The choice of President-elect Joe Biden for the post of chief budget officer is not pulling the blows online. So when some of his hits aimed at the top Congressional players were taken off the internet, it was clear something was up.
Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, has deleted more than a thousand tweets from her personal Twitter account since early November. A number of them, since picked up by The Daily Beast, contain comments to powerful lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that could turn a relationship into ice before his confirmation hearing in the Senate to lead the Office of management and budget takes place next year.
And that’s exactly what seems to be happening to Tanden.
Tanden deleted some, but not all, tweets from his account, lambasting prominent lawmakers such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Susan Collins (R -ME), and praising their Democrat challengers. It’s unclear exactly when Tanden removed them, but many tweets were available at least until the fall, according to the Internet Archive.
“Can the people here focus their anger on McConnell and the GOP Senators who are at the top of this cycle that allows him: Cory Gardner, Collins, Ernst, Cornyn, Perdue, Tillis And many more”, wrote in a tweet deleted since June 2019 on the seven Republican senators.
When Collins’ re-election looked troubled, Tanden vowed to treat his challenger, Sara Gideon, “like a long-lost relative” and “work hard to help him beat Susan Collins.”
She deleted the tweet some time after November 5th.
As of Monday afternoon, two members of the group she was targeting made comments. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) Told the congressional press pool that he “maybe” believed Tanden was “Biden’s worst candidate yet.”
“I think, in light of his combative and insulting comments about many members of the Senate, mainly on our side of the aisle, that this certainly creates a problematic path,” he said. Tanden was a staunch supporter of challenger MJ Hegar in his unsuccessful attempt to topple Cornyn, but has since deleted at least one tweet support for the Texas Democrat’s performance in an October debate.
Also speaking to reporters at Hill on Monday, Collins said, “I don’t know her, nor a lot of her, but I do know she is a prolific Twitter user.”
(Neither Cornyn nor Collins seemed to recognize the relative absurdity of criticizing the tweets in light of the habits of the outgoing members’ administration.–including the president himself).
Monday evening, Tanden had changed its Twitter organic read: “Director of OMB candidate”. She declined to comment for this article.
Republicans aren’t the only ones to criticize Tanden’s selection. In the 2016 election, her intense criticism of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), then the main opponent of her former boss Hillary Clinton, earned her a reputation as one of the most visible figures and the more outspoken willing to steer the progressives at a time when many sought to downplay the ongoing democratic infighting as exaggerated.
After Clinton eventually won the primary but lost the general election to Donald Trump, Tanden mainly focused on Republicans, but still frequently pissed off progressives in the movement by taking online fights.
“It’s an odd choice for Biden and his ‘healing’ presidency to bring in someone who is so combative, especially on Twitter, given that we’ve just finished a four-year presidency on Twitter,” said Josh Fox, a climate change activist and filmmaker who was a surrogate mother to Sanders in 2016 and 2020. “She causes anger unnecessarily.”
Now, as she prepares for her OMB leadership nomination – a role that would require confirmation from the Republican-held chamber of McConnell if Democrats do not overtake the Senate in two polls in Georgia – Tanden tried to reduce parts of herself. digital footprint which has led to his perception as an “extremely online” person who divides both the left and the right.
The decision to consider Tanden for a place in the Biden administration had been pondered for weeks. According to a source close to Biden’s transition, officials had expressed internally their intention to select her for the post of OMB director during election week on November 3. A review of third-party archive services like Internet Archive and Archive.vn shows that Tanden’s account started on November 1 with 88,639 tweets, but grew to 87,588 as of Monday night.
The deleted tweets also included a beard aimed at McConnell and the Democratic epithet he allegedly felt. “Apparently a lot of people think #MoscowMitch is a threat. Hats off @JoeNBC, ”Tanden wrote in a message now deleted.
Progressives who mingled with Tanden often did so on both substance and style. Three progressive sources who spoke to The Daily Beast about Tanden mentioned areas in which they disagreed about politics, saying that she and CAP under her tenure lean more in the center of the party spectrum.
“There are people on all sides, from all factions, who will say that she is a bad actress,” said Nomiki Konst, progressive activist and media personality. Tanden spent a good deal of his time while leading the CAP to “push very hostile messages to the left,” Konst said.
A source close to Sanders described receiving “stunned” texts from other progressives in the senator’s orbit after the Tanden name was announced by the Senator. the Wall Street newspaper Sunday afternoon, saying he has been received by some as a “major,” especially those who view his online interactions as openly antagonistic to the left. The source also said that various political positions promoted by the CAP have been discussed in a negative light.
“The CAP claims to be aligned with progressive values, but Neera Tanden seems so cynical that she attacks progressive policies like banning fracking, the Green New Deal and Medicare for All,” Fox said. “I just don’t think it’s this time now. This time it’s for us to get things for Americans who are in deep pain.
Tanden’s roots in political circles go back years. During Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, she was an integral member of her tight-knit senior political team, a role largely behind the scenes, noted a Democratic source who has previously worked with her. And his advocacy and communication skills, other Democrats argued, are exactly what will be needed to advance some of the Biden administration’s bolder goals.
She also worked alongside Jake Sullivan and Brian Deese, both of whom are expected to take senior positions under Biden in 2021. Sullivan is expected to serve as a National Security Advisor and Deese has reportedly been asked to head the National Economic Council, which means a small yet influential renaissance of some senior Clinton officials in the president-elect’s circle.
Representative Haley Stevens (D-MI), now in her second term in Congress, was also a part of the Clinton political think tank more than a decade ago and remains a longtime friend of Tanden. Stevens told the Daily Beast that Tanden “knows how to fight inequality and how best to mobilize public resources to help people.”
“As the first woman of color and the first Native American to lead the Office of Management and Budget, Neera’s appointment is an exciting time for our country,” said Stevens. “Neera will be dedicated to making the federal government work for all Americans.”
Other Democratic supporters arrived quickly after the news from Tanden became public. Meaning. Elizabeth warren (D-MA), Cory booker (D-NJ), and Sherrod brown (D-OH) praised his fairness and intelligence, as well as his preparation for this high tax role. Meanwhile, Jen Psaki, Biden’s future White House press secretary, used one of her first public statements to publicly brag Tanden’s personal history and references.
“. @ Neeratanden = a brilliant political expert and knows how vital funding for government programs is. As a child for a period, her family relied on food stamps for food, on food stamps. section 8 for paying rent and on Social Security, “Psaki wrote.” Her new perspective can help capture this moment. “
—Erin Banco and Jackie Kucinich contributed to this report.
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