Monday, February 22, 2021

Neera Tanden For OMB?

Did you ever joke about or insult someone at your job? Maybe you forwarded nasty comments about them over company instant messenger or email. Maybe your friends love your hilarious impression of a co-worker's nasal accent or the funny way they walk. 

Maybe you catalogued this person's mistakes or dumb ideas and gleefully referenced them whenever the person's name came up in business discussions. Maybe you didn't care if the person heard your jokes, putdowns, or criticisms because you didn't report to them. You never foresaw a time when that person or his/her friends would have any authority over you or influence over your next assignment or promotion. Life can quickly change. Sometimes the person you called a malodorous bird brained blockhead is appointed to the committee considering your hire, pay raise, or promotion. Or he or she has good friends who are on that committee. 

You will face some tough questions about your previous comments. What happens next depends on how badly you want the hire, promotion, or pay raise. If you want it, you will swallow your pride and abase yourself before the committee. You denounce your past comments.

You apologize for the unprofessional conduct and any hurt you've caused. You promise to do better. That's no guarantee of success. Some people still won't support your ascension. You could stand on principle, grab your gonads, and tell everyone you're not apologizing for a muyerfuying thing. That generally doesn't work either. President Biden's nominee for OMB director, Neera Tanden, has a long history of combative toxic online and public statements against people with whom she disagrees, which includes but is not limited to Republicans and especially anyone to her left.Tanden would certainly align herself with the "centrist" wing of the Democratic Party. It is a bit ironic then that it was a centrist Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who put Tanden's appointment in at least temporary peril by stating that he would not vote to confirm her.

WASHINGTON — Senator Joe Manchin III announced on Friday that he would oppose the nomination of Neera Tanden, President Biden’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, imperiling her prospects for confirmation in an evenly divided Senate. The announcement by Mr. Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, underscored the fragility of the ambitions of the new Democratic majority in the Senate and the outsize power that any one senator holds over the success of Mr. Biden’s administration and agenda.

The fate of the nomination is now in the hands of a party that Ms. Tanden has frequently criticized in the past, particularly moderate Republicans she has previously scorned. Ms. Tanden would need the support of at least one Republican senator in order to to be confirmed, with the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris needed to break a tie. Given Ms. Tanden’s previous litany of critical public statements and posts on Twitter against members of both parties, it is unclear whether such support exists.

Mr. Manchin cited statements from Ms. Tanden that were personally directed at Senators Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader; Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent now in charge of the Senate Budget Committee; and other colleagues.

“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 Mr. Manchin, who will also cast a decisive vote on Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. “For this reason, I cannot support her nomination. As I have said before, we must take meaningful steps to end the political division and dysfunction that pervades our politics.”
Mr. Biden told reporters on Friday that he did not plan to withdraw her nomination. “I think we are going to find the votes and get her confirmed,” he said.

So Manchin has said no. Even if all 49 remaining Democrats vote to confirm Tanden, something which is questionable as Tanden has also mumbled some unkind words about Senator Sanders of Vermont, there aren't enough votes for confirmation. Tanden will need some Republican votes, perhaps from some of the saner Republicans such as Senator Collins of Maine or Senator Murkowski of Alaska. 

But that support will likely come at a price. Republican support will also depend on how badly Senator McConnell of Kentucky wants to play hardball with President Biden. Within certain limits I don't think a President's nominees matter all that much. They are there to reflect and promote the President's priorities and interests. 
Still Tanden's (brief?) issue regarding nomination is a reminder that words are important. If people don't like you or don't feel that they can work productively with you then all of your qualifications for the position are almost meaningless. 

Unless and until you are the boss, at some point you will have to go along to get along. When you call certain people everything but a child of God, some of them are going to remember and hold a grudge. I also wonder if the White House was aware that Manchin was going to go his own way. Perhaps Biden isn't worried because he already had sufficient votes lined up without Senator Manchin. We will see.
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