Really feeling good about Tony Blinken

I haven’t really paid all that much attention to the names Joe Biden has put forward for his administration, beyond just a glance as they come out to make sure they’re more or less in keeping with my expectations.

The big thing for me was to elect Joe — to make sure he got the nomination, and won the election. Beyond that, I completely trusted him to appoint good people, people of good character. People with qualifications. People who understood what the country is about, and what would be expected of them in their jobs. People who would not delight the left wing of the Democratic Party, or give the other party anything of substance to whine about.

People who would restore the country.

So I’ve just been going, “Uh-huh” and “Sounds good” as the announcements have come.

Antony Blinken

Antony Blinken

But today, I listened to “The Daily” while walking, and it was a fairly in-depth discussion about Antony Blinken — his background, his understanding of America’s role in the world and what of it needs to be restored, his history with Biden, the ways in which he both agrees and disagrees with the boss. All of it fit perfectly with what Biden will need in a secretary of State. The new president will be pretty tied up with covid and other domestic concerns at first, but the rest of the world can’t wait. They need to know America is back, and willing to join back in with constructive efforts to build a better world. And while the president is busy at home, they need someone who can speak for him and be known to speak for him.

And Blinken seems to fit the need perfectly.

I haven’t felt this good about anyone nominated for a position in government in a long, long time.

I would have been happy and satisfied with it not being Pompeo, and not being Susan Rice.

But Blinken sounds way better than that.

My expectations for the coming administration were high, but having listened to that, they are now just a bit higher. And that’s saying something, really, as much as I like Joe…

38 thoughts on “Really feeling good about Tony Blinken

  1. Barry

    I’ve been watching a little bit of the Michigan hearing with Rudy Giuliani. It’s like a clown show on steroids.

    The witnesses are a collection of conspiracy theorists with wild accusations, many of them just obviously don’t know what the Michigan voting law even is or was on Election Day.

    It’s a sad group. It’s clear even the Republicans that called these people to testify are having second and third thoughts

    But the most sad part is watching social media and how many people are watching this and believe these crazy, goofy, accusations.

    One lady just claimed that the poll books are off by over 30,000 votes (they aren’t. they’ve been double checked and triple checked at this point)

    Then the lady claimed that she saw dead people voting.

    that’s got to be One heck of a magician’s trick

  2. Phillip

    It’s going to be like old times, Brad. We’ve been in lockstep for four years agreeing about the lunacy of Trump, but now we can get back to our good old pre-Trump disagreements about America’s role in the world, with terms like “neocon” and “isolationist” batted back and forth.

    Seriously, though, I am cautiously optimistic about Blinken. I have always thought there had to be a middle ground between the idea that American engagement in the world means troops and intervention and drone bombs everywhere vs. turning our back on the world and pulling out of meaningful and constructive alliances and treaties, especially for example the Paris climate accord, or the WHO.

    And Peter Beinart in the NYT beautifully argued yesterday, I thought, for this middle way.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      I hope the Biden administration’s foreign policy can keep the momentum for peace and normalization of relations between Israel and the wider Arab world moving in the direction it has been going in the last year. I’d like to see the US be pretty much completely out of Afghanistan, as well.

      In news that is semi-related to foreign policy, I read the US Navy is returning to the old tradition of naming submarines after sea creatures. For decades, submarines have been named after cities and states. Back in the 1940’s there were submarines named things like: Thresher, Sealion, Spadefish, Bonefish, Flaher, and the lengendary Tang.

      Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite announced Nov. 17 that two future Virginia-class attack submarines will be named USS Tang and USS Wahoo.

      It is nice to see the Navy tying things back to it’s storied legacy. One of the cool traditions the submarine community has relates to the USS Tang. Here’s the story:

      The O’Kane cribbage board is handed down to each oldest fast-attack submarine in the Pacific Fleet. Olympia is preparing for inactivation and will no longer be the oldest fast-attack submarine in the Pacific Theater — that title now belongs to Chicago.

      “Having O’Kane’s personal cribbage board onboard USS Olympia, especially with what its history means to the submarine force, truly was an honor,” said Cmdr. Benjamin J. Selph, commanding officer, USS Olympia.

