One side benefit of the defeat of Neera Tanden’s nomination (if that’s what ends up happening) is the enjoyment of watching identity politics bean-counters explode in anger, making fools of themselves in the process. Rep. Judy Chu, head of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and her colleague Rep. Grace Meng claim to detect a double standard in the opposition to Tanden (who is Asian, but not Asian Pacific, for those of you keeping score at home). Chu states:
There’s a double standard going on. [Tanden’s] nomination is very significant for us Asian American and Pacific Islanders. I do believe that this double standard has to do with the fact that she would be a pioneer in that position.
I doubt that many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders know who Neera Tanden is, or care. Nonetheless, she shouldn’t be the victim of a double standard.
But what’s the evidence of a double standard? According to Politico:
Inside the White House, it did not go unnoticed that many of the lawmakers objecting to Tanden’s social media missives—including Manchin—voted to confirm Richard Grenell, the acid-tongued Trump booster, to the post of U.S. ambassador to Germany.
Grenell may be “acid tongued,” but did he ever call U.S. Senators names, as Tanden did? Not that I know of, and not according to anything in Politico’s silly report.
Whatever one’s race, ethnicity, or gender, it’s bad practice to call Senators names if you hope to be confirmed for any position by the Senate.
[Democrats] point not just to [former president Trump’s] own acerbic social media presence and repeated attacks on lawmakers of color, but to Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s conduct during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing and the confirmation of former Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general decades after he lost a bid for a federal judgeship over accusations of racism.
These comparisons are ridiculous. The Senate never confirmed Trump to any position; nor is it clear that the Senate would have done so.
Kavanaugh lashed out at Senators who, in effect, accused him of rape. Tanden, by contrast, attacked Senators for no reason other than that they disagree with her policy positions. In any case, Kavanaugh did not resort to the kind of schoolyard name calling Tanden indulged in.
Sessions, an old-fashioned gentleman, certainly never insulted his fellow Senators. And the accusations of racism were baseless. Sessions’ Senate colleagues knew he wasn’t a racist. But Tanden’s past viciousness is undisputed. She even had to apologize for it.
Politico assures us that “it’s not just Tanden’s nomination that is surfacing complaints of sexism and racial prejudice.” Of course it isn’t. When one identity politics group starts whining, can others be far behind?
Thus, opposition to Xavier Becerra, a Latino, is deemed suspect, if not outright racist. Democrats complain that Becerra is being called underqualified because he is not a doctor, yet Trump’s Health Secretary, Alex Azar, wasn’t a physician, either. (Azar, by the way, is of Middle Eastern descent.)
This is beyond stupid. The objection to Becerra isn’t that’s he’s not a doctor. The objection, as I phrased it yesterday, is that Becerra “has no experience working at HHS, no medical background, and has never been chief executive of a state or any entity other than an attorney general’s shop.”
Compare this to Azar. Before becoming Secretary of HHS, he had been both the general counsel and the deputy Secretary of that very agency. He had also been president of the U.S. division of Eli Lilly, a huge drug company.
Clearly, Azar had loads of experience directly relevant to the position for which Trump nominated him. Clearly, Becerra does not.
And clearly, opposition to Tanden and Becerra has nothing to do with their race or ethnicity. Claims to the contrary cannot be made with a straight face.
Unfortunately, when it comes to spouting Democrat talking points, Politico does not apply a straight-face test.
UPDATE: Sen. Manchin has doubts about voting to confirm Rep. Deb Haaland, Biden’s nominee to be Secretary of Interior. Haaland is an American Indian (don’t confuse her with the great Norwegian footballer).
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggests that Manchin’s opposition is racist. Has it not occurred to her that the West Virginia Senator’s reservations might have something to do with Haaland’s past positions on fossil fuels?
Of course it has. Ocasio-Cortez isn’t bright, but she’s not stupid.
Playing the race card against Manchin over the Haaland nomination is an act of pure cynicism. Fortunately, it’s unlikely to move the Senator.