Several alert readers have emailed me to make sure I know that the day-labor site in Herndon, Virginia, that was the object of Jerry Kilgore’s unsuccessful demagoguery in the late governor’s race is not, as I keep writing, in Loudoun County, but is instead in Fairfax County. (It’s actually near the Loudoun-Fairfax border, but facts are facts).Anyway, this correction enables me to point out that ol’ Jerry’s message resonated even less in the mega-suburb of Fairfax than it did in the smaller if faster-growing Loudoun. Kaine won Fairfax County by an astounding 60/38 margin, a plurality of more than 60,000 votes (or about 58% of his statewide margin), a big improvement over Mark Warner’s 54/45 win in 2001 (which produced a 25,000 vote plurality, or about 26% of Warner’s statewide margin).There’s a broader lesson here, that transcends suburban distaste for Jerry’s antics: Tim Kaine provided positive economic message to Northern Virginia, which harkened back to the days when Democrats made gains in high-growth areas by talking about balanced growth and “quality of life” issues. As the DLC noted today in a meditation on the Kaine suburban breakthrough, the middle-class and increasingly diverse residents of high-growth suburbs around the country are just as responsive to this message as they were in the 1990s. And “quality of life” is not just an issue for Starbucks patrons, by any means. Indeed, Democrats need to rediscover their voice on the real-life concerns of working stiffs who worry as much about traffic, sprawl, property taxes, and overcrowded schools as they do about offshoring or globalization. Check it out.
TDS Strategy Memos
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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.