I vaguely remember Neera Tanden on twitter. She wasn’t someone whose twits mattered much to me, largely because they ranged from nasty to bizarrely idiotic. That may be because the only time I saw them was when they were retwitted into my timeline. I didn’t follow her. She didn’t interest me beyond being a parody. I recall retwitting them on a few occasions because I thought they were that awful.
But I do recall being unhappily surprised to learn that Joe Biden nominated her for head of the Office of Management and Budget. Had he run out of names of people who weren’t flaming nutjobs and was left with Tanden? Then again, he also named Catherine Lhamon to be a White House aide and Vanita Gupta to the number 3 post at DoJ, so maybe this wasn’t just a terrible mistake resulting from having no one else to pick. But Neera Tandem doesn’t belong in any position in government, and the Senate is set to ding her nomination.
“There’s a double standard going on,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), head of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “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.”
Did you know there was a “Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus”? Did you know that it’s “very significant for [them] Asian American and Pacific Islanders” that anyone with their shared identity (Clarence Thomas Exception noted) be above challenge?
“We can disagree with her tweets, but in the past, Trump nominees that they’ve confirmed and supported had much more serious issues and conflicts than just something that was written on Twitter,” Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) said in an interview after tweeting in frustration about Manchin’s reported hesitancy around some nominations. “This is not just about any one nominee like Neera, or whoever else — it’s just about this pattern that is happening and increasingly hard to ignore.”
While there is a point here, that the then-Republican controlled Senate confirmed the prior administrations nominees of highly dubious worth and significant offensive history, there is a difference in how the battle for the nomination of Tanden is being fought.
Her supporters now say that her social media presence is being used as a cover by her opponents, noting that she has apologized, deleted and taken ownership for her tweets. And Democrats argue that after the Trump years, there is little justification for having someone’s online behavior serve as a disqualifier.
On the one hand, Tanden apologies and deleted her most offensive twits. Isn’t it progressive to forgive and forget? On the other hand, she’s not nearly as offensive as Trump nominees, at least to most of the Democrats. But mostly, she’s an Asian American woman, so how dare a white man like Joe Manchin not approve? It can only be sexism and racism, which makes complete sense if everything is sexism and racism.
Is identity the new immunity?
Derrick Johnson, president of the civil rights group NAACP, said that as nominees neared their confirmation votes, it would “become apparent whether or not those individuals who are women or people of color are receiving a different level of scrutiny.”
How would it become apparent? If the Senate fails to consent to “women or people of color,” does that prove they are “receiving a different level of scrutiny”? Has the new paradigm become that one can ding a nominee as long as they’re a white male, but otherwise it’s racist, sexist or whatever other -ist their identity permits?
The argument is that if the Senate approved nominees that the left found reprehensible, there can be no excuse not to approve nominees that the right and middle and moderate left find reprehensible, therefore leaving only the evils of racism and sexism to explain. Is identity the trump card to be played whenever four years of outrageously bizarre conduct might stand in the way of confirmation?
Then again, it’s not that they’re entirely wrong about the Republicans rationalizing away their own tribe’s offenses when they had the votes, without losing sleep over it. Whether it’s comparable is a fair question. Then again, the Dems weren’t too identity prone when it came to Judge Neomi Rao, when the Clarence Thomas Exception kicked in.
*Tuesday Talk rules apply.