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The radicals: Five firebrand Biden nominees and appointments

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 2/15/2021 Katherine Doyle
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Candidate Joe Biden appealed to voters as a deal-minded moderate and experienced Washington hand. While many of the now-president's nominees and appointments so far have been seasoned Beltway pros, others have raised eyebrows.

Here is a list of Biden’s most controversial picks to date.

Kristen Clarke

Biden’s pick to lead the Justice Department's civil rights division apologized last month for past comments on racial superiority and for hosting an event with a professor who espoused anti-Semitic views while a student at Harvard University.

In 1994, as the leader of Harvard University’s Black Student Association, Clarke invited the late Wellesley College professor Tony Martin to speak at an event where he attacked Jewish people for a “tradition” of targeting blacks.

Amid criticism, Clarke defended Martin, stating, “Professor Martin is an intelligent, well-versed black intellectual who bases his information of indisputable fact,” according to a report in the student newspaper, the Harvard Crimson.

That same year, Clarke, citing neuroscientist Carol Barnes, co-authored a letter to the paper arguing that black people had “superior physical and mental abilities,” and that melanin skin pigment “endows blacks with greater mental, physical, and spiritual abilities–something which cannot be measured based on Eurocentric standards.”

In January, Clarke apologized, telling the Forward that hosting Martin “was a mistake,” as was defending him.

Asked to disavow Martin and his views, Clarke told the outlet, “I do, 100%. I unequivocally denounce antisemitism.”

Her letter about racial superiority was intended to skewer a study purporting to tie intelligence to race with an equally “absurd claim that Black people are superior based on the melanin in their skin,” she said.

She defended signing a petition to support Women’s March co-President Tamika Mallory, who was forced to resign amid charges of anti-Semitism and a refusal to condemn Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

Neera Tanden

Tanden’s nomination was charged from the start.

She would be the first woman of color and the first South Asian person to run the Office of Management and Budget, but years of indelicate social media broadsides have pitted her against Republicans and members of her party.

Tanden “sucks up a lot of the oxygen. There’s some obvious pitfalls, both in her very contentious relations with the 'Berniecrat' progressive Left of the party, and, of course, in her contentious relations with Republicans," a Democratic source told the Washington Examiner, referring to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Among several issues at stake for progressives: Tanden’s liberal think tank, the Center for American Progress, funded by a deep well of corporate and foreign sponsors — from donors such as Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and the United Arab Emirates.

“I’ve spent so much time trying to admonish my fellow progressive friends not to fixate on one person ... but I’m most concerned about the possible dangers that come with Neera Tanden as head of the OMB,” said one Democratic policy adviser, pointing to criticism over her ties to big donors.

Tanden is accused of punching a reporter in the chest, though she disputes the charge, claiming in an interview in 2019, “I didn’t slug him, I pushed him.”

While atop CAP, Tanden failed to adequately handle sexual harassment allegations at the think tank after she outed the alleged victim “in front of the entire organization,” several former staffers have said.

Xavier Becerra

Biden’s pick for health and human services secretary has been labeled “a true radical on abortion” by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, one indicator of the opposition he is expected to face appearing before senators as his nomination moves forward.

The former Los Angeles congressman’s support for single-payer healthcare and limited experience in the field makes him an unusual choice to lead the department. But his views on the lightning-rod issues of abortion, universal healthcare, immigration, and coronavirus lockdowns are likely to face the strongest probes.

“What Becerra lacks in public-health experience,” Cotton wrote last month, “he makes up for in enthusiasm for his party’s most radical views.”

Becerra “doesn