Still, you have to wonder whether this was really the administration that progressives wanted. Unlike in 2016, when Jill Stein’s share of the vote in many states was larger than Donald Trump’s margin of victory, the Green Party was all but irrelevant this year. Over and over again, they explained that Trump, who will leave office having instigated no new foreign conflicts and all but totally withdrawn us from two old ones and deported vastly fewer people than his predecessor, was some kind of unique threat to world peace and security. Seeing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of New York explain to her online followers that Rahm Emmanuel is not a very nice guy, you have to wonder whether these people knew what they were signing up for.

A Biden White House was always going to look like this. There was never going to be a Secretary Elizabeth Warren at the Treasury or a Secretary Bernie Sanders at the Department of Labor. There was definitely not going to be Dennis Kucinich in charge of the newly established Department of Peace. The police aren’t going anywhere and neither is our health-care system…

But even observers less cynical about American progressivism than I am have to admit that Biden really is just looking after his own here. Ever since the primaries he has won consistently among voters who care about the national debt. He insisted over and over again during the debates that more than a hundred million Americans “love” their private health insurance, as if people everywhere had strong views about the virtues of the Gold Platinum Plus Advantage versus the Platinum Advantage Gold Plus. In a crucial sense, Biden was the more “conservative” of the two major candidates, and that is how he won: overcoming Trump’s enormous advantage among the rural poor and his unprecedented gains with minority voters with the help of white men in the suburbs.