As Neera Tanden’s hopes for running the Office of Management and Budget fade, media boosters are blaming bipartisan opposition to her nomination on sexism and racism.
Tanden, the president of the liberal Center for American Progress and a Washington mainstay since the Clinton administration, appears unlikely to be confirmed after key swing vote Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., announced his opposition over her caustic Twitter history. Tanden deleted more than 1,000 tweets after President Biden nominated her, many of them personal attacks on lawmakers.
MSNBC far-left anchor Joy Reid cited a HuffPost article Tuesday declaring Biden’s “nominees of color are facing outsize opposition” and cryptically noted Manchin’s stance against Tanden and undecided opinion on Secretary of Interior nominee Deb Haaland, who is Native American. The hyperpartisan host even said, “What’s up with you, Joe?”
The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin, a former conservative who now calls herself an “Andrew Cuomo Democrat,” also accused Manchin of being “sexist.”
Another liberal columnist, Karen Tumulty, also cited possible sexism in defending Tanden.
“It seems fair to wonder whether sexism is a factor working against Tanden in the male-dominated Senate — or, as conservative strategist William Kristol put it, whether “these tweets sound harsher to these old guys because they’re coming from a woman,” Tumulty wrote.
CNN host Brianna Keilar, over a chyron Tuesday reading, “Manchin called out for indecision about Haaland confirmation,” told viewers “both of these nominees are women of color” and criticized Manchin for previously confirming Ric Grenell as Ambassador of Germany, given his acidic social media history.
“I think obviously there obviously is a double standard because you look at other people who have been confirmed,” CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers said.
“I’m not interested in what people who have enabled [Donald Trump] the last four years and continue to enable him, and those are the Republicans in Congress. And to certain extent, even Joe Manchin enabled him as well. So you do have to have one standard, and you can’t suddenly just decide that you have a standard for these women of color that you don’t ever hold anybody else to.”
The rhetoric matches those of some Democratic lawmakers, such as Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., claiming that opposition to Tanden is because she would be a “pioneer” in her position.
“Her nomination is very significant for us Asian American and Pacific Islanders,” she said.
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., complained about Tanden’s treatment on Twitter, noting he represented one of the largest Indian-American districts in the country.
“How do I look at what’s happening to [Tanden] and tell little girls of South Asian descent that they’ll have the same opportunities in life as white men? The answer: I can’t. And that’s a shame.”
The Senate has already confirmed several minority and female members of Biden’s Cabinet, however, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the second openly gay man to hold a Cabinet-level position.
The White House has leaned into Tanden’s race as among the reasons she should be confirmed. Press secretary Jen Psaki noted that Tanden potentially being the first Asian-American woman to lead the office would be second on the list of her credentials.
Tanden needs at least one Republican to flip, and none of the GOP swing votes have come to her rescue. Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Susan Collins, R-Maine, Pat Toomey, R-Penn., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, all oppose her nominattion.
Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.