The supporting cast

I wrote on the old blog about the hippest nun ever, who taught my fifth grade class. I had a mad crush on her. She was a great teacher.

She used to find things to show us that weren't in any of the books we had. One exercise she had us go through was to learn the names of the members of George Washington's Cabinet, and their counterparts in the then-current Cabinet, which was under Kennedy. There were only four people in Washington's Cabinet, and so it was a manageable assignment.

I was thinking about that as I perused a full page in yesterday's Times showing Biden's Cabinet and senior advisor nominees. The cast of characters has grown way beyond what a fifth grader should have to commit to memory. But just for fun, I tried to reconstruct Sister Michael Charles's table, throw in the other members of Kennedy's Cabinet, and then get as far as their counterparts in Biden's. The Cabinet has actually grown quite a bit since JFK's time, but let's stop there.




Biden Nominee

Attorney General

Edmund Randolph

Robert F. Kennedy

Merrick B. Garland


Thomas Jefferson

Dean Rusk

Anthony J. Blinken


Alexander Hamilton

C. Douglas Dillon

Janet L. Yellen

War (Defense)

Henry Knox

Robert S. McNamara

Lloyd J. Austin III



Stewart L. Udall

Deb Haaland



Orville L. Freeman

Tom Vilsack



Arthur J. Goldberg

Martin J. Walsh



Luther H. Hodges

Gina M. Raimondo

Health, Education & Welfare


Abraham A. Ribicoff

Xavier Becerra (Health & Human Services), Miguel A. Cardona (Education)

We were all in love with the President back then. It was 1962. Here it is nearly 60 years down the road, and we're installing our 11th commander-in-chief after Kennedy. When you're in fifth grade, there's only a President or two to remember. But when you're reeling in the years, you can run down the roster with ease: Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, the other Bush, Obama, Trump, Biden.

I'm long past loving politicians, but here's hoping that the new crew gets us up off the mat and back in the game. Kennedy's group eventually took us to the moon, and home again to earth in one piece. Let's hope the new folks can at least get us to where we can sit down in a restaurant again.