Republican senators are being accused of hypocrisy for questioning Biden administration nominees because of harsh comments they made on social media in the past — mean tweeting.
Last week, Sen. Jim Inhofe and other GOP lawmakers ripped President Joe Biden’s nominee for undersecretary of defense for policy, Colin Kahl, because of his “hyper-partisanship” and unkind tweets about former President Donald Trump.
Earlier, the Biden administration was forced to withdraw its nomination of Neera Tanden to be director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. The complaint against Tanden? The tone of her past social media posts concerning Republican lawmakers.
Several points seem obvious here:
First, cyberbullying is a genuine social problem, especially for children. Something about social media, especially Twitter, seems to bring out anger and cruelty. If we truly thought the mean-tweet standard being applied to Biden nominees represented a move toward online civility, we’d embrace it.
Second, politics is a contact sport. Some of the tweets we’ve seen questioned were harsh and hyperbole but within the realm of acceptability.
Third, senators can refuse to confirm a president’s nominees for any reason. The Constitution doesn’t say that nominees need the reasonable advice and consent of the Senate, just its advice and consent.
Fourth, Democrats hold a narrow majority in the Senate. If the Biden administration nominates people that its own members can support, they don’t need any Republican votes. What killed the Tanden nomination wasn’t the lack of GOP support, but the lack of Democratic support.
In an ideal world, newly elected presidents would get to choose their advisors with relative freedom. To implement the policies that were chosen through the democratic process, senators should generally confirm anyone who isn’t truly beyond the pale.
But we lost contact with the ideal a long time ago, and everyone agrees, the other side started it.