Tanden, head of the liberal Center for American Progress, is a lawyer, activist, former senior Hillary Clinton aide and ubiquitous presence on cable television and Twitter. Because Tanden is smart, funny and quick, she’s capable of leaving a mark. I know — I have more Tanden-inflicted scars than the villains in all the Zorro movies and television episodes combined. She has displayed the same cutting ruthlessness on Twitter as she has on set. Which is to be expected. She’s a serious left-liberal, though not as far to the left as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, so she’s left some marks on Team Sanders as well. She should also be confirmed as OMB director.
All political people, especially senators, should live with the same rules of political debate as the rest of us. They should not use their confirmation power to protect themselves from online criticism, however hurtful. Everyone draws the line at threats. But Tanden has just clobbered people the good old-fashioned way: with words. By 19th-century standards she is actually tame. More to the point, it’s the 21st century; online and television and radio barbs are part of freedom’s fray. Which brings us back to Ted Lasso — and the Constitution. Lasso, an American football coach hired to lead a mediocre British soccer team, embodies a cross section of old-school virtues out of place in a postmodern world. The success of the show is an argument that more of that Lasso-ian temperament would serve us all well. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Tone it down, please. And Tanden’s decidedly non-toned-down past may sink her nomination. Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) announced Friday that he would not support Tanden, citing her “overtly partisan statements” and the consequent “toxic and detrimental impact” on her ability to work with Congress.