I’ve been on Twitter since its infancy, March 2008. I came to it via an OG NOLA blogger acquaintance who we nicknamed Trotsky because he had Leon Trotsky hair and fancied himself something of an internet revolutionary. I lost touch with Trotsky but as far as I know, he’s never been attacked by a Stalinist with an ice pick.
For many years, I engaged in some pitched online battles with people on political Twitter; some from the far left, others from the far right. Not long after the 2016 election catastrophe, I realized that fighting with strangers on the Tweeter Tube was a waste of time and energy. I stopped arguing with them because it was futile.
Twitter became meaner and uglier after its Trumpification and the battles became nastier. Many continued to fight with trolls and other pains in the ass; Neera Tanden is among those Twitter warriors.
I’ve been following Tanden for many years. Her feed is often amusing and informative. It’s also extremely combative. Neera Tanden is one tough broad and I say that as a compliment. She doesn’t take shit from anyone. I often wondered if she’d given up her ambition to serve in appointed or elective office since she tweeted with a blow torch.
We’ve heard much from the right and center-right about her mean tweets. We’ve heard less from the left: many of Tanden’s fiercest Twitter battles were with some of Bernie Sanders’ less salubrious supporters. Neera and Bernie have buried the hatchet and thus far there seems to be no *meaningful* real world opposition from the left to her nomination as budget director. The Twitter left is a different story but who the hell cares about them?
Unlike the girly men of the right, Bernie Sanders can take a punch and respects the toughness of Tanden. His opinion matters because he’s the chairman of the budget committee. He’s voting to confirm.
The mean tweets war accelerated when West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin announced his opposition based on Tanden’s mean tweets. In the past, Manchin has voted for the likes of Rick Grennel whose tweets made Tanden’s look mild-mannered in contrast. This is quite simply the dumbest reason ever for opposing a nomination. Say it ain’t so, Joe. Sorry, Cassandra, your guy got this one wrong.
There’s a clear double standard at work here. The Biden nominees who are having the most trouble are women and people of color. Imagine that. Additionally, the notion that Republicans object to mean tweets is preposterous. Before his exile, the Impeached Insult Comedian was the meanest tweeter of all as well as the biggest liar. Neera Tanden has a sharp tongue but speaks the truth.
It’s time for a brief musical interlude:
Tough-talking women are viewed with suspicion in our society. I not only embrace the tough broad ethos, I celebrate it. In this case, Neera Tanden is eminently qualified to be OMB honcho. Lapsed Republican/former Bush aide David Frum neatly summed it up:
The idea that a Democratic senator willing to confirm Trump ambassadors draws the line at the brilliant @neeratanden – it's unfathomable. She ran a leading, arguably the leading, Democratic think. It would be like a Republican senator rejecting the head of @AEI for OMB 7/x
— David Frum (@davidfrum) February 20, 2021
Slowly but surely Neera Tanden’s tweets are turning into the 2021 edition of Hillary Clinton’s emails. It’s even more ridiculous than that ridiculous episode as the issue is her opinions, not any question of law or propriety however specious. Neera Tanden gets it: she was one of Hillary’s top aides in 2016.
This episode shows how low our body politic has sunk. Tweets, mean or nice, should have no bearing on anyone’s ability to serve in government. Twitter is supposed to be a lark, not all important. Note the motto on my own Twitter profile:
I guess I should amend my motto to: Nothing that happens on Twitter *should* matter.
The last word goes to Crowded House in the fog:
As of now it’s unclear where Neera Tanden’s “blind date with destiny” will take her. I hope she’s confirmed but the White House has made it clear that there’s a place in the administration for her regardless of how The Curious Case Of The Mean Tweets War concludes.