It’s an unofficial weblog sponsored by the Democratic Leadership Council, written by yours truly, Ed Kilgore, a veteran operative with one foot in the world of ideas and another in the world of practical politics — in other words, a two-legged New Democrat, or new donkey. The word “unofficial” should be noted here. Yes, the news and views expressed here reflect the DLC’s New Democratic philosophy and outlook, and yes, if felonies are committed, the DLC will have no choice but to accept legal responsibility prior to firing my ass. But on the other hand, if what I write here annoys or offends you, don’t blame Al From or Bruce Reed. Give these men the courtesy of letting them annoy or offend you in their own words. True New Dem aficionados may wonder whether this blog overlaps with the DLC’s commentary, idea and message post (and email), the New Dem Dispatch. So here’s the deal: New Dem Dispatch — think authoritative, institutional voice, magisterially surveying the political and policy landscape and delivering op-ed length gems of wisdom; NewDonkey — think pithier, and more irregular posts, often simply linking to material of interest, varied by the occasional smart-ass riposte or high-dudgeon tirade. While NewDonkey is a mainly a political and policy blog, I reserve the right, which I regularly abuse, to delve into matters like religion and college football from time to time. While the blog will endeavor never to be “magisterial,” I have an Old School attachment to complete sentences and coherent thoughts. I know this is a violation of the months-old canons of the blogosphere, but you’ll get used to it. There’s one other thing you should know about the boundaries of this blog, which the success of sites like Wonkette makes necessary. You won’t find much gossip, and nothing at all about my, or my colleagues’ sex lives, such as they are. This is newdonkey.com, not nudehonky.com. And that reminds me of one more internal rule: no more than one bad pun per post. The bottom line is that I’m doing this blog because it’s fun, and because it may provide some useful information and entertainment to many of you. If it stops being fun for me, or informative and entertaining to you (as measured by the scientific method of weighing hearsay and buzz), I’ll shut it down faster than a Meetup when the bar closes. So please give it a regular look.Ed KilgoreP.S. — It’s come to my attention that some people frequent this site not because of anything I write, but in order to gaze at the very cool logo at the top. Credit that to DLC Art Director Tyler Stone, who’s considering a NewDonkey fashion line.
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By Ed Kilgore
This year’s big media narrative has been the confirmation saga of Neera Tanden, Biden’s nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget. At New York I wrote about how over-heated the talk surrounding Tanden has become.
Okay, folks, this is getting ridiculous. When a vote in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on the nomination of Neera Tanden was postponed earlier this week, you would have thought it presented an existential threat to the Biden presidency. “Scrutiny over Tanden’s selection has continued to build as the story over her uneven reception on Capitol Hill stretched through the week,” said one Washington Post story. Politico Playbook suggested that if Tanden didn’t recover, the brouhaha “has the potential to be what Biden might call a BFD.” There’s been all sorts of unintentionally funny speculation about whether the White House is playing some sort of “three-dimensional chess” in its handling of the confirmation, disguising a nefarious plan B or C.
Perhaps it reflects the law of supply and demand, which requires the inflation of any bit of trouble for Biden into a crisis. After all, his Cabinet nominees have been approved by the Senate with a minimum of 56 votes; the second-lowest level of support was 64 votes. One nominee who was the subject of all sorts of initial shrieking, Tom Vilsack, was confirmed with 92 Senate votes. Meanwhile, Congress is on track to approve the largest package of legislation moved by any president since at least the Reagan budget of 1981, with a lot of the work on it being conducted quietly in both chambers. Maybe if the bill hits some sort of roadblock, or if Republican fury at HHS nominee Xavier Becerra (whose confirmation has predictably become the big fundraising and mobilization vehicle for the GOP’s very loud anti-abortion constituency) reaches a certain decibel level, Tanden can get out of the spotlight for a bit.
But what’s really unfair — and beyond that, surreal — is the extent to which this confirmation is being treated as more important than all the others combined, or indeed, as a make-or-break moment for a presidency that has barely begun. It’s not. If Tanden cannot get confirmed, the Biden administration won’t miss a beat, and I am reasonably sure she will still have a distinguished future in public affairs (though perhaps one without much of a social-media presence). And if she is confirmed, we’ll all forget about the brouhaha and begin focusing on how she does the job, which she is, by all accounts, qualified to perform.