On Nominees, a Neera Miss for Biden
Neera Tanden was everything Democrats said they hated in Trump.
Here’s the thing with demanding civility — you actually have to practice it. The Biden administration just learned that lesson the hard way. After two years of insisting on a kinder, gentler Washington, the president has raised plenty of eyebrows with his abrasive nominees. Neera Tanden was the surliest of the bunch, firing off years of social media insults as head of the radical Center for American Progress. She was everything Democrats said they hated in Trump: a brash, blunt, Twitter attack dog. Because she was one of them, the White House thought she’d be safe. They were wrong.
Twitter never deleted Tanden’s account, but it’s not like they didn’t have cause. The social media bully tried apologizing for her years of online insults in her confirmation hearing. “I deeply regret and apologize for my language and some of my past language,” she told a roomful of senators, which included several of her favorite targets. Although the senators might forgive, they didn’t forget. Republicans spent a good chunk of her confirmation hearing reading her words back to her, deepening the embarrassment for the Biden administration and highlighting just how much hypocrisy there is on the Left.
“You wrote that Susan Collins is ‘the worst’, that Tom Cotton is a fraud, that vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz,” Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) argued. “You called Leader McConnell ‘Moscow Mitch’ and Voldemort.” Look, Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) said, “I don’t mind disagreements in policy. I think that’s great. I love the dialect, but the comments were personal… [And] it’s not just one or two. I think you deleted about 1,000 tweets — and it wasn’t just about Republicans.”
Despite meeting with more than 46 senators one-on-one, Tanden’s baggage was just too much. “Her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend,” Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) pointed out. Eventually, Tanden’s nomination became such a distraction that Biden’s own party did the White House the favor of killing it. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) made it clear that he wouldn’t toe the president’s radical line, insisting that Tanden’s “overtly partisan statements” would have a “toxic and detrimental impact” on the relationship between Congress and OMB. Moderate Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) seemed to agree, refusing to say she would rubber-stamp Biden’s controversial pick.
By Tuesday, Tanden had withdrawn her name, writing to Biden, “Unfortunately, it now seems clear that there is no path forward to gain confirmation, and I do not want continued consideration of my nomination to be a distraction from your other priorities.” For the Biden team, the whole debacle was embarrassing and revealing. Even CNN couldn’t believe the White House so seriously underestimated Tanden’s unpopularity. Her “aggressive and attacking style” was always going to “doom” her nomination, they argued. This defeat was “a real stumble for the new team,” who’s whole campaign schtick was that they’d act like grown-ups.
Even more incredibly, Biden doesn’t seem to grasp that he’s operating under a razor-thin majority — and much as he may want them to, the party’s moderates aren’t just going to fall in line with his extremism. And that includes Xavier Becerra, the president’s wildly controversial pick for HHS secretary. Not only is he shockingly unqualified (Senator James Lankford, R-Okla., said the administration could have found a better candidate on LinkedIn), but the former attorney general of California is a rabid pro-abortion militant — a combination that Republicans are hoping will help shut the nomination down.
It’s “a puzzling selection for this critical post,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) shook his head. “I would’ve been willing to vote for somebody [Biden chose],” Sen. Cassidy, one of the chamber’s more “moderate” Republicans, told reporters, “but you’ve got to at least know something about the subject matter. If I, as a doctor, was appointed to be the attorney general of the United States of America, what would you think? That’s kind of odd.”
Meanwhile, the media — Biden’s greatest cheerleader — has been relatively mum on his missteps. And the American people have noticed. In a new Harvard-Harris poll, most people say the press is “too easy on Biden.” Maureen Dowd, in a surprisingly candid column for the New York Times, agreed. After Donald Trump, when “many reporters offered sharp opinions, the kind not seen before in covering a president… lines were blurred.” Those lines were supposed to “snap back when normality was restored,” she said. They haven’t.
“Some Washington reporters have been worried about this for some time,” Dowd pointed out, “that the Left would ‘work the refs,’ as one put it, and turn on the media and attack if they dared to report something that could endanger the Republic (a.k.a. hurt a Democrat). But the role of the press in a functioning democracy is as watchdog, not partisan attack dog. Politicians have plenty of people spinning for them. They don’t need the press doing that, too. Believe me, you want us on that wall.”
