Manchin Opposes Tanden for OMB
The Senate's last conservative Democrat is taking President Biden's call for unity seriously.
POLITICO (“Manchin to oppose Tanden for OMB, imperiling major Biden nomination“):
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will oppose Neera Tanden’s nomination to lead the White House budget office, casting serious doubt on her ability to get confirmed and making her President Joe Biden’s first pick who could fall short in the Senate.
Manchin’s opposition presents a major problem for Tanden, given that Democrats only hold a 50-seat majority in the Senate. Without Manchin’s vote, Tanden likely would need at least one Senate Republican to back her in order to win approval to lead Biden’s Office of Management and Budget.
In a statement, Manchin said that he had reviewed Tanden’s previous tweets criticizing his colleagues, including Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
“I believe her overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Office of Management and Budget,” Manchin said. “For this reason, I cannot support her nomination. As I have said before, we must take meaningful steps to end the political division and dysfunction that pervades our politics.”
Even in a 50-50 Senate, it’s not inconceivable that Tanden will be confirmed and President Biden could theoretically ram her through with a recess appointment. But Manchin is right here and, frankly, Tanden should never have been nominated.
Tanden is superbly qualified by talent and experience for the job. But years as a professional Twitter troll make her unsuited for it.
Jim Newell summed it up nicely in a Slate piece this past December.
[Tanden] has spent the past four years as a leading participant on #Resistance Twitter, endlessly ready to refight the 2016 primary and general elections alike. She has held little back in describing how she feels about Republican members of Congress “enabling” the president. She has treated some of the most far-out Russiagate theories, such as Russia perhaps changing votes in its interference with the 2016 election, with credulity, and she was holding out hope that the “pee tape” was out there well into 2019. (In her partial defense, you might be extra suspicious too if a Russian “spear phishing” operation had exposed you, personally, to national embarrassment.) She feuded with Sen. Bernie Sanders, and he with her, for years, creating a toxic spiral in her relationship with very-online Sanders supporters. The left has also criticized her, and the think tank she leads, for its often unseemly donors.
Though some on the left, including people who worked for Sanders, took Biden’s selection of their antagonist as an insult, they’re not the reason why Tanden could face a difficult confirmation. Within a day of Tanden’s announcement, left luminaries like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and California Rep. Barbara Lee came out in support of the nomination, as did progressive Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, whom Sanders once cited in a letter to Tanden as “another friend and colleague of mine” that CAP’s news operation had “attacked,” described her as “brilliant and laser-focused on making our country a fairer place for all.”
Tanden, instead, faces a difficult confirmation because Republicans senators, after spending nearly four years having Not Seen the Tweet, quickly advanced-searched Tanden’s feed for any and all toxicity and came up with just enough to make her a central enemy in the looming confirmation battles.
Tanden loved the nickname “Moscow Mitch” when it was applied to the Senate majority leader in 2019, a “Voldemort” whom she also accused of “fiddling, while the markets burn.” She’s described Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a key swing vote on confirmations, as “the worst” and, in a statement following Brett Kavanaugh’s 2018 Supreme Court confirmation, labeled Collins “the chief advocate for Judge Kavanaugh, offering a pathetically bad faith argument as cover for President Trump’s vicious attacks on survivors of sexual assault.” Much else of what she’s tweeted about Republican senators has been lost in a recent deletion of about 1,000 tweets.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn called Tanden’s selection “radioactive” and chastised her for her reckless use of social media. “We’re prepared to try to work with the vice president once the vote is certified,” Cornyn said, “but [she] certainly strikes me as maybe [Biden’s] worst nominee so far.” South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who’s in line to be chairman of the Budget Committee should Republicans hold the Senate, at first chuckled when reporters asked him on Monday how he felt about her selection, noting that she’s said a lot about him in the past, but “I’ve got a thick skin.” By the time of his Fox News hit later that night, though, Graham was calling her a “nut job” and implying that she wouldn’t be confirmed if Republicans held the Senate. Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton described her as a “partisan hack.” Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who’s poised to chair the other committee that would hold a confirmation hearing on Tanden’s nomination, declined to commit to holding such a hearing and said that he hoped Biden would decide against formally nominating her.
“The concern I have is both judgment, based on the tweets that I’ve been shown, just in the last 24 hours … and it’s the partisan nature,” Portman told the Washington Post. “Of all the jobs, that’s one where I think you would need to be careful not to have someone who’s overtly partisan.”
Yes, as Newell notes, it’s a bit rich for Senate Republicans to have the vapors over some mean tweets give their support of Trump. But Manchin is nonetheless right: if the objective is to get back to something like normal political order, Tanden doesn’t belong in such a public-facing role.
Not only would she be unable to work with Republicans—including the Republican Leader—but she has alienated Sanders and others in her own party. And it’s not as if she was a 20-something campaign staffer. She’s a 50-year-old head of a major think tank.
And, frankly, I’d have a lot more respect for her position if she wasn’t pretending that she’s suddenly sorry for her youthful indiscretion after thousands of tweets in that capacity. Or selectively deleted hundreds of tweets as though there’s no record of them. If you’re going to be an Internet troll, at least own up to it.