      The legend of the cribbage board began during a patrol in the Yellow Sea by USS Wahoo (SS 283) in April of 1943. Lt. Richard “Dick” O’Kane, Wahoo’s executive officer, was playing a game of cribbage with the commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Dudley Morton, to pass the time before a difficult mission.

      Morton dealt O’Kane a perfect cribbage hand of 29 — the odds of which are 1 in 216,580. The crew would take this extremely rare hand as an omen of good luck. The following day, Wahoo sunk two Japanese freighters.

      Two days later, Morton and O’Kane played another game of cribbage in the wardroom. This time Morton dealt O’Kane a hand of 28 — these odds being 1 in 15,625. Morton was furious, vowing to never play O’Kane again, according to O’Kane’s book, “Wahoo: The Patrols of America’s Famous WWII Submarine.” The hand proved to be another stroke of good luck as later another enemy freighter was spotted and promptly sunk. Wahoo ended up being one of the most successful submarines during World War II.

      O’Kane’s luck with the board would continue as he took it with him to become the commanding officer of USS Tang (SS 306). Tang would go on to set the record of most ships sunk on a patrol. O’Kane received the Medal of Honor for his actions while commanding Tang.

      On Oct. 25, 1944, Tang was sunk by its own torpedo. Only nine Sailors survived, O’Kane being one of them. The survivors were picked up by a Japanese frigate and taken as prisoners of war. The original board went down with the submarine.

      The crew of the second Tang (SS 563) would present Admiral O’Kane with a replacement board upon his retirement in 1957.

      When O’Kane passed away Feb. 16, 1994, his wife Ernestine wanted his memory to live on. She had his Medal of Honor, Prisoner of War Medal, and the cards from the perfect hand, signed by the crew of Wahoo, to be given to the Bowfin Submarine Museum.

      His cribbage board, however, would be given to USS Kamehameha (SSBN 642) because it was the oldest submarine in the fleet. From there it would be passed on to USS Parche (SSN 683), USS Los Angeles (SSN 688), USS Bremerton (SSN 698), USS Olympia (SSN 717) and now USS Chicago (SSN 721).

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I like the story. I assume that the steward would bring them some toasted cheese while they played cribbage.

        I have a confession to make: I’m a Navy brat, but I have no idea how to play cribbage. I’ve always felt kind of bad about that.

        Oh, and if you want to bring up stuff that, in keeping with the stopped-clock principle of being right twice a day, the Trump administration did RIGHT, here’s a piece of good news from today:

        Unfortunately, on that same page on my iPad there was the headline about this:

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes, Phillip, it WILL be like old times. And that’s wonderful.

      But as we head back into these good times, let me try again to start off on the right foot…

      I am a “middle way” guy in just about everything, including this.

      Although I’d call it being more of a “full engagement” guy. I’m all about the diplomacy and the multilateral agreements and treaties and humanitarian efforts and cultural exchange and foreign aid. I’m for the full toolbox. But I don’t leave the “troops and intervention” out of the box. They’re there, to be deployed in the small number of situations that call for them.

      When the situation calls for diplomacy, let’s use diplomacy to the utmost. That will usually serve. But when you need to send a carrier group somewhere, send it.

      The trouble is, because I don’t discount those situations, too many of my friends think of me as a “troops and intervention and drone bombs” guy. But I’m not. Those are things we seldom need. But sometimes we DO need them.

      Beyond showing the flag in the South China Sea, we really haven’t needed those kinds of actions for awhile. And right now, Job One is re-establishing our international relationships, such as the Paris Accord. Of course, SOME of those important relationships, such as NATO, involve military preparedness.

      What I’d LOVE to see is for Biden, Blinken et al. to find a way to revive TPP, although I fear that we’ve missed our opportunity. I’d much rather see that up and running than having to confront China on the high seas….

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Dang, Phillip, I just clicked on that link you provided (after posting the above), and we’ve already got an argument going. You said “middle way.” This is most assuredly NOT the middle: “Biden Wants America to Lead the World. It Shouldn’t.”

        That’s a full negation of the responsibility that has been ours since 1945. Please listen to podcast, and hear Blinken explain, far better than I ever do, what leaving a leadership vacuum in the world means.

        The “middle way” is the liberal consensus that both Democratic and Republican presidents have accepted since V-J Day. It’s the world of the U.N. and WHO and the IMF and NATO, one in which — with the leadership of America, as the richest and most powerful country in the world, and the most committed to liberal values (right up until 2016, and Joe’s job is to restore it) — we have worked together globally to prevent a World War III.

