Monday, February 22, 2021

Last Call For Surviving A Neera Miss

In the last few days Sen. Joe Manchin has come out against the nomination of Neera Tanden to lead the White House's budget office, and with Sens. Collins and Romney also coming out against, it looks like the former head of the liberal Center for American Progress think tank may have burned too many bridges on Twitter to get the job.

A Cabinet nominee not making it to the finish line is a story as old as Washington. In the past, nominees have been forced to withdraw because of things like hiring undocumented workers or a questionable business deal or an unwillingness to be as transparent about your past life as our modern politics demands. 
But with Neera Tanden's nomination by President Joe Biden to be the director of the Office of Management and Budget, we may be witnessing the first nominee derailed by Twitter.
On Friday, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced that he wouldn't support Tanden's nomination because of her past tweets savaging a number of Manchin's colleagues. 
"I have carefully reviewed Neera Tanden's public statements and tweets that were personally directed towards my colleagues on both sides of the aisle from Senator Sanders to Senator McConnell and others. I believe her overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Office of Management and Budget," said Manchin. "For this reason, I cannot support her nomination." 
Manchin's announcement imperiled Tanden's nomination, as Democrats control only 50 seats in the Senate. With Manchin against her, Tanden now needs at least one Republican senator to back her nomination for her to make it. And early Monday morning, the Republican considered one of the most likely to back her said she would not -- again because of Twitter. 
Here's Maine Sen. Susan Collins on her opposition to the Tanden nomination:  
Neera Tanden has neither the experience nor the temperament to lead this critical agency. Her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend. 
"In addition, Ms. Tanden's decision to delete more than a thousand tweets in the days before her nomination was announced raises concerns about her commitment to transparency." 
And on Monday, a statement from Sen. Mitt Romney's office made clear that he would be a "no" on the Tanden nomination, citing Twitter as the reason. 
"Senator Romney has been critical of extreme rhetoric from prior nominees, and this is consistent with that position," spokeswoman Arielle Mueller said. "He believes it's hard to return to comity and respect with a nominee who has issued a thousand mean tweets." 
While Tanden's chances are significantly less good than they were even 72 hours ago, the White House is insisting that they will continue to push for her to be confirmed. 
"Neera Tanden=accomplished policy expert, would be 1st Asian American woman to lead OMB, has lived experience having benefited from a number of federal programs as a kid, looking ahead to the committee votes this week and continuing to work toward her confirmation," tweeted White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday morning after the Collins statement came out.
Tanden leveled a LOT of attacks on Twitter against these same senators for blocking Obama-era initiatives and enabling Trump over the last four years, and frankly she made a lot of enemies. Republicans do that too and that kind of hard-nosed social media dexterity made Trump hires famous, the difference is she's of Indian descent and a woman and a liberal who fights back, which means she's just too mean to be hired.

Tanden ran a liberal think tank in the Trump era, meaning she's pretty good with numbers, but progressives hated her too.

For years, Tanden, Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, has feuded -- most frequently and famously on Twitter, where she is prolific and pointed -- with Sanders supporters. Those clashes have occasionally pitted her against personal allies of the Vermont senator and tapped into the left's frustrations with the internal practices of the liberal think tank she's led for nearly a decade.

By the time she was introduced by Biden on Tuesday, alongside other senior members of his economic team, Tanden's path to Senate confirmation already seemed in some peril -- but not because of dissent from the left. The pugilistic president of the Center for American Progress and longtime aide to Hillary Clinton has punched both ways during her long political career. Some Senate Republicans were quick to highlight her past attacks on the right as a reason they might oppose her confirmation.

Now she's both too liberal and not liberal enough, which seemingly only applies to women of color nominated to Democratic positions of power (see the entire year-plus long hatefest against Madam Vice President).  Tanden's most likely toast, but I'm upset to see this kind of petty nonsense going on against Biden's picks from both the left and the right.

However, if you think racism against Biden picks are limited to women, Republicans apparently want California AG Xavier Becerra gone from running the Department of Health and Human Services too.

Go figure.

The Banana Republicans Split

If Donald Trump does actually follow though on his threat to create his own party, nearly half of current Republicans would join him, according to a new USA Today/Suffolk poll from over the weekend.

If there's a civil war in the Republican Party, the voters who backed Donald Trump in November's election are ready to choose sides.

Behind Trump.

