Neera Tanden: First Cabinet-Level Casualty of the Twitter Age?


That is, until she became quite apologetic after Mr. Biden nominated her to be his budget director.

“I do think the last several years have been very polarizing, and I apologize for my language that has contributed to that,” Ms. Tanden told members of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs this month. “I know it’s on me to demonstrate to this committee and to Republican members and Democratic members I can work with anyone.” She noted that she had deleted many of her old tweets.

Not a problem, because Republicans were more than happy to refresh her, and everyone else’s, memory of them.


“You wrote that Susan Collins is, quote, ‘the worst,’ that Tom Cotton is a fraud,” said Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, scolding Ms. Tanden. “How do you plan to mend fences and build relationships with members of Congress you have attacked through your public statements?”

Mr. Portman went on to read a few more examples, including Ms. Tanden’s assertion that “vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz.” (Mr. Cruz, who was soon bound for Cancún, was one of the few people who seemed to be having less fun than Ms. Tanden.)

As technology evolves, so do the Washington rules of the road. In the past, potential job candidates could be derailed by various “indiscretions,” “past statements” or certain things that they might have said “in the heat of the moment.” All of which is basically Twitter in a nutshell.

“People who want big jobs in Washington are always told to ‘avoid a paper trail,’” said Tevi Troy, a presidential historian and a White House official under President George W. Bush. This generally referred only to potentially inflammatory books, articles or speeches. Then Twitter came along and offered a new and treacherous kind of paper trail. Now anyone can destroy themselves in 280 characters or less in just a few seconds.



“It’s almost worse than a paper trail,” Mr. Troy said of Twitter. “It is more like a diary of what you’re thinking at any given moment.”

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