Tanden torpedoed: Conservatives sink Neera’s nomination – Times of India

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden faced his first major political setback on Tuesday, having to withdraw his nomination of Indian-American Neera Tanden for director of the White House Office of Management and Budget in the teeth of bipartisan opposition from Senate grandees who took offence at her unvarnished social media posts.
Tanden, who would have been the first Indian-American and first woman of color to lead the powerful budget agency, wrote to Biden taking herself out of consideration, while conceding she saw no path to confirmation and submitting she did not want to distract the White House from other priorities.
Biden accepted her request while indicating she may yet serve in his administration in a role that will not require a Senate confirmation. “I have the utmost respect for her record of accomplishment, her experience and her counsel, and I look forward to having her serve in a role in my administration. She will bring valuable perspective and insight to our work,” he said in a statement.
US Presidents typically face one or two such setbacks in the nomination process – Trump had to withdraw the nomination of Andrew Puzder for labor secretary, and Obama was forced to drop Tom Daschle for health secretary.
But Tanden’s nomination took on a far higher profile not only because of race and gender issues, but also because it was the first time a nominee was felled on account of her social media posts – something her supporters and many observers maintained was frivolous grounds for axing nominations. Her critics insisted her “mean tweets” were themselves frivolous not befitting a cabinet nominee.
Tanden, a long-time Washington player and a Clinton acolyte, maintained a lively Twitter presence, often twitting political opponents in a sharp style typical of the medium. She compared Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell to “Voldemort,” the Harry Potter series villain, and called him “Moscow Mitch,” and once said “vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz,” referring to the Republican Senator from Texas.
Although she deleted thousands of tweets once she was sounded for the job, her political opponents had saved enough ammo to torpedo her nomination in a bitterly divided Senate. The chamber’s 50-50 split meant she needed at all Democrats to support her, with the backing of vice-president Kamala Harris’ casting vote to carry her through. Instead, one conservative Democrat, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, ditched her, dooming her prospects. No Republican came to her rescue.
Many liberal Democrats were expectedly furious over the setback. “No accountability for Trump trying to overthrow the US government but Republicans and Joe Manchin really stood up for civility against Neera Tanden’s tweets. What a disgraceful and nationally embarrassing farce,” wrote former Obama aide Ben Rhodes.
Tweets from other supporters:
“How is it OK that Marjorie Greene wanted to see Speaker Pelosi killed, Ted Cruz incited violence, and they get to keep their seats, but Neera Tanden’s tweets hurt feelings so no confirmation? The hypocrisy is infuriating.”
“The idea that @neeratanden ‘s nomination failed while so many of the jokers and clowns of the Trump admin were confirmed is a testament to a cynical, broken, sexist system.”

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