Originally published here.
Joe Biden: The Two Trillion Dollar Man
“I’m hoping for infinity.” That’s what Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) joked to a reporter about how long Wednesday night’s debate over virus aid will be. “I don’t want it to pass,” he said seriously, so an endless debate would suit him just fine. And an endless debate is what the Senate is in for, thanks to the reconciliation process Democrats are using to ram through their miserable excuse for “virus relief.” At $1.9 trillion dollars, the price tag is steep — but is it as steep as the price liberals could (and hopefully will) pay in the midterms?
In the House, the only thing that was bipartisan about the COVID relief package was the opposition. Not a single Republican voted for the plan, and two Democrats crossed over to join them. Now, facing the slimmest of margins in the 50-50 U.S. Senate, Joe Biden has his work cut out for him. The conservatives’ messaging, along with the unflattering analysis from several economists, has done plenty to take the shine off of the White House’s legislation. Making the hill even higher for Biden, he can’t afford to lose a single Democrat.
That’s a tall order on a bill slammed for having almost nothing to do with the pandemic it’s supposed to address. “Every American, according to Joe Biden today, will be able to get a vaccine in fewer than 90 days. Yet they still want to spend two trillion dollars that we don’t have,” Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) argued on “Washington Watch,” “90 percent of which goes to things other than coronavirus.” “Look,” he said, “we passed five-plus bills last year related to coronavirus — many of them passed unanimously. They passed in the Senate on average with more than 90 votes. It’s clear that Senate Republicans were willing to cooperate and work in a bipartisan fashion to address the genuine needs that our country may have. What we are not willing to do,” he warned, “is spend hundreds of billions of dollars of your tax dollars bailing out poorly run states or subsidizing teachers unions who still to this day refuse to go back to school even if they’re given priority access to the vaccine.”
Of course, Joe Biden is racing to pass this package — and it’s not difficult to see why. If Democrats don’t move quickly, they’ll miss using this crisis to advance their agenda. But where was that same urgency in 2020, Cotton asked, when he was sounding the alarm about the virus? Had the Left not been so wrapped up in impeaching President Trump, the whole country could have resolved this crisis sooner. Instead, they ignored the warnings, pursued their political vendetta, and then turned around and blamed Republicans for not doing something about it.
But at the end of the day, what will hurt Democrats isn’t their failure to act. It’s their decision to pass off pork and payoffs as meaningful action for the American people hoping that $1400.00 in hush money will distract voters. “The Biden bankruptcy bill is going to bankrupt America, the Pelosi payoff,” Cotton argued. “One reason he thinks there’s no time left [is that]… the American people are going to realize that this is not about battling a once-in-a-century pandemic. This is about paying off Democratic clients and constituencies. I mean, just look at some of the stuff that’s in this bill. You mentioned the Blue State bailout. The bill is going to give billions of dollars to states like California who have been fiscally mismanaged for years, and who didn’t even lose money last year. California has more tax dollars this year than it did last year. Yet Congress is about to give California billions of dollars. You could say the same thing over and over again about other Democratic states.”
There are millions for trains, theater, art, bridges, liberal teachers’ unions — you name it. And unlike the legislation passed under Donald Trump, this leaves the door wide open for abortion funding. In the foreign aid funding, Democrats are breaking with a half-century tradition and forcing taxpayers back into partnership with abortion providers. “Our [relief] last year in every instance ensured that affiliates of Planned Parenthood could not get your tax dollars. That is taken out of this bill,” Cotton explained. It’s one of the reasons that — to his knowledge — no Republican will vote for it.
“I can’t imagine who would, given that this is almost nothing to do with the coronavirus almost entirely, just a payoff to Democratic Party clients and patrons and constituencies. Second, I have to imagine that in the end, they’re going to get all 50 Democratic votes. There’s probably a lot of arm-twisting and a lot of hollering and squealing going on behind closed doors right now, but they view this as their number one priority. This is their way to pay off all the people who have been supporting them and their campaigns for decades and maybe a controversial amendment here or there will get adopted… I suspect in the end, the Democrats are going to walk the plank on this.” But he warned, “they’ll pay the price next year in the election.”
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.
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