Why is Neera Tanden, Joe Biden’s nominee to head up the Office of Management and Budgets, stumbling where his other cabinet picks have sailed through confirmation? The senators who say they won’t vote for her see her as an obstruction to Biden’s efforts to govern in a bipartisan manner.
‘Neera Tanden has neither the experience nor the temperament to lead this critical agency,’ Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said yesterday. ‘Her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend.’
Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator for West Virginia, agrees: ‘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.’
Sens. Portman, Romney and Toomey will also vote against Tanden. But if the wisest voices in media are to be believed, their decisions have nothing to do with her conduct and everything to do with her ovaries.
Just listen to MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow: ‘Tanden’s nomination to lead OMB is hanging by a thread tonight because of the absolutely outrageous and overt double standard to which she is being subjected by even…at least one Democratic senator who was happy to excuse much worse behavior than hers for a male nominee in a previous administration, but apparently has discovered some new standard that will keep her from getting his vote.’
‘I feel like there’s a little bit of sexism going on here,’ Bill Kristol told the Washington Post. ‘It just seems like these tweets sound harsher to these old guys because they’re coming from a woman.’
Cockburn is willing to momentarily overlook how this same set of senators has already confirmed two women to Biden’s cabinet, Avril Haines and Janet Yellen. Let’s instead entertain the idea that Tanden is being treated differently on the basis of sex, which would be scandalous if true.
Tanden was a prolific social-media poster in the Trump era. On Twitter she referred to Mitch McConnell as ‘Voldemort’, Tom Cotton as a ‘fraud’. She said ‘vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz’ and claimed that ‘Russia did a lot more to help Bernie than the DNC’s random internal emails did to help Hillary’.
These are, as some Democrats like to say, ‘just tweets’. But let’s also recall the occasion that Tanden, in her role as president and CEO of the Center of American Progress, outed an employee who was allegedly the victim of sexual harassment by mentioning her name twice during an all-staff meeting. Now imagine if the male CEO of a think tank had done the same thing. Would such a man even be considered for a role in the Biden cabinet? Cockburn thinks not.
Tanden was also feted as one of the more progressive Biden cabinet picks. It’s much easier to think of her as such if you ignore her the vitriol she reserved for anyone to her left and her union-busting efforts during the shuttering of CAP publication ThinkProgress in 2019. Would Joe Biden, the self-described ‘most pro-union president ever’, have appointed a man with such disdain for the working man? It seems unlikely.
The directorship of OMB would be the zenith of the 50-year-old Tanden’s career: since graduating from Yale Law she has worked for Hillary Clinton’s losing campaigns in 2000, 2008 and 2016. Her nomination by Biden is transparently a nod to the center-left claptivist Clinton-Warren-Harris lipstick-feminist wing of the Democratic party.
Kristol and Maddow are absolutely right. Neera Tanden is being treated differently because she’s a woman. There’s no way she’d be nominated if she were a man.