President Biden’s nominee for director of the White House Office of Management and Budget Neera Tanden recently addressed hostile tweets she’d posted during her confirmation hearing.
Tanden had targeted various Republican lawmakers and high-profile elected officials including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who she called ‘Voldemort’ and Ted Cruz who she said had less of a heart than a vampire. She called Sen. Tom Cotton a “fraud” and that Sen. Susan Collins was just “the worst.”
Sen. Rob Portman, the first Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, brought up these claims and asked how she planned to mend fences and build relationships with the members of Congress she had attacked. “I believe that the tone, the content, and the aggressive partisanship of some of your public statements have added to the troubling trend of more incivility and division in our public life, and in your case, I’m concerned that your personal attacks about specific senators will make it more difficult for you to work with them,” he said.
“For those concerned about my rhetoric and my language, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for any hurt that they’ve caused,” Tanden said.
Tanden said that she recognizes her bipartisan role and that she has to earn the trust of senators across the board. She would be shepherded through the role by Sen. Bernie Sanders since he is on the Senate Budget Committee. Tanden took an outward oppositional stance to Sanders’ campaign in 2016 as he moved towards challenging her former boss and close ally, Hillary Clinton. Sanders’ supporters have also criticized Tanden for embracing corporate money.
“She was so vitriolic throughout all of ’15 and ’16 and into this campaign. She now has built, within her own party, thousands, millions of enemies out there who are just laying in wait. She’s going to have to take whatever tweaks come her way and roll,” said a former adviser to Sanders in 2016.
During the 2019 presidential primary race, Sanders even wrote a fiery letter to the Center for American Progress accusing Tenden of maligning his staff and supporters as well as belittling progressive ideas.
While Tanden deleted thousands of tweets following November’s election, there were still nine pages of posts about Cruz that were up. When asked if she had any assistance from the Biden transition team when she deleted tweets, she insisted that no one advised her on this. “I deleted tweets because I regretted my tone and I’ve deleted tweets over many months,” Tanden said.
A couple of deleted tweets is normal but thousands of deleted tweets over the span of several years is just dangerous. The apology is meaningless if her attitudes have been formed over several years of divisive nature. She’ll just say what she has to now to move through her confirmation hearing. Just like President Biden, once you’re in office you do whatever you want.