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Republican criticism of Biden's Cabinet shows GOP's Trump amnesia is spreading

Early GOP criticism of picks like Neera Tanden and Xavier Becerra prove Democrats must be willing to fight fire with fire in 2021.
Image: Neera Tanden, Xavier Becerra
Neera Tanden and Xavier Becerra.Getty Images

An avalanche of amnesia is about to sweep through the Republican Party.

Case in point: Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

Responding to President-elect Joe Biden's nomination of Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget last week, Cornyn said her "combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators on Twitter created a "problematic path." He went so far as to characterize Tanden as "radioactive."

Hiding behind Neera Tanden's Twitter feed to dismiss her nomination is nothing short of hypocritical.

While there is plenty of criticism both the left and the right could level against Tanden, hiding behind her Twitter feed to dismiss her nomination is nothing short of hypocritical.

Get ready for a lot more of this. After having spent four years refusing to answer or acknowledge the dumpster fire that is the current president's Twitter feed, Republicans in Congress now have the audacity to try to use the tweets of Biden nominees against them.

Interestingly enough, just six months ago, when confronted by reporters about a tweet from President Donald Trump that baselessly promoted yet another conspiracy theory, Cornyn simply walked away. When asked about it later on, he replied, "You know a lot of this stuff just goes over my head."

Are we really to believe that tweets from the leader of the free world go over Cornyn's head — but somehow, tweets from Tanden don't?

When Trump posted a tweet threatening to postpone the election, Cornyn defended it as a joke designed to make the media's "heads explode."

One has to wonder how Cornyn would feel if, during a confirmation hearing, Tanden explained that her tweets were similar attempts at humor, perhaps to make conservative pundits' "heads explode."

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Then there was that time Cornyn quoted fascist dictator Benito Mussolini on his own Twitter page. I would wager Tanden has never quoted or promoted anyone who sided with Adolf Hitler.

Apparently, Cornyn believes "insulting" a member of Congress makes you unfit to serve in the executive branch. And yet, there was Trump calling Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a liar and a cheat in January and labeling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., "dumb as a rock." In October he called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "crazy." (And don't get me started on the names he used for his Republican challengers during the 2016 election.)

Cornyn is unwilling to hold the president of the United States to the same standard of scrutiny that he is trying to hold Biden's nominees to. Somehow, Tanden's tweets are disqualifying, but Trump's tweets aren't.

Such hypocrisy is an embarrassment but not at all surprising. It is a prelude of what we can expect going forward from Republicans in Congress. They will do everything they can to pretend the last four years didn't happen. That it was some kind of liberal mirage that they had no hand in enabling or fueling.

Don't let Republicans rewrite history. We can't allow them to impose a standard of decency, morality or scrutiny that they refused to hold Trump or his Cabinet to literally for years. An apology is perhaps too much to ask, but Democrats need to make sure the GOP doesn't forget the past.

Every time a Republican senator discusses conduct unbecoming a would-be representative of Biden's presidency, Democrats need to respond with a laundry list of Trump's and his Cabinet's unethical, immoral and even dangerous actions.

Every time a Republican senator feigns outrage or concern over a nominee's qualifications, Democrats need to reply in kind with outrage over that senator's refusal to scrutinize the many red flags in the backgrounds of Trump's nominees. Already, we're seeing Republicans push back against Xavier Becerra, Biden's pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Never forget that the Senate voted to confirm Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobile, to be secretary of state — not to mention Rick Perry to lead the Energy Department and Betsy DeVos to lead the Education Department.

Some Republicans may believe that Biden's push for unity and a return to normalcy is a sign of weakness. Certainly, many don't share his vision for a return to bipartisanship. Republicans think they can weaponize Biden's professionalism against him while trying to wash away the stain of their silence during these past four years.

Senate attacks against Neera Tanden and Xavier Becerra are just a taste of this strategy. Democrats must be willing to fight fire with fire if they are going to be successful. Luckily, there's more than enough ammunition to go around.