        That’s the “middle way,” the commonsense way, the sane way…

      2. Randle

        My biggest concern right now is the rise of authoritarianism in the West. In his first press conference with Biden after being chosen Secretary of State, Blinken told the story of how his stepfather, while on a Nazi-enforced death march from one concentration camp to another after the Germans were defeated, managed to escape into the woods and hide there until he was rescued by a soldier from an African-American battalion. The stepdad was a teenager; his dad had been killed by the Gestapo and his mother and sister died in the camps. I imagine his stepfather’s experience would profoundly shape Blinken’s outlook. I have known a few Holocaust survivors, including our neighbors, the Lessens. They were almost unbearably kind, and they had faced the greatest evil. The reminder was always there, on their arms — the tattooed prisoner numbers. Their children were slightly older than I was, and had that same remarkable generosity of spirit and awareness. I grew up in Silver Spring, Md. and, as someone here once said to me, “That’s very Jewish.” Hadn’t actually thought of it that way, but knowing so many people affected by the Holocaust— those who escaped, those who survived the camps and those who lost everything — well, I’ll never forget. But people are forgetting. Having a Secretary of State with such an immediate understanding of the Nazis reassures me. And he speaks fluent French. La piece de resistance, a mon avis.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          “My biggest concern right now is the rise of authoritarianism in the West.”

          You mean North America and Europe? Any particular countries?

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Europe? Yes, indeed. You might take a look at Hungary. Perhaps Poland as well.

            And things are getting worse by the moment. Hungary, in fact, is resonating to Trump’s pathetic attempt to steal this election. Check this out: “Pro-Government Media In Eastern Europe Promote Claims Of Stolen U.S. Election.

            You see, Trump doesn’t have to succeed in his idiocy to do tremendous damage, both at home and abroad. Because even when it is babbling nonsense, what the president of the United States says matters.

            Which is why, before 2016, the American people would never, ever have elected anyone who would say such things…

            1. Randle

              There are also nationalist parties in Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Greece, Cypress, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. It’s not news; they’ve been a political presence for a while. The fact that Bryan is unaware of this just underscores my point that we need someone like Blinken who knows what’s going on and will not turn a blind eye to a serious threat.

              1. Bryan Caskey

                I’m not “unaware”.

                I’m quite aware of nationalist parties that have been a presence in European politics for quite some time. I was simply asking what countries you were most concerned about since you just said the “West”…which is a big area.


                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Well, I’m not as aware as I should be, what with our domestic politics being so distracting the last four years.

                  So I don’t see “unaware” as an insult, and I don’t think Randle intended it as such.

                  I hope to start catching back up, now that we will have sanity in the White House. And at State…

                2. Randle

                  I meant the West, as in Europe, North America, South America and Australia — often lumped together as the West because their language and cultural traditions originated in Europe. These places are all seeing a rise in nationalism/authoritarianism. Because you asked about particular countries, I thought you might be unaware of this trend, as it is everywhere, in varying degrees. Not that that’s unusual, as our news over here is concerned mainly with our own goings-on and many people I talk to don’t keep up with the rest of the world. I would think you would, though, as people on this blog have wide-ranging interests. I think more people should be concerned, at the very least, which is why I like Blinken.
                  One of my daughters lives in Germany, and I am keeping my eye on their nationalist party, even though my daughter shrugs it off. People get complacent and think it won’t happen again. That’s how it happens again.

            2. Barry

              I had the misfortune to tune into Rush Limbaugh today for about 10 minutes. First time that’s happened in months and months.

              Rush was strongly pushing outlandish conspiracy theories about the election, especially in Georgia and of course spinning the facts so that they supported anything he was spouting. He was advocating for legislatures to pick their own electors and ignore the votes in their states. (Of course if Democrats hinted at this in any state, he’d blow up with anger and say they were violating the constitution).

              I don’t think it’s news that Limbaugh is the biggest hypocrite on radio.

              One caller was obviously extremely upset and told Rush the only answer was “revolution.” The caller sounded like he was clearly advocating violence against Biden supporters and said that revolution was the only hope. Rush didn’t try to calm him down or talk him down.

