Look, Shiny Normal Thing! Joe Biden Picks Incredibly Competent, No-Drama Chief Of Staff
In yet another sign that his administration will be bad for publishers of shocking tell-all memoirs, President-elect Joe Biden has named veteran Democratic consultant and attorney Ron Klain as his chief of staff. Klain, a non-shouty fixture on cable TV news shows, has served in like nine million important, if not terribly glamorous, supporting positions going back to the late '80s, when he was counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee, which at the time was chaired by a dark-haired guy named Joe Biden.
"Ron has been invaluable to me over the many years that we have worked together, including as we rescued the American economy from one of the worst downturns in our history in 2009 and later overcame a daunting public health emergency in 2014," Biden said in a statement. "His deep, varied experience and capacity to work with people all across the political spectrum is precisely what I need in a White House chief of staff as we confront this moment of crisis and bring our country together again."
By all indications, Klain will actually do what White House chiefs of staff normally do: helping the president get his job done by riding herd on the constant flow of information and issues competing for attention in the Oval Office. And while Joe Biden does indeed have a son-in-law, his daughter Ashley's husband, Howard Krein, a plastic surgeon and otolaryngologist, there's not even the least hint Dr. Krein will ever be in the White House except for family photos. Weird!
As the Washington Post puts it, Ron Klain at times "appears to have worked with every Democratic leader of the past three decades." Under Clinton, he served as AG Janet Reno's chief of staff, and helped win the confirmation of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court. He also worked as VP Al Gore's chief of staff, and in the 2000 election, led the Gore campaign's recount effort in Florida. (WaPo helpfully notes Klain was played by Kevin Spacey in the movie Recount, too.)
More recently, Klain was Joe Biden's vice presidential chief of staff, helped Biden oversee the economic recovery program, and later was in charge of managing the Obama administration's response to the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak. We suppose it's inevitable some wingnut media outlet will now scream Klain is a dangerous choice, because he was a czar!!!! And what about all that EBOLA VOMIT the Stupidest People on the Internet were so panicked about?
Factcheck: Nobody's insides fell out because of the EBOLA VOMIT because the virus didn't work like that. And yes, now that we do have a deadly pandemic, the Gateway Pundit is among the top sources of misinformation and denial about the disease. Another top source of misinfo? Oh, just this guy:
If this doctor, who so recklessly flew into New York from West Africa,has Ebola,then Obama should apologize to the American people & resign!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1414107539.0
Also, because There's Always A Tweet,
Obama just appointed an Ebola Czar with zero experience in the medical area and zero experience in infectious disease control. A TOTAL JOKE!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1413584400.0
Yeah, you need someone with experience in infectious disease, so you can ignore them in favor of a radiologist who's on Fox News.
Wingnuts vomiting wildly notwithstanding, Klain was widely praised for keeping the virus in check in the US, and that's one reason he's been a go-to guy for Democratic policy responses to the current pandemic, not to mention cable interviews about what Trump has been screwing up. Former Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett told the Post,
It's hard to prove a counterfactual, but I believe that Ron Klain is the reason we did not have an Ebola epidemic in the United States. [...] He is well respected by all the people with whom I have worked.
All in all, Klain seems likely to return the White House to a semblance of order, compared to Trump's multiple chiefs of staff, whom he mostly ignored in favor of letting various sycophants come to the Oval Office and win his attention in gladiatorial combat. Unnamed White House officials tell Wonkette they're still trying to get George Papadopoulos's blood out of the carpet.
And unlike Trump's succession of chiefs of staff, which by Inauguration Day may reach double digits, Klain will never be expected to be the "adult in the room," since Biden is a grown-up who's able to president without supervision. He'll actually be expected to perform as an aide, not a child safety gate.
"Ron's value is that Biden trusts him completely and Ron has no fear of telling him exactly what he thinks," said Jay Carney, a former White House press secretary whom Klain hired previously to work for Biden. "He does it respectfully and bluntly, which is what Biden wants and expects."
Damn. Biden isn't even in office yet and we're already not tired of not hearing everything framed in terms of winning.
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