Mar 12, 2021 | OPINION | By Emma Logan | Illustration by Bibi Powers
Last week, President Joe Biden announced the retraction of his nomination of Neera Tanden for White House Budget Director in the wake of pushback about controversial tweets. What about her claims, however, are so unprecedentedly bad?
In a public statement, Tanden supported the decision herself and shared, “I deeply regret and apologize for my language and some of my past language.”
Many of Tanden’s tweets were anything but unprompted and often posted in direct response to colleagues who now act appalled by her behavior.
In a 2017 Alabama special election, Trump backed Republican candidate Roy Moore. Tanden tweeted that Republicans were “gleefully supporting an alleged child molester,” which was true.
Similarly, during one of Trump’s many bigoted tweet-a-thons, he attacked his former aide, Omarosa Manigault Newman in a tweet punctuated with racist imagery.
“Trump just called a black woman a dog and about 80% of the GOP don’t think he’s racist,” Tanden reacted. “The whole party needs to be defeated in November.”
This tweet was much more of a defensive measure than an out-of-the-blue partisan attack, as some would lead us to believe. The irony of the Republican Party’s blindness to the use of racist rhetoric, perpetuated by their own members online in recent years should not be lost.
Even one of Tanden’s most controversial tweets, a claim that Senator Ted Cruz was a “heartless vampire,” still only calls out the actions of an individual. This is much different than the various nationally detrimental tweets peddled by the Trump administration and its cronies, which targeted marginalized communities at large.
Only a year ago, 51 Republican senators voted to confirm Russell Vought to the same position Tanden was nominated for, despite his tweets claiming that Muslims partake in a “deficient theology” and other actively Islamophobic notions.
What is more detrimental to the ideals of our nation: Tanden’s criticism of Ted Cruz or Vought’s ignorant hatred towards an entire community? I would argue it is the one attacking a constitutionally protected religious identity.
The resistance to Tanden’s confirmation is mostly rooted in the hypocritical Republican call for “bipartisanship.” Take Senator Susan Collins’ statements that “[Tanden’s] past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend,” for example.
There is a concerning trend within Republican members of Congress to place the responsibility of healing the rift in our nation, that they strongly helped to widen, solely on the new Democratic administration, without addressing their own place in political polarization.
Perhaps Collins is simply upset that Tanden labeled her “the worst” for continuing to support Brett Kavanaugh despite his sexual assault allegations. Tanden’s claim, again, does not seem very outlandish.
Bipartisanship and cultural collaboration are important, and I myself have eagerly advocated for both repeatedly. There is a difference, however, between powerful political figures isolating broad groups of Americans, as seen in certain campaign tactics, from those already in established positions criticizing specific colleagues.
Bipartisanship isn’t the responsibility of Democrats to make Republican senators feel warm and fuzzy inside, but rather an urge to create policy that will support and appeal to those across our country. This is a distinct difference that we must acknowledge. Because, frankly, I am not convinced that Ted Cruz isn’t a vampire …