              Very dangerous rhetoric since so many Limbaugh listeners mindlessly believe the crap he says.

  3. bud

    I’d love to see Katie Porter land a cabinet post. She really took it to Steve Mnuchin for his shameful attempt to steal congressionally authorized COVID-19 money. So far Biden’s cabinet is mostly Obama retreads. Could be worse but some pragmatic, liberal voices would be welcome.

    1. Barry

      Katie ripped mnuchin good. He looked So bad up against her. I liked when he sarcastically asked her “are you a lawyer?”

      Uh, yeah, a Harvard Law grad who clerked for a federal appeals court judge, practiced and taught law a long time is a lawyer.

      Mnuchin isn’t the brightest bulb in the closet.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Probably not. (Talking about bulbs in closets.)

        But guys, I gotta tell ya, I take no joy in watching people “own the cons,” which I suppose is the ideological alternative to “owning the libs.”

        I’m for civilization, which the “own the libs” people are doing their best to destroy. I don’t think it helps to imitate them…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Bottom line, I don’t like seeing anybody “rip” into anyone.

          I say that, and maybe there is a situation like that I could enjoy. But I can’t think of one at the moment…

          1. Barry

            “Bottom line, I don’t like seeing anybody “rip” into anyone.”

            I do. In fact, I love it.

            Especially when the narrative of nearly the entire conservative moment, for years, has one where democrats are cowards and the only truth is in standing up proud and loud for what you believe in.

            It’s great to see some like Katie Porter stand up, fight back, and ask hard questions of folks – like she did with Mnuchin who couldn’t answer her questions and had to resort to trying to be a smart mouth- which backfired on him.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              “the narrative of nearly the entire conservative moment, for years, has one where democrats are cowards and the only truth is in standing up proud and loud for what you believe in.”

              Yup. And that’s one of the big things that’s wrong with them. That’s why — or at least a big part of why — they don’t need to be allowed anywhere near government…

        2. but

          Maybe so but Mnuchin deserved it. Granted we desperately need civility but Trump and his minions are such deplorable people their antics must be forcefully called out. 48 more days before all these awful people will be gone. But we’re stuck with the senate deplorables.

          1. Barry

            We don’t need civility for the sake of civility.

            Plus, Rep Porter didn’t walk over and slap him. She didn’t call him ugly. She didn’t make fun of his family or his personal choices. In other words, she’s not Donald Trump who someone like Mnuchin can never summon the nerve to criticize.

            She asked very tough questions related to the issue of COVID relief which is crucially important to millions of American citizens.

            Being civil to someone who is basically mocking you isn’t being civil. It’s been a doormat. Rep Porter is no doormat and no one knows that better than Mnuchin after that hearing.

            Good for her.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              “We don’t need civility for the sake of civility.”

              Actually, that’s precisely what we need, and for that reason. Because without it, we don’t have civilization.

              By the way, I’m just reacting to that sentence, not to anything this Rep. Porter did or said or didn’t do or say. I only watched a few seconds of the clip. What I was reacting to earlier wasn’t her, but the reactions I was seeing to her.

              I was reacting against the “Go get ‘im!” type reaction I was seeing.

              I want these uncivilized people — Trump and his minions — gone, and I never want to hear from them again. I don’t want anyone barking at their heels as they go…

              1. Barry

                I realize that but those days are over Brad. I wish they weren’t but they are gone – LONG GONE. It’s over.

                Just look at this mess tonight in Georgia. They are playing a large video of OANN and NEWSMAX to Trump supporters who believe every word those propaganda channels are saying. Those networks have “journalists” Interviewing people at this event while the on air correspondents are wearing “Trump-Pence” campaign hats.

                Earlier on Saturday, a FOX NEWS (of all networks) on air personality was shouted at and shouted down at this same rally because Fox News dared to call Arizona for Biden on election night- a State that has been certified for Biden with a Republican governor’s signature.

                We are now in a time where one side of the political spectrum is EMBRACING propaganda and falsehoods and accepting it as reality.

                Those same people look at the very idea of civility as an inherent weakness that must be trampled out of existence.

                Rush LImbaugh had callers this week saying on national radio that they had no choice but to choose revolution. Instead of discouraging that talk, Limbaugh said nothing. Millions of people take marching orders from that blowhard.

