Joe Biden’s pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, was briefly popular with everyone because, hey, woman power. That lasted about 10 seconds, and then her social media accounts came under scrutiny — and suddenly, her membership in the distaff gender was forgotten.
Tanden, a former aide to Hillary Clinton and Obama-era Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, is coming in from the cold after spending four years as a CNN analyst and with the left-wing think-tank Center for American Progress, which she helped found and led as its president. During her time in the woods, she also developed a reputation as a problematic Twitter user, making her an interesting choice for a party that’s been braying about President Donald Trump’s Twitter account for years.
But she’s deleted a lot of those tweets — so everything’s good now, right?
According to the New York Post, Tanden deleted over 1,000 tweets between Nov. 1 and now. A number of those tweets include insults thrown at Republican senators; if Biden does assume the presidency and the GOP still controls the upper chamber after the Georgia runoffs in January, this makes her nomination a difficult sell.
Tanden currently has 87,500 tweets on her account, according to the Post. While that’s already an impressive number (or depressing, depending on your view), consider that she had 88,639 previously, according to The Daily Beast.
Unsurprisingly, she’s particularly irked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom she’s called “Moscow Mitch” in a tweet. McConnell has taken umbrage at Democratic smears, derived from wild claims on the left that he’s a “Russian asset,” calling it “modern-day McCarthyism.”
In another Twitter post shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Tanden wrote that that “I’m glad McConnell is fiddling, while the markets burn,” the New York Post reported.
But maybe Democrats can get a few moderate Republicans to vote for Tanden? That might be more unlikely than you think, given that she doesn’t like them, either.
In one of her deleted tweets, according to the Post, Tanden called Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins — probably the most likely Republican the Democrats could sway into voting for Tanden — “the worst.”
According to Politico, Tanden also said Collins was “a fake defender of Roe v. Wade” in a statement issued during the 2018 confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh. She also accused Collins of “flat out deception” when it came to her description of Kavanaugh’s birth control policies.
And in another tweet, she targeted Collins and other senators who were up for re-election in 2020: “Can people on here please focus their ire on McConnell and the GOP senators who are Up This Cycle who enable him: Cory Gardner, Collins, [Iowa Sen. Joni] Ernst, [Texas Sen. John] Cornyn, [Georgia Sen. David] Perdue, [North Carolina Sen. Thom] Tillis And many more.”
Apparently, Tanden’s Twitter audience didn’t focus their ire enough, because Gardner was the only one of those senators that lost. Perdue is in a runoff, however, so you all have a chance to focus your ire again, Twitter. Don’t let Neera Tanden down!
“It’s pretty crazy to me to think that she can go back and … eliminate all the tweets that she’s sent out over the last, whatever, months, years. And I think it’s really a misstep by the administration,” Cornyn told reporters, according to the Post.
“I really am a little surprised, particularly on the OMB nominee that there hadn’t been at least some consultation. I mean some of these problems can be avoided. And people, you know, saved from the embarrassment.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who would run the Senate Budget Committee if the GOP keeps the Senate — and thus preside over her confirmation hearings — originally expressed skepticism of Tanden’s ability to get confirmed.
“She had a lot to say. It will be a long hearing. Uphill,” he said, according to Politico.
During a Monday interview on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program, Graham had amended his position slightly.
“If you want to make sure this nut job, Tanden, doesn’t become the director of the budget, in charge of the Office of Management and Budget, then make sure we win in Georgia,” Graham said.
And it’s not just attacks on the senators responsible for her confirmation that got deleted from her Twitter account. Tanden is apparently a strong believer in the totally unsubstantiated Steele dossier, with a Twitter post in 2018 asking 2018, “hasn’t the dossier mostly been proven to be true?”
In a Jan. 7, 2017, tweet that was still online as of Wednesday morning, Tanden also promoted a conspiracy theory that then-President-elect Trump had been able to flip votes with the aid of the Kremlin, saying that “he knows people have intuitive sense Russians did enough damage to affect more than 70k votes in 3 states.”
And then there was this tweet from 2017 in which she decided to repudiate the Michelle Obama Doctrine of “when they go low, we go high”:
And Tanden is more than willing to go lower than we’ve even explored when it comes to conservative media titan Rupert Murdoch. When his home was burning down in the 2017 California wildfires, Tanden retweeted the information, according to The Daily Caller, adding,”There’s a God. And she’s unhappy.”
The Democratic establishment is sticking up for her, at least at the moment.
Senate Minority Chuck Schumer of New York tried the double-standard route:
“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding,” he said from the Senate floor, according to Politico. “If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump, who has made a hobby out of denigrating Republicans on Twitter.”
Of course, that would mean Schumer — who’s never been one to shrug his shoulders at the president’s Twitter habits — would also be guilty of hypocrisy for supporting her. Does he want to go down this route?
Hawaii Democrat Sen. Mazie Hirono, always willing to gift us with a daft, reality-defying quote when one is required, seemed to think this should be a breeze.
“If we don’t take back the Senate that might be a challenge,” she admitted, according to Politico, but added that “I don’t know how many Republicans are really going to go after someone that has the kind of background and experience she has to deal with all the policy implementation that OMB does.”
While the establishment is happy with the pick, the left fringes of the Democratics Party is not be particularly thrilled with Tanden, either. Her close association with Hillary Clinton raised some eyebrows among allies of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Everything toxic about the corporate Democratic Party is embodied in Neera Tanden. https://t.co/kWHcUK2VZ5
— BJG 👑 (@briebriejoy) November 30, 2020
“Everything toxic about the corporate Democratic Party is embodied in Neera Tanden,” said Brianna Joy Gray, former press secretary for Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, according to USA Today.
Sanders himself has criticized Tanden, saying in a 2019 letter to the Center for American Progress board that “Neera Tanden repeatedly calls for unity while simultaneously maligning my staff and supporters and belittling progressive ideas.”
While other progressive targets of Tanden’s ire have lined up behind her — in particular, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, according to Politico — Sanders has notably yet to issue any kind of statement about whether he’d support the pick.
There are other issues Democrats might have with Tanden, including the fact she allegedly punched a liberal journalist who questioned Hillary Clinton about her stance on the Iraq War during an interview and a BuzzFeed News report from 2018 that detailed how the Center for American Progress under Tanden grossly mishandled sexual harassment problems.
However, it’s Tanden’s Twitter account that’s likely to raise the most questions. Say what you will about Donald Trump’s social media use — and rest assured, the Democrats have plenty to say about it — he’s never celebrated over someone’s house burning down.
At least Biden has forgiven her for her solecisms, though. In 2016, she wrote an email to Clinton ally John Podesta saying that “The good thing about a Biden run … Is that he would make Hillary look so much better.”
Alas for Tanden, those who are charged with confirming her probably won’t forget her trolling so easily.
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