New Communications Director at White House checks an important identity box

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Out: Kate Bedingfield as White House Communications Director. In: Ben LaBolt, a veteran press adviser to former President Barack Obama. When White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced that Bedingfield would leave the White House at the end of February and be replaced by Ben LaBolt, she made a point of saying this is a history-making move.


According to KJP, it is important for everyone to know that Ben LaBolt is an openly gay man. The Biden administration is all about “representation”, you see, and LaBolt is further proof of that.

Does everyone feel better now? It’s all about feelings and checking boxes when it comes to personnel decisions in the Biden White House. The question should be, can he do the job? The American people don’t care about his sexual preference. They just want to see competent people at work in the White House. The constant virtue-signaling from Team Biden is demeaning to the people they hire, whether they realize it or not. It was as though LaBolt’s sexuality is the most important characteristic of him, not his career experience or accomplishments. The Biden White House just wants to be able to say they are “making history” with the hire.

You may remember that Kate Bedingfield announced her resignation from the job last summer, only to change her mind and stay. She’s been with Joe Biden since 2015 and is a top adviser. She is leaving to become a consultant on his re-election campaign. She is leaving as several other top staff members are doing the same.

An adviser to Mr. Biden since being named his communications director in 2015, Ms. Bedingfield was among the early group of staff members who joined his 2020 presidential campaign.

In a statement, Mr. Biden called Ms. Bedingfield “a loyal and trusted adviser, through thick and thin” and praised her as having been “a critical strategic voice” in his orbit and a “key part of advancing my agenda in the White House.”

She is set to leave along with several other top White House aides at the halfway mark of the president’s term. Ron Klain, Mr. Biden’s first chief of staff, announced his departure this month. Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council, is leaving as well.


LaBolt, by the way, has the experience needed to be an effective communicator for the president. He has experience working for key Democrats. He served as Obama’s press secretary when Obama was in the Senate. He was an assistant press secretary in Obama’s White House. Later, he worked for Rahm Emanuel, an Obama alum and former mayor of Chicago. LaBolt worked on the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. Nonetheless, Biden was sure to mention “making history” with his cabinet appointments.

Mr. Biden called Mr. LaBolt “a first-rate communicator” and said he had a “cutting-edge understanding” of how Americans consume information in the digital age.

“I saw him fight for Justice Jackson, and he put his all into helping us make history confirming our cabinet and subcabinet nominees,” Mr. Biden wrote in the statement. “I’m proud to have him rejoin this team.”

Biden acknowledged Bedingfield’s family in his remarks about her departure.

“She was a critical strategic voice from the very first day of my presidential campaign in 2019 and has been a key part of advancing my agenda in the White House. The country is better off as a result of her hard work and I’m so grateful to her — and to her husband and two young children — for giving so much. Ben has big shoes to fill,” Biden said.

A person’s sexuality should not be a key factor in hiring. Was LaBolt chosen specifically because he is gay? Probably not but we’ll never know. By making a point of saying he’s openly gay, it puts a focus on something that has nothing to do with his job. Who cares? People just want to know if he can do the job and that should be all Biden is concerned about. The problem with Biden’s hires is that so many of them have turned out to be identity box checkers, not the most qualified people for the job.


Look no further than Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. He was hired as a thank-you for endorsing Biden when he dropped out of the Democrat primary in the 2020 election. Then when he was nominated to be transportation secretary, all we heard about was that he is gay and was the first openly gay transportation secretary. He was a failed mayor of a small city in the midwest. He has absolutely no experience to qualify for the job but he’s gay so that’s that or something. It’s crazy. Look what happened. Buttigieg is missing in action in every crisis. He took paternity leave almost as soon as he began his job, he was in Europe on vacation during the train strike talks, and he has had little to show for working to ease the supply chain problems. What does the guy do all day? When airline executives were testifying before Congress last week, Pete was in Louisiana looking at a bridge that received funding from the infrastructure bill. What is the transportation secretary doing to help ease the chaos in airline travel?

I’ll point out that KJP is also a good example of someone who was apparently hired for reasons other than competence in her job. Much has been made over the fact that she’s an immigrant, black, and a lesbian. She’s also utterly incompetent in her job. History-making is all fine and good but only if the level of competence needed is there. That is especially true with people working at the White House.


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