                Tonight, a newly elected House Republican publicly accused every person who voted for democrats of stealing the election and accused them of illegal activity. You want to deal with someone like that with civility? They’ll run you over in the street like a dog while you try to wave hello.

              2. Randle

                It seems you are equating reactions here to Katie Porter to the reactions of spectators at a cockfight. Not so, although I hesitate to speak for other people. Katie Porter effectively questioned a cabinet member who is trying to handicap the Biden administration’s ability to deal with the damaging effects the mismanaged pandemic is having on ordinary citizens. Mnuchin is acting against the advice of the chairman of the Federal Reserve. He may be acting in violation of the statute itself, which prohibits such a move until 2026. It is a despicable attempt to hobble the incoming administration, one of many the current administration is engaged in.
                Katie Porter was civil ( adequate in courtesy and politeness). She was forceful. She knows finance. She is an incisive questioner, unlike some of her hapless colleagues, whose ineffectiveness in these sorts of hearings is stunning. It’s satisfying to see someone who is engaging in reprehensible acts being held to account by a congressional oversight committee, as that is its purpose and a sign that our democracy is still functioning, if barely. Of course, I’m rooting for her.
                Mnuchin’s behavior was less civil, as he struggled, as usual, to hide his contempt for Congress and anyone who dares question him.
                Right now the full effect of the right-wing misinformation apparatus is on display. I think it’s about time we countered that, don’t you? We don’t have to be rude and aggressive — that’s Trumpism — but we need to change the way we do things. People like Katie Porter, equipped with knowledge and backbone and who communicate clearly what is at stake, show us the way.

              3. Ken

                You are wrong again and again and again — because of your attachment to a cosmetic civility. You fail to appreciate that good manners and bad politics are not mutually exclusive.

                You are the sort that Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail was aimed at: people who generally know what’s right, but compromise time and again in the name of empty “bipartisanship,” fruitless comity and superficial “civility.”

                You can enjoy living in your own personal imaginary Edwardian age if you like. I suppose it lets you feel superior to most of the rest of us. Which just makes you irrelevant to the rest of the world.

              4. bud

                By the way, I’m just reacting to that sentence, not to anything this Rep. Porter did or said or didn’t do or say.

                “this Rep. Porter”. How condescending can you get. Katie Porter is a national treasure. She is very intelligent and asks questions that need asking. Mnuchin got way more respect than he deserved. The Brad false equivalency gets us nowhere.

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    EDITOR’S NOTE: Randle posted this same story this morning, and I was wondering why she hadn’t seen that I had posted it last night. Then I discovered that I had WRITTEN it, but hadn’t clicked on “Post Comment.” So here…

    I hope some of y’all will listen to the podcast.

    If nothing else, listen to some of the story of him and his family, and learn what this country and the rest of the world mean to him. He told some of it when Biden announced his nomination.

    His grandfather came to America to escape pogroms in Europe, His father served in WWII. His parents divorced when he was a kid, and his mother took him to live in Paris. His new stepfather had barely survived the war — he was the only one of 900 kids at his school in Poland to survive the concentration camps for the four years he experienced.

    At the and of the war, he slipped away from the death march on which the prisoners from his camp were taken, and hid in the woods in Bavaria. He heard the rumbling of a tank. When it saw it was American rather than German, he ran out. When an African-American soldier looked out of the tank, the boy fell to his knees and said the only three English words he knew: “God Bless America.”

    It’s people who know, who have internalized, and who share stories like that who can actually help “Make America Great Again”…

    1. Randle

      I did not hear this podcast (I don’t listen to them), but I am glad I am not alone in seeing the importance of Blinken’s history. I took a break from most media during Thanksgiving, so I am just now catching up on your blog. The discussions here are much better than what I read on other sites.
      Go Katie Porter! The Democrats need more people like her to effectively push back on punks such as sneering Steve Mnuchin who, along with the rest of this corrupt administration, are doing everything they can to sabotage Biden. Biden should stay above the fray, but everyone else should be pushing back hard. The 2022 election cycle has already begun; keep fighting.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I just saw the words “Gen Z foreign policy” together, and thought for a moment that maybe those people who dug fallout shelters back in the day weren’t so crazy.

      Not that I’d do that. This clay where I live is just way too hard….

Comments are closed.