The Revenge of Neera Tanden’s Tweets

POLITICS & POLICY
Neera Tanden attends a hearing with the Senate Committee on the Budget on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 10, 2021. (Anna Moneymaker/Pool via Reuters)

Jim Geraghty’s out today, so the editors sought out the nearest and most available New York Jets fan they could find. No, not new NRO editor Philip Klein, me. A questionable choice to be sure, but bear with me if you will. On the menu today: confirmation hearings and Fauci’s failures.

A Biden Nomination on Life Support

Neera Tanden’s nomination to serve as the director of the Office of Management and Budget appears to be on life support. The odds are stacked against the Clintonista, boss from hell, and president of the Center for American Progress being confirmed by the Senate. Her history of mean tweets — especially those directed at the very senators whose support she needs — is catching up to her. Joe Manchin, Susan Collins, and Mitt Romney have all announced their opposition to Tanden over the last few days. (One of Tanden’s past tweets had labeled Collins as “the worst.”) To become the first OMB director to defend physical abuse by saying without a trace of self-awareness “I didn’t slug him, I pushed him,” she’ll need to not only hold onto Democrats Bernie Sanders (Tanden’s nemesis) and Kyrsten Sinema (a purple-state senator with a history of bucking the party line) but also pick off one of the two Republicans who have yet to announce how they’ll vote: Lisa Murkowski and Shelley Moore Capito. At first glance, Murkowski would appear to be the easier get — she’s more moderate, with a history of crossing party lines — but she’s also up for reelection in 2022 and has lost GOP primary fights before. She might be reluctant to give Democrats this win. White House press secretary Jen Psaki weighed in on the situation on Twitter:

Neera Tanden=accomplished policy expert, would be 1st Asian American woman to lead OMB, has lived experience having benefitted from a number of federal programs as a kid, looking ahead to the committee votes this week and continuing to work toward her confirmation.

Her defenders swiftly alleged a double standard was at play. From Representative Judy Chu (D., Calif.), head of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, in Politico:

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Her nomination is very significant for us Asian American and Pacific Islanders. I do believe that this double standard has to do with the fact that she would be a pioneer in that position.

So in the end, Neera Tanden really did unite the Democratic Party . . . around identity-driven pseudo arguments that alienate most Americans. Well done, President Biden.

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, Merrick Garland finally appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and was . . . not great. Unlike Tanden, Garland is seen as a shoo-in for his position. Democrats are all but certain to vote “aye” as a block, and a good number of Republicans might join them in making Garland attorney general. Still, no conservative could have been particularly pleased with Garland’s answer to a question from John Kennedy about biological males’ participation in girls’ sports. Garland dodged at first, claiming that “This is a very difficult societal question you’re asking here.” When Kennedy pressed him, Garland first reiterated that he “think[s] every human being should be treated with dignity and respect,” (who doesn’t?) before adding that “the particular question of how Title IX applies in schools . . . is something that I would have to look at when I have the chance to do that. I’ve not had the chance to consider these kinds of issues in my career so far.” Garland is eminently qualified to lead the Justice Department, and Republicans should thank God every day that Biden didn’t tap New York governor Andrew Cuomo for the job, but they should be under no illusions about the actual nominee: He’ll be a rubber stamp for the Biden administration’s ludicrous social agenda.

Finally, there’s Xavier Becerra, Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services — an agency of special importance during a pandemic. Becerra, a nun-hating, abortion-loving radical with no real experience in health-care policy, is Biden’s worst cabinet choice by far. He has shown not only thinly veiled scorn for half the country, but a willingness to use the levers of power to punish his political opponents. The Editors said it best:

Any Biden nominee to run HHS will share the president’s liberal views on abortion and transgender issues, but Becerra’s record guarantees that he will use HHS’s broad rulemaking authority to aggressively wage a culture war and alienate many Americans. There is nothing Becerra can say at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday that can erase that record.

Many of Biden’s other nominees show that the president is more than capable of selecting qualified Cabinet members with bipartisan credibility. Treasury secretary Yellen, Secretary of State Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Austin were each confirmed by overwhelming bipartisan Senate majorities.

It has been befuddling to many of Biden’s friends and foes alike that he chose an unqualified ideologue to run HHS during a pandemic. A majority of the Senate should reject Becerra and give Biden an opportunity to try again.

Fauci’s Doom and Gloom

Moving on to pandemic news, it’s time to state what has become obvious: Dr. Anthony Fauci is a disaster. Americans can and should be grateful to Dr. Fauci for his many years of service and good work rendered over the course of those years. But his continuous doom-and-gloom messaging is a public-health liability at this point. The coronavirus vaccines are here. They’re safe.  They’re more effective than we could have possibly imagined. They not only prevent symptomatic illness, but transmission too. What’s more, the country is distributing the vaccines at an impressive rate; a third of the inoculations administered in the world have happened right here in the United States. And yet, Anthony Fauci is making the rounds on the Sunday shows talking about “approaching a degree of normality” by . . . December? What on earth is Fauci talking about? This disease is not going to be “eradicated.” The objective is to turn the threat it represents into something resembling what the flu does every year, not wipe it off the face of the planet — that’s an impossible task. Americans aren’t going to wait until it’s been accomplished to return to normal life. Many already have! Fauci isn’t just out of touch, he’s understating the value of the vaccines in a way that’s both deceptive and discouraging.

Well, that wasn’t so bad, was it?

ADDENDUM: Check out David Harsanyi for a fuller picture of how Fauci has fallen short of the god-like powers some have attributed to him.

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