Is Neera Tanden, Joe Biden’s pick to become director of the Office of Budget and Management (OMB), the worst nominee in history?
Since the presumably 46th president named her, headlines have blared that she is deleting hateful posts on Twitter, that she once “punched” a reporter, and that she outed a sexual harassment victim at the Center for American Progress, the liberal think tank she runs.
Oh, and that she also once said Hillary Clinton was a much better candidate than Mr. Biden.
Let’s just run through those before we move on, shall we?
Ms. Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress (CAP), has been a prolific tweeter. But more than 1,000 Twitter posts by the outspoken, long-term friend of Hillary have — poof! — disappeared from the social media site since the beginning of November.
“A review of third party archiving services like the Internet Archive and Archive.vn show Tanden’s account began on Nov. 1 with 88,639 tweets, but had 87,588 as of Monday evening,” The Daily Beast reported this week.
Then there was that “punch.”
Ms. Tanden, according to The New York Times, accompanied Mrs. Clinton for what was supposed to be an “easy interview” with Think Progress, the liberal website ran by the Center for American Progress. Faiz Shakir, ThinkProgress’s chief editor, questioned the senator about her votes in favor of the Iraq War.
“Ms. Tanden responded by circling back to Mr. Shakir after the interview and, according to a person in the room, punching him in the chest,” The Times reported.
Then there was an April 2018 story in BuzzFeed on a CAP staff meeting after a female employee claimed she was sexually harassed. But during the meeting, “Tanden named the anonymous victim at the center that story — a revelation that a CAP spokesperson said was unintentional — and what began as a tense meeting became what three staffers in the room described as a textbook example of the organization’s failures to appropriately handle sexual harassment cases,” the liberal website reported.
And then there is a leaked 2015 email from Ms. Tanden to John Podesta, former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, which, Fox News reported, says, “The good thing about a Biden run is that he would make Hillary look so much better.”
Here’s another problem: Members from both parties dislike Ms. Tanden.
For instance, Brianna Joy Gray, former press secretary for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign. “Everything toxic about the corporate Democratic Party is embodied in Neera Tanden.”
And shortly after her nomination, Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, quickly said through a spokesman that Ms. Tanden “stands zero chance of being confirmed.”
“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,” Mr. Cornyn said. “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.”
But all that raises the question: With so much baggage — and Republicans, who are expected to hold onto control of the Senate, openly deriding her — why on earth would Mr. Biden nominate her?
The answer, in a city as simplistic as Washington, D.C., is easy: She’s there to draw all the fire from the GOP and ease the path for other Biden nominees. There can be no other reason since, as Mr. Cornyn said, she stands “zero chance” of making it through the Senate.
So far, the transparent plan is working. Republicans are targeting Ms. Tanden and giving a pass to other nominees such as Xavier Becerra for Health and Human Services.
Currently the attorney general of California, Mr. Becerra is a staunch advocate for abortion and a longtime proponent of Medicare-for-All, the budget-busting plan from Democrat for government-run health care. So far, little opposition has emerged over his nomination.
Ms. Tanden is a sacrificial lamb, there to draw all the heat and then slink away after she’s blown up in the Senate. Republicans shouldn’t waste much time on her and should pay much more attention to the dangerous nominees Mr. Biden is making for far more important positions.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.
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