Nope: Biden Picks Conspiracy Theorist to Lead Budget Team

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Posted: Dec 01, 2020 10:25 AM
Nope: Biden Picks Conspiracy Theorist to Lead Budget Team

Source: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

On one hand, the federal government's budget process has become such a dysfunctional mess that there's an argument to be made that one could put an actual muppet in charge, and it wouldn't make much of a difference. And given the bipartisan commitment to fiscal irresponsibility, both parties have made clear that seriousness on this overall matter isn't exactly prized. Among the full-blown denialist Democrats, cartoonish, reckless unseriousness is arguably encouraged and rewarded. Nevertheless, the government's budget and our national solvency are, in fact, very important things, so the person leading the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) matters. And in light of our political tribes' descent into unhealthy paranoia, conspiracy mongers should generally be kept away from the levers of power, to the greatest extent possible. Much has already been made of President-Elect Biden's selection of a trash-talking hardcore partisan to run OMB, including her many vitriolic attacks against Republicans -- including the idiotic McCarthyite smear of the Senate Majority Leader as "Moscow Mitch" (a moniker also employed by another clownish political actor). A number of GOP sources have already telegraphed that Neera Tanden's nomination doesn't stand a chance, which is likely true if Republicans still control the Senate after the Georgia runoffs.

Some are speculating that Tanden will be one of the sacrificial lambs served up to the opposition, which typically selects one or two nominees from an incoming administration to aggressively target or defeat. Another might have been Susan Rice as secretary of state, a move Biden smartly avoided, reportedly ignoring the bad advice of Barack Obama. There are many reasons Tanden shouldn't wield any significant governmental power in this country, and they have nothing to do with her race or gender, despite the lazy trope that inevitably arises when substantive objections are raised to progressive people who tick certain identity boxes. Perhaps at the top of the list is Tanden's indulgence of a wild and factually false conspiracy theory that the 2016 election was "hacked" by the Russian government, which switched votes to hand President Trump his win. This is crazy and untrue, but it's a view that has been widely embraced by many leftists, including a super-majority of the Democratic base. Tanden helped peddle this sort of nonsense:


The media, their allies on the Left, and even many conservatives have decried Trump's decision to push baseless claims about the "stolen" or "rigged" 2020 election -- but when the Left was doing their own version of the same, it was treated as a curiosity or ignored. But now, people like Tanden want serious power, and Senate Republicans would be well within their rights to reject her nomination if they have the votes to do so (a Schumer Senate based on Democratic gains in Georgia would change the game). By the way, if the Tanden nomination falls apart, it won't be because a beloved figure on the Left was unfairly torpedoed by those nasty right-wingers. Tanden has cultivated quite a list of enemies over the years, having amassed a reservoir of bad will on her own side of the ideological aisle, including among some who've worked with and for her:


Meanwhile, criticism has been mounting over a top candidate Biden is said to be mulling for White House Press Secretary:

Incoming president Joe Biden is reportedly close to selecting a vocal Israel critic to serve as his White House press secretary. Karine Jean-Pierre, a longtime campaign adviser and incoming vice president Kamala Harris's chief of staff, is currently the "top candidate" for the job, according to NBC News. Jean-Pierre was senior adviser and national spokeswoman for MoveOn.org, a far-left anti-Israel group that defends boycotts of the Jewish state, from April 2016 until August 2020, when she was hired as chief of staff for Harris. Jean-Pierre has been a vocal critic of Israel, accusing the Jewish state of committing "war crimes" and, during the Democratic primary, celebrating Democrats who boycotted the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual conference in Washington, D.C. She praised those lawmakers for "boldly choosing to prioritize diplomacy and human rights over the power of a lobbying organization." Team Biden's focus on Jean-Pierre is likely to rankle the pro-Israel community, which enjoyed strong support from the White House during President Donald Trump's tenure in office. 

It looks like Team Biden went with Jen Psaki, but Jean-Pierre was under major consideration.  There's a real and disturbing schism over Israel on the Left. Biden is on the pro-Israel side of the ledger, but in order to mollify a growing wing of his party, Israel-hostile figures will be empowered. I'll leave you with one person I can think of who'd be pleased by a Jean-Pierre selection: