Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has staked out his power in the new Senate by casting the decisive thumbs down on the Biden nomination of Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Manchin needed to show his awesome power as, in effect, his own branch of government (when the Senate became evenly divided by party), by killing some proposal of the Biden Administration.
But the rank amateur Biden tapped to be vice president — Kamala Harris — gave Manchin an irresistible opportunity to exercise his muscle by going to West Virginia and pressuring the moderate to back the Biden stimulus package without even telling her fellow Democrat that she was entering his airspace.
Kamala pontificated, on WSAZ-TV, an NBC affiliate based in Huntington, West Virginia saying, “In West Virginia, one in seven families is describing their household as being hungry, one in six can’t pay their rent, and one in four small businesses are closing permanently or have already closed, so it’s a big issue in West Virginia and across the country,” Harris said. “And that’s why the president and I are offering the American Rescue Plan.”
Meanwhile Manchin seethed. “I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “No one called me…We’re going to try to find a bipartisan pathway forward…but we need to work together. That’s not a way of working together, what was done.”
Kamala gave Biden a headache he didn’t need and likely triggered the new president’s first legislative defeat even as his party took over both houses.
Not that Tanden didn’t earn it. Her tweets, over a thousand of which she deleted, needlessly attacked, ridiculed, and demeaned many of the key Senators she now needs to be confirmed. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, one of the few Republicans who could switch over to rescue Tanden, is smarting over a tweet sent by the nominee belittling her support for the 2017 tax cut.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, there appears to be a limit to how many senators you can antagonize on social media and still get confirmed.
But it isn’t just Neera’s tweets, it’s her punches too. She slammed a reporter who subsequently worked for Bernie Sanders, Faiz Shakir, in the chest when he dared to ask Hillary about her support for the Iraq War during the 2016 primaries. Tanden, at the time, was working for Hillary, presumably getting lessons on charm and deportment from the former First Lady.
All this highlights the pivotal role of Joe Manchin. Biden will need his OK on everything and won’t dare take a step without it. But he also will need the votes of the ultra leftist Georgia Senators — Ossoff and Warnock. Weaving a path between these icebergs is a feat the captain of the Titanic would envy.
He doesn’t need amateurs like his vice president screwing things up for him.
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