Vanity Fair: “The 2020 presidential transition was the most bitterly contested and dangerous since the Civil War. But while Donald Trump’s campaign to overthrow Joe Biden’s election was conducted in plain sight, another remarkable drama was playing out behind the scenes. It’s a story that hasn’t been fully reported before.”
Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman writes in the New York Times that she considered pulling out from the event for fear of what would happen.
Said Gorman: “I was scared of failing my people, my poetry. But I was also terrified on a physical level.”
She added: “I did know at the inauguration I was going to become highly visible — which is a very dangerous thing to be in America, especially if you’re Black and outspoken and have no Secret Service.”
Fred Hiatt: “When President John F. Kennedy took office in 1961, he needed Senate approval for 779 of his appointments.”
“Sixty years later, despite efforts at reform and widespread recognition of the irrationality, President Biden needs Senate approval for 1,237 positions — an increase of 59 percent.”
“The Post and the Partnership are tracking 799 of those positions (leaving out some advisory boards and less essential jobs). As of this week, only 112 of them have been filled.”
“President Joe Biden blamed the Trump administration for ongoing problems at the U.S.-Mexico border, citing its failure to cooperate and share critical information during the presidential transition period,” NBC News reports.
Biden said his administration inherited “one god-awful mess at the border” from former President Donald Trump.
He said it’s the result of “the failure to have a real transition — cooperation from the last administration, like every other administration has done.”
“A number of former Trump political appointees have still not received their lump-sum vacation payouts and required forms that are necessary to file for unemployment benefits as they face a tough job market in a Democratic Washington,” Politico reports.
Said one former Commerce appointee: “I’m sitting here going, how do I pay my rent? How do I pay my cellphone bill?”
“President Joe Biden raised $22.1 million to pay for the costs of his transition, far exceeding the $6.5 million his predecessor raised four years ago,” Bloomberg reports.
“Former President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the election led to a delay in releasing $6 million in public money designated for presidential transitions. The GSA waited almost three weeks after the Nov. 3 election to ascertain Biden as the apparent winner, freeing up the money and getting his team access to detailed briefing books on government agencies.”
Politico: “Trump spokesman Judd Deere confirmed Wednesday that the president had written a letter to President-elect Joe Biden and left it for him in the Oval Office’s Resolute Desk. The Trump White House did not divulge the contents of what Trump left for Biden to read.”
“The Pentagon blocked members of President Joe Biden’s incoming administration from gaining access to critical information about current operations, including the troop drawdown in Afghanistan, upcoming special operations missions in Africa and the Covid-19 vaccine distribution program, according to new details provided by transition and defense officials,” Politico reports.
“The effort to obstruct the Biden team, led by senior White House appointees at the Pentagon, is unprecedented in modern presidential transitions and will hobble the new administration on key national security matters as it takes over positions in the Defense Department on Wednesday.”
Politico: “Joe Biden paces as he dictates long portions of his speeches to aides, spinning out thoughts that quickly pile into six, seven or eight paragraphs of copy, only to later be scrapped. On the 2020 campaign trail, he’d keep groups of supporters waiting inside while he’d hole up in a black car with aides, refining lines of his prepared remarks.”
“Longtime aides and advisers expect the inaugural address to traverse territory that Biden has covered over the course of his nearly 50-year public career, while highlighting an agenda that offers up hope to a country ravaged by disease, economic struggles, and violent political insurrection.”
John Avlon: “Not all inaugural addresses are created equal — many are too long and consequently forgettable. Others make the mistake of laying out a specific policy agenda, rather than setting a broad direction toward a new horizon.”
“But an inaugural is preeminently a speech about the new president’s values — about how he sees the world and America’s role in it. At best it offers a unifying vision and the promise of new beginnings.”
“Most are remembered — if at all — for a single phrase that becomes shorthand for the entire speech. And if you listen closely, these lines often share a similar structure. This is the one of the secrets to what makes a great inaugural address.”
John Harris: “More than three decades of experience shows us what does not work in unifying Americans: inspirational words.”
“Here’s what might work instead: substantive deeds at a moment when people urgently need government to work, no matter their political persuasion. This would not require Biden persuading people that it’s time to swear off the cultural warfare that fueled the Trump years. Instead it would involve making the fact that many Americans feel contempt toward one another less relevant.”
“Brayden Harrington, the 13-year-old New Hampshire boy who bonded with President-elect Joe Biden over their shared experience with stuttering, will be part of the prime-time special capping off Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday evening,” CNN reports.
“Harrington, who went viral over the summer after talking about his bond with Biden in a video at the Democratic National Convention, said Biden’s inauguration will send a special message to kids — including those grappling with stuttering.”
“Congressional leaders, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will skip President Trump’s departure ceremony in Maryland tomorrow morning in favor of attending mass with incoming President Joe Biden ahead of his inauguration,” Axios reports.
“Their decision is a clear sign of unity before Biden takes the oath of office.”
First Read: “Nothing he will say in his inaugural address and no executive order he will issue in his first days will be more important than achieving his goal of injecting 100 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days as president.”
“If he gets that right, he will oversee a less pessimistic American public; he’ll get a stronger economy; and he’ll do something that his predecessor was unable to execute in his final days.”
“If Biden doesn’t get it right, however, he’ll fail on the job he was elected to do.”
President-elect Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he will nominate Pennsylvania’s top health official, Rachel Levine, to be his assistant secretary of health, the Washington Post reports.
Levine, a pediatrician, would become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
CBS News has the complete list.
Associated Press: “Thus was born the tradition of departing presidents leaving a handwritten note in the Oval Office for their successors. The missives’ contents start off as confidential, but are often eventually made public by archivists, references in presidential memoirs or via social media after journalists and others filed requests to obtain them.”
“The 32-year tradition is in peril this year. President Donald Trump has refused to accept the results of November’s election and vowed not to attend Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. That makes it doubtful Trump will leave behind any handwritten, friendly advice for Biden.”