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Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The most remarkable part of President-elect Biden’s campaign and early picks for positions of true power is the unremarkable — and predictable — nature of his big moves. 

Why it matters: Biden is obsessed with bringing stability and conventional sanity back to governance. "He is approaching this — in part — like an experienced mechanic intent on repairing something that's been badly broken," said one source familiar with the president-elect's thinking.

The picks — including Tony Blinken for secretary of state, which leaked last night and is to be announced tomorrow — fit with Biden's penchant for sticking to comfort foods when it comes to people, policies and political techniques. 

  • "He knows everybody. But these are the people he really knows, and he's going with 'em," a former Obama-Biden official told Axios.
  • The official said: "Biden wants process. Trump was the anti-process guy. Their idea is that process is their friend."

The big picture: All modern White Houses are oligarchies — authentic power is held by just a few. So pay closest attention to the chosen few who are inserted into the real inner circle.

Blinken was national security adviser to Biden when he was V.P., before becoming President Obama's principal deputy national security adviser, then deputy secretary of state.

Other longtime Biden hands on the new White House team:

  • Senior adviser Mike Donilon has been an adviser and consultant to Biden since 1981.
  • Chief of staff Ron Klain, who first worked for Sen. Joe Biden in the late '80s, was later Biden's chief of staff as vice president, then White House Ebola response coordinator.
  • Cathy Russell, the White House director of presidential personnel, worked on Biden's 1988 presidential campaign and was chief of staff to Dr. Jill Biden in the White House, before becoming U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues at the Department of State during the Obama Administration.
  • Counselor Steve Ricchetti went to work for Biden in the White House in 2012.
  • Jake Sullivan, a longtime Biden and Hillary Clinton adviser, is expected to be named national security adviser.
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Go deeper

Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Hundreds of Biden staffers receive COVID vaccine

Screenshots of an email inviting White House staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, obtained by Alayna Treene/Axios

A week into the job, President Biden's White House medical team has administered the coronavirus vaccine to several hundred staffers — and aims to vaccinate all in-person staff over the next few weeks, officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: The new administration is ramping up steps to protect President Biden and all staff working inside the White House complex. The administration is also requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times.

Jan 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Sullivan speaks with Israel's national security adviser for the first time

Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat U.S. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/Getty Images. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Photo: Chandan Khanna/Getty Images

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke on the phone Saturday with his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben Shabbat, Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: This is the first contact between the Biden White House and Israeli prime minister's office. During the transition, the Biden team refrained from speaking to foreign governments.

Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Women take press lead in Biden era

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Women will overwhelmingly guide coverage of the White House and politics during the Biden administration, propelled by a slew of newly appointed leaders at major TV and radio networks, newspapers and digital outlets.

Why it matters: While female representation in the Washington press corps has steadily grown, what's changed most recently is the number of women in front of and behind cameras and bylines.