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Opinion Here’s who Biden should pick for a dream Cabinet

(Tom Toles/The Washington Post)

With presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s veep picked, convention concluded and campaign cruising ahead of his opponent’s, he might be tempted to start measuring the White House drapes. So to curb that temptation, the Ranking Committee members are doing it for him for Round 69 — starting with whom he should pick for his Cabinet.

— Drew Goins

Chief of Staff Susan Rice

Rice would obviously be a great secretary of state as well, but the Biden-Harris administration will immediately confront so many problems on so many fronts that it will be vital to have a take-charge chief of staff who can set priorities and make things happen. Rice has the needed close relationship with Biden, and she takes no mess from anyone. Imagine the woe to befall any poor staffer who came to a meeting unprepared.

— Eugene Robinson

Secretary of State Chris Coons

This Republican would rest easier if Sen. Coons was at the helm of the State Department in his friend Joe Biden’s administration. The Delaware Democrat is clear-eyed about China and has a record of advocacy for straight talk about China’s Communist Party that few Democrats can match.

— Hugh Hewitt

Special Envoy Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg should be tapped for a top State role — managing the rebuilding of U.S. international leadership and alliances with a focus on the coronavirus. Buttigieg speaks a gazillion languages. He’d be apt at communicating to his fellow millennials the virtues of restoring U.S. global leadership on 21st-century challenges such as the need for better global health infrastructure. They might justifiably be suspicious that such leadership can accomplish much good in the world, but Buttigieg likes nothing more than persuading people into optimism with that technocratic flair of his.

— Greg Sargent

Treasury Secretary Gina Raimondo

The governor of Rhode Island is arguably the most effective executive in politics today and certainly the one with the most guts. She has taken on hard problems, such as underfunded pensions and rampant coronavirus. She’s a veteran of Wall Street who can talk the language of the financial industry, but she’s not its slave or its tool. She’ll be ready to mop up the damage done during the Shutdown Crash. Then again, she might be the only person ready to master the mess known as the Department of Homeland Security.

— David Von Drehle

… or DHS Secretary Gina Raimondo and Treasury Secretary Andrew Cuomo

Biden needs someone at Treasury who can mediate between the different wings of the Democratic Party while maintaining the confidence of the markets. Who better to do that than the governor from Wall Street himself?

— Henry Olsen

Defense Secretary Michèle Flournoy

One of the leading defense intellectuals of her generation, Flournoy is also a seasoned veteran at the Pentagon, having served under President Barack Obama as undersecretary for policy. She can take the world’s toughest bureaucracy and point it toward a dangerous — but different — future. And 100 years after suffrage, it’s time to have a female defense secretary; I’d love to see a majority-female Cabinet.

— David Von Drehle

Attorney General Sally Yates

A courageous civil servant who has demonstrated her commitment to upholding the law even under personally and politically difficult conditions.

— Catherine Rampell

Commerce Secretary Erica Groshen … or another protector of stats

Don’t let the name of the department fool you; arguably Commerce’s most important function is overseeing most of the federal government’s major independent statistical agencies. This job may be especially hard next year, given attempted sabotage of the census. I’d appoint Groshen (former Bureau of Labor Statistics commissioner and fierce defender of statistical agency independence) — or if not her, perhaps Julia Lane (NYU economist who just wrote a book about democratizing public data), Katherine Wallman (former chief statistician of the United States) or someone else with a demonstrated commitment to safeguarding and upgrading government statistics, which have been under assault for the past three-plus years.

— Catherine Rampell

Labor Secretary Sara Nelson

Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants union, would be an olive branch to organized labor and the progressive wing of the party. The labor movement’s rising star doesn’t hold public office — which was a disadvantage as a long-shot name in the veepstakes, but an advantage in a year when Biden wants avoid taking too many members of Congress away from their seats.

— David Byler

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Health and Human Services Secretary Mitt Romney

After all, as Democrats keep telling us, Obamacare was really his idea — and it would be a meaningful gesture across the aisle in an era when such things are badly needed.

— Megan McArdle

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Cory Booker

His campaign stump speech would always begin with the story of how his life was changed by strangers who fought against housing discrimination so that his parents could buy their dream house and give him a future. And who has better experience than the former mayor of Newark?

— Karen Tumulty

Energy Secretary Mitch Landrieu

A Louisiana politician who understands both the offshore oil and gas industry and the environmental risks it poses, Landrieu would be a Democratic voice from the Gulf Coast in an administration that probably won’t have many others. His stand on Confederate monuments in New Orleans was bold and deserves recognition, too.

— Charles Lane

Veterans Affairs Secretary Michelle Howard

The highest-ranking woman and African American in U.S. Navy history, Adm. Howard retired in 2017 with four stars and experience both in Washington, as the Navy’s second-in-command at the Pentagon, and abroad, as commander of U.S. naval forces in Europe and Africa. She might not want this notoriously thankless job, but America’s veterans would be lucky to have her.

— David Von Drehle

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Jay Inslee

He ran his campaign on a single issue. That issue is now the single most important, and conveniently for the country, there’s an expert on what to do about it ready to serve. Inslee put climate change front and center in the primary. He could make sure it stays there in the presidency.

— Molly Roberts

Director of National Intelligence Adam Schiff

The California congressman, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee and served as a House impeachment manager, would be a fine pick for DNI. Among the many tasks the next chief will face is repairing trust between Congress and the intelligence community. And of course, no one is more familiar with the Trump era’s partisan perversion of intelligence than Schiff is.

— Jennifer Rubin

CIA Director Drew Gilpin Faust

The first female president of Harvard University is the 21st-century equivalent of the so-called Wise Men of the mid-20th century, the sage leaders whose independent stature gave them the freedom to be honest and whose stock in trade was good judgment. She would bring a much-needed gravitas to the battered intelligence community.

— David Von Drehle

Bonus Yang!

I want Andrew Yang to have some job that puts him at the forefront of the administration’s thinking on technology, the economy and the future. He has a creative, counterintuitive mind and a voice that should continue to be heard.

— Karen Tumulty

Previous round: Round 68 | Biden is about to choose his VP. This is who it will be.

Agree with our picks? Disagree? Share yours in the comments. We’ll see you for the next round. Until then, we’ll be taking applications for transportation secretary, though we hear Biden’s got his eye on a certain Northeast Regional traincar for the job.

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