An exclusive Suffolk University/USA TODAY Poll finds Trump's support largely unshaken after his second impeachment trial in the Senate, this time on a charge of inciting an insurrection in the deadly assault on the Capitol Jan. 6.

By double digits, 46%-27%, those surveyed say they would abandon the GOP and join the Trump party if the former president decided to create one. The rest are undecided.

"We feel like Republicans don't fight enough for us, and we all see Donald Trump fighting for us as hard as he can, every single day," Brandon Keidl, 27, a Republican and small-business owner from Milwaukee, says in an interview after being polled. "But then you have establishment Republicans who just agree with establishment Democrats and everything, and they don't ever push back."

Half of those polled say the GOP should become "more loyal to Trump," even at the cost of losing support among establishment Republicans. One in five, 19%, say the party should become less loyal to Trump and more aligned with establishment Republicans.

The survey of 1,000 Trump voters, identified from 2020 polls, was taken by landline and cellphone last Monday through Friday. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

They express stronger loyalty to Trump the person (54%) than they did to the Republican Party that twice nominated him for the White House (34%).
If only a quarter to a third of Republicans would absolutely stay in the GOP if Trump made a third party, the term "absolute disaster" doesn't begin to cover it for national Never Trump Republicans. But as much as I'd love to see Republicans split their own vote and get destroyed by Democrats in any even remotely competitive House district, Senate race, or Governor's race, I can't imagine Trump would be allowed to do this because it would lead to a near total takeover of the government by Democrats.

But what Trump does have is leverage over his foes in the GOP, and that leverage is going to only grow stronger. he's still going to pick primary winners in just about every GOP race. That's good for Trump, and bad for the country.

We'll see how much damage the split causes, but it's getting increasingly untenable, and I expect sooner rather than later, the opposition to Trump will be removed completely.

America Goes Viral, And Goes To Mourn

The death toll from COVID-19 has now reached 500,000, an incomprehensible loss of life in any context. And 99.99% of those deaths were preventable, and failed to be prevented by the Trump regime. But it's the Biden administration's problem to fix, and fixing it they are...but thousands are dying daily in the meantime.

A nation numbed by misery and loss is confronting a number that still has the power to shock: 500,000.

Roughly one year since the first known death by the coronavirus in the United States, an unfathomable toll is nearing — the loss of half a million people.

No other country has counted so many deaths in the pandemic. More Americans have perished from Covid-19 than on the battlefields of World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined.

The milestone comes at a hopeful moment: New virus cases are down sharply, deaths are slowing and vaccines are steadily being administered.

But there is concern about emerging variants of the virus, and it may be months before the pandemic is contained.

Each death has left untold numbers of mourners, a ripple effect of loss that has swept over towns and cities. Each death has left an empty space in communities across America: a bar stool where a regular used to sit, one side of a bed unslept in, a home kitchen without its cook.

The living find themselves amid vacant places once occupied by their spouses, parents, neighbors and friends — the nearly 500,000 coronavirus dead.

In Chicago, the Rev. Ezra Jones stands at his pulpit on Sundays, letting his eyes wander to the back row. That spot belonged to Moses Jones, his uncle, who liked to drive to church in his green Chevy Malibu, arrive early and chat everybody up before settling in to his seat by the door. He died of the coronavirus in April.

“I can still see him there,” said Mr. Jones, the pastor. “It never goes away.”

There is a street corner in Plano, Texas, that was occupied by Bob Manus, a veteran crossing guard who shepherded children to school for 16 years, until he fell ill in December.

In the Twin Cities of Minnesota, LiHong Burdick, 72, another victim of the coronavirus, is missing from the groups she cherished: one for playing bridge, another for mahjong and another for polishing her English.

At her empty townhouse, the holiday decorations are still up. There are cards lined on the mantel.

“You walk in and it smells like her,” said her son, Keith Bartram. “Seeing the chair she would sit in, the random things around the house, it’s definitely very surreal. I went over there yesterday and had a little bit of a breakdown. It’s hard to be in there, when it looks like she should be there, but she’s not.”
One in 670 Americans have died from the virus. If you don't personally know somebody who has, I guarantee you that you know multiple people who have lost a friend, co-worker, someone in their religious congregation or a loved one to the virus. It is up to us to remember them, to remember why they died, and to deal with those responsible.

We have to keep living for them.


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