On Tuesday, the United States Senate began confirmation hearings for President Biden’s nominee for the Office of Budget and Management, Neera Tanden. The former president of the Center for American Progress think-tank and ex-Hillary Clinton 2016 strategist, Tanden has earned herself a reputation for being Extremely Online and being confrontational on social media, famously once having demanded that a random Bernie Sanders-supporting Ohio State student denounce the “corncob” meme.
Eager to get ahead of what surely would be coming, Tanden apologized for her past comments in her opening statement and tried to move on to more substantive matters.
Biden OMB nominee @NeeraTanden addresses her past social media comments during her opening statement: "I know there have been some concerns about some of my past language on social media, and I regret that language and take responsibility for it." pic.twitter.com/DhNMS2r9sK
— Gary Grumbach (@GaryGrumbach) February 9, 2021
But of course, having little else to go off of, the very first Republican question, which from Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), had to do with her mean tweets — and in asking it, Portman inadvertently roasted his colleagues and imprinted their humiliation into Congressional record for all of time.
“You wrote that Susan Collins is ‘the worst’, that Tom Cotton is a ‘fraud,’ that ‘vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz,’ you’ve called Leader McConnell ‘Moscow Mitch’ and ‘Voldemort,’ I wonder how specifically you plan to mend fences and build relationships with members of Congress who you have attacked through your public statements?”
Sen. Rob Portman lists OMB nominee Neera Tanden's tweets about Republican senators, including:
• Calling Susan Collins “the worst"
• Calling Tom Cotton “a fraud”
• Referencing “Moscow Mitch”
• Saying “vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz”pic.twitter.com/SVS0nLAxDd
— The Recount (@therecount) February 9, 2021
Neera apologized for the statements and gave an appropriately flowery lip service to bipartisanship and the need to establish strong relationships with the people who tried to overturn President Biden’s election on the grounds of a baseless conspiracy theory.
The Republicans weren’t done there, however, continuing to obsess over Democratic electronic messaging and trying to gin up a fake scandal by grilling her on the tweets that she wisely deleted when it was clear she was going to get a cabinet post.
Sen. Ron Johnson: “Did you have any help in deleting those tweets? Did the Office of the Transition advise you on that…?”
Neera Tanden, OMB Director-nominee: “Yeah, nobody advised me at all.” pic.twitter.com/d9dC9bVKHm
— Forbes (@Forbes) February 9, 2021
Subjectively speaking, Tanden was absolutely correct in her assessments of Johnson’s Republican colleagues and shouldn’t have to apologize for being less than cordial to these depraved, remorseless ghouls — not to mention it just goes to show that all the Republican hysteria about “cancel culture” doesn’t seem to matter when their feelings are hurt.
If Ron Johnson wanted to actually ask Neera some uncomfortable questions, he could ask her about how she allegedly named and outed a sexual harrassment and retaliation victim during an all-staff meeting at CAP, or about how she allegedly assaulted a reporter for asking Hillary Clinton a question about the Iraq War, or about the allegations that CAP engaged in union-busting when it abruptly fired all 12 of its ThinkProgress news outlet’s unionized writers and tried to replace them with non-union workers, or how she floated the horrendous idea that Libya should be forced to hand over its oil revenues to the US in order to pay for the disastrous military intervention that led to the complete collapse of the Libyan state into the competing fiefdoms of warlords and jihadist groups.
It says something about America that the genuinely disqualifying things Tanden has done won't be held against her (i.e. recommending Libyan oil be seized to pay off USA debt — which is a war crime). https://t.co/uPjZElJ7tG
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) February 9, 2021
But the Republican mindset is one solely of narcissism and selfish opportunism; none of the real concerns about Neera’s past conduct matter to them, just as none of the deeply alarming track records of Trump’s nominees mattered to them either. The most important issue of the day to them is free speech, which of course is why Tanden must be held accountable for posting mean things about a gormless wretch like Ted Cruz.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.