Biden’s Commerce Secretary is Pure Clintonism

Gina Raimondo Goes to Washington

Photograph Source: Kenneth C. Zirkel – CC BY 2.0

Last Sunday, Marie Franco stood at the rear of a Rhode Island state prison building, cradling the portrait of her son Jose, who died needlessly while incarcerated due to contracting COVID-19. As we consider the well-manicured, PR-friendly profile of the subject at hand, keep in mind that Franco’s death was caused by this politician’s decisions, all of which were formulated through a lens that constantly queried “Will this help me get closer to a DC job?”

President Joe Biden selected RI Gov. Gina Raimondo as Commerce Secretary on January 7, 2021 and she was approved by Congress, after some theatrical and positively-demented anti-Chinese red-baiting from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Cancun), on March 2. This came after being previously mentioned for several other Cabinet positions in the immediate aftermath of the November election.

Thus closes a certain chapter of my journalism career. I’ve been reporting on Raimondo for several years [1] now and predicted almost four years ago exactly in a CounterPunch column [2] her career was far from over.

Despite its reputation as a kind of mutant idiot cousin of Massachusetts, in fact Rhode Island has been a small neoliberal political alcove-cum-policy incubator for decades. Ira Magaziner, the Clinton confidante responsible for the Hillary-Care boondoggle of the early 1990s who later became the Clinton Foundation’s point man for HIV/AIDS, has an estate in the southern part of the state. The late Mark Weiner, a major Democratic fundraiser who cornered the market on presidential campaign merchandise and made a small fortune, lived in East Greenwich. Four years ago, Hillary Clinton’s VP pick Sen. Tim Kaine was in Newport when he was tapped for the spot on the ticket, perhaps at the posh (and racially-segregated) WASP beach resort Bailey’s that RI Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse belongs to. Last summer, a childhood friend living in the flight path of the state airport texted me and said that a large number of federal aircraft were landing that evening. On the one hand, it might have been troops being called in to potentially curtail the protests in Providence [3] responding to the George Floyd murder. On the other, it very well could have been the national Democratic sausage-making assembly line headed to the shoreline.

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Andrew Stewart is a documentary film maker and reporter who lives outside Providence.  His film, AARON BRIGGS AND THE HMS GASPEE, about the historical role of Brown University in the slave trade, is available for purchase on Amazon Instant Video or on DVD.

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