Biden picks Rice and McDonough for his team, but not for the roles they're most known for
The next batch of nominations filling out Joe Biden’s desired administration are in and they’re, well, a little odd. Experienced Obama White House hands Susan Rice and Denis McDonough are now on the team; Rice was, of course, the Obama administration’s national security adviser and ambassador to the United Nations. McDonough was initially tapped as deputy national security adviser, later becoming White House chief of staff.
That Biden would choose top members of the Obama team to fill out his own is largely expected, but it’s the positions that are a bit curious. McDonough has been nominated to be secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Rice, a foreign policy expert, will instead act as Biden’s head of the White House Domestic Policy Council.
Neither pick will land the experts in roles related to their actual expertise, in other words. So that’s a bit of a puzzle. The Associated Press cites Biden advisers to suggest that the pick of the high-profile Susan Rice for a top domestic policy post signals an intent to elevate the Domestic Policy Council’s clout inside and outside the administration. (It is also does not require pushing Rice through a frothing Republican Senate stuffed with conspiracy cranks still insistent on something-something Benghazi.) McDonough has no evident experience related to veterans’ affairs.
At first glance, then, these picks appear to be of the management philosophy that direct experience in the thing being managed is of less importance than being an effective manager in general, the premise that guides corporate executives as they slide between heading soft drink companies or automotive ones. So … ehh? We’ll see.
What’s clear is that Biden has a great deal of confidence in Rice and McDonough’s abilities. And he is indeed filling out his White House with Obama veterans, as expected.