors of national intelligence who came from deeply politicized backgrounds and have been largely seen primarily as loyalists to the president. Haines called intelligence officers “just indispensable” and broke from Trump’s stated skepticism of their work in saying, “you will be critical to helping this administration position itself – not only just against threats such as cyberattacks and terrorism … but also those challenges that will define the next administration,” such as climate change pandemics and corruption.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield recalled her upbringing in Louisiana and said she will take to the U.N. her successful attempts in the past of using what she called “gumbo diplomacy” to bring differing opinions together.
“America is back,” she said. “Multiculturalism is back. Diplomacy is back.”
Alejandro Mayorkas, the first Latino tapped to lead DHS, recalled his family’s escaping communism to seek refuge in America – a sentiment Biden stressed in announcing his pick as an alternative to the anti-immigration stance the department has taken under Trump.
Biden’s nominee for national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said Biden had tasked the team with “putting people at the center of our foreign policy” based around the central question, “Will this make life better, easier, safer for families across the country?”
John Kerry, the former secretary of state, said of his new position as presidential envoy for climate change that Biden will “trust in God” and that he will “trust in science.”
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris framed Biden’s comments in closing remarks – after which none of them took questions from the press – in which she touted an administration guided by facts, where officials are expected to speak the truth and beholden to a president “focused on one thing and one thing only: doing what is best for the people of the United States of America.”
“They are leaders who will need to meet the challenges of this moment and those that lie ahead,” Harris said.