I still argue that the divisions within the Democratic Party are going to make the Biden months (heh) in office difficult to manage. Don’t be fooled by the hand-holding Kumbaya drum circles you see right now.
If you want an indication of this, look at the announcement today that Neera Tanden’s nomination to head OMB is being withdrawn. Her nomination was in trouble with Republicans from the start, but after the news broke today I received an email from RootsAction, a progressive group—sorry, I mean, a “Progressive” group—hailing Tanden’s defeat:
“RootsAction is proud to have led the progressive opposition to Neera Tanden’s nomination and heartened that she will not be OMB director. The opposition of Republican senators over nasty tweets was of course hypocritical and absurd, given their muted response to years of Trump’s tweeting. But it was inexcusable for Democratic senators to be silent about the legitimate reasons to oppose her nomination — the potential conflicts of interest raised by her years of coziness with powerful corporate elites. That silence may be explained by the fact that Democrats in the Senate are beholden to some of the same corporate donors that lavishly bankroll Tanden’s think tank. Tanden was the wrong choice to head a federal agency that is vital in the regulatory process. It strains credulity to contend that she would have been a true advocate for the public interest after many years of dutifully serving corporate interests.”
The left hand doesn’t know what the far-left hand is doing!
Now, while everyone is talking about how OMB is really really “vital,” I doubt that is true in an administration that wants to blow the doors off spending and regulating. As such, director of OMB is a rubber stamp job in this administration. So Tanden would have been perfect for it. (Some other time I might take up why OMB is only important to Republican administrations, and not to Democratic administrations.)
When I first heard of her nomination, I immediately defaulted to the cynical view that the Biden inner circle intended her all along to be the lightning rod for the nomination pool—as the sacrificial nominee, since every incoming president loses one or two nominees. Politico reported several days ago that there was no serious White House lobbying or outreach for Tanden, which is not the kind of omission you expect from a DC veteran like Ron Klain. Tanden’s ritual sacrifice makes it easier to pressure Joe Manchin to vote for the much more important HHS post for Xavier Beccera, a much worse person than Tanden. If Manchin supports Becerra, I’ll say that Biden’s strategy (or more likely COS Ron Klain’s strategy) has worked like a charm.