Politics How Twitter killed Neera Tanden's chances -- and why it will happen again
Neera Tanden: Schumer says he is working with Biden 'to find the extra votes' to confirm OMB pick
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday he is working with President Joe Biden to gather the support needed to confirm Neera Tanden as director of the Office of Management and Budget. © Ting Shen-Pool/Getty Image Neera Tanden, nominee for director of the Office and Management and Budget, speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee confirmation hearing on February 9, 2021, in Washington, DC. "I am working with President Biden to find the extra votes so she can be passed," he told reporters during a news conference in New York, mentioning Democratic Sen.
The White House bowed to the inevitable on Tuesday night,.
That a Cabinet nominee didn't make it even to a Senate floor vote isn't anything new.. Given that, it would have been .
What is new -- and what Biden and his inner circle clearly underestimated -- is just how much Tanden's aggressive and attacking style on Twitter would impact (and doom) her nomination.
Neera Tanden’s nomination to head White House budget office in peril as Collins, Romney say they will vote against her
The nomination of Neera Tanden to head the powerful Office of Budget and Management appears increasingly imperiled, with Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney and Utah, both Republicans, announcing on Monday morning that they would vote against the nominee. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a centrist Democrat, had earlier indicated that he, too, would vote against Tanden. At issue is Tanden’s storied legacy of incendiary tweets, which have frequently criticized and mocked Trump, congressional Republicans and progressives like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
The calculation made by the President and his chief of staff Ron Klain, perhaps Tanden's biggest advocate, was that her powerful personal story (raised by a single mom who had come to the United states from India) and the historic nature of her nomination (she would have been the first woman of South Asian heritage to serve as OMB director) would overcome any lingering queasiness from senators about her past tweets.
Well, that plusagainst the senators who would now sit as judge, jury and executioner on her nomination. And her apology -- "I deeply regret and apologize for my language and some of my past language," -- for her tweets.
Susan Collins Deals (Likely) Death Blow to Tanden Nomination
Senate moderates are poised to sacrifice Biden’s OMB pick on the altar of civility — but the White House isn’t relinquishing Tanden just yet.During the Trump era, Joe Manchin repeatedly bucked his party on high-profile votes, but in almost all of these cases, his vote was not decisive. For example, the West Virginia Democrat backed Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court — but only after enough Republican moderates had declared their support for Trump’s nominee to ensure his ascension. Meanwhile, Manchin toed the party line on the Trump Tax Cuts and Obamacare repeal.
It didn't work. See, Tanden's nomination didn't fail because of some policy disagreement with key senators or some sort of scandal in her personal life. It failed because she tweeted lots and lots of attacks at senators. Period.
Video: Neera Tanden releases statement on pulling her nomination (CNN)
"I have carefully reviewed Neera Tanden's public statements and tweets that were personally directed towards my colleagues on both sides of the aisle from Senator Sanders to Senator McConnell and others," said West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, in announcing his opposition to Tanden's nomination. "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."
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins echoed that sentiment in opposing Tanden. "Her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend," Collins said. "In addition, Ms. Tanden's decision to delete more than a thousand tweets in the days before her nomination was announced raises concerns about her commitment to transparency."
Team Biden taps Asian American groups to help save Tanden
As Biden’s choice for budget chief flounders in the Senate, the White House has rallied her allies in the South Asian community to her defense.Those groups are calling and sending letters to Senate offices and advocating for Tanden on social media to try to combat what they are calling “structural racism” and “institutional racism.
Ditto Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney. "Senator Romney has been critical of extreme rhetoric from prior nominees, and this is consistent with that position," a spokeswoman for the senator explained. "He believes it's hard to return to comity and respect with a nominee who has issued a thousand mean tweets."
The irony of senators citing "mean tweets" as disqualifying for a position in a presidential Cabinet following four years in which the actual President used Twitter to bully and insult his political opponents (and world leaders!) should not be lost on anyone here.
But regardless of the ridiculous double standard being used, the failure of Tanden's nomination does raise an intriguing question going forward: Should people angling for high-ranking jobs in presidential administrations simply avoid tweeting at all?
The easy answer, of course, is yes. If there are no tweets to mine for controversial past opinions about people (and issues), there is far less fodder for the people who would like to see you not be confirmed (or even considered).
Neera Tanden nomination to lead Office of Management and Budget remains in limbo
President Joe Biden's nomination of Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget may remain in limbo until at least early next week. © Anna Moneymaker/Pool/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: Neera Tanden, nominee for Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), testifies at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Budget Committee on February 10, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.
At the same time, Twitter is -- certainly among the world of political people and reporters -- ubiquitous. And, for someone like Tanden, her willingness to say controversial things on Twitter -- and especially to attack Republican senators in often personal terms -- helped to make her a prominent opposition figure in the Trump years. (Worth noting: Tanden also served as president of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.)
Tanden's active and aggressive Twitter presence was part and parcel of her high profile. Eliminate Twitter entirely and is Tanden nominated to be OMB director in the first place? Maybe -- but it's less likely, for sure.
This is the catch-22 of Twitter and the ambitious political person. Avoid it in hopes of never giving your critics anything to fire at? Or embrace it and run the risk of watching it destroy your chances a la Tanden?
Given the dependency of the political class on Twitter, it's hard to imagine many future nominees being entirely off the service. Which means Tanden's failed nomination may be the first one to be lain at the feet of Twitter but it won't be the last.
Snarky Tweets Shouldn’t Override Smarts. But They Did for Neera Tanden .
Snarky Tweets Shouldn’t Override Smarts. But They Did for Neera TandenIn the end, it wasn’t any one tweet that disqualified Neera Tanden from joining President Joe Biden’s Cabinet. It was the entire platform that is punishing the seasoned Washington player.