Yes, Ms. Tanden has been undiplomatic. But the case against her confirmation is weak — especially when you compare her with many of the people Republican senators have endorsed in the past.
Republican opposition to Ms. Tanden because of her sometimes-tough tweeting reflects some mind-boggling hypocrisy. Republicans spent four years playing down and forgiving President Donald Trump’s disgusting tweets. Not a single Republican voted against confirming Richard Grenell, Mr. Trump’s ambassador to Germany, despite his history of Twitter trolling — including nasty comments about the appearances of female journalists and world leaders — which was far worse than Ms. Tanden’s tweets. Mr. Manchin voted to confirm Mr. Grenell, too.
Ms. Tanden is tapped to lead Mr. Biden’s budget office, where it is important for the president to have an appointee who reflects his views. Is it unacceptable for the OMB director to be strongly partisan? Republicans didn’t think so when they jammed through Mick Mulvaney, a co-founder of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, to be Mr. Trump’s first OMB chair, despite Mr. Mulvaney’s destructive opposition to raising the national debt limit and avoiding government shutdowns during Barack Obama’s presidency. When Mr. Mulvaney became Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, Republicans approved conservative ideologue Russell Vought to direct the Trump administration’s budget office. Ms. Tanden, by contrast, has deployed her sharp elbows to battle the Democrats’ left wing as well as Republicans on her right.
It is not fair to hold Mr. Biden’s nominees to a far higher standard because the president has called for unity while his predecessor denigrated it. Ms. Tanden should have been more civil in the past, like many people in Washington. But the Senate should approve presidents’ picks to staff their administrations unless those picks are grossly unqualified. Ms. Tanden’s long service in Washington, as a top player in Democratic politics and policy and as the head of a major think tank, makes her more qualified than was either Mr. Mulvaney or Mr. Vought.
For the most part, Republican senators thus far have been supporting Mr. Biden’s nominations with admirable bipartisanship. They will look silly if they allow some hurt feelings to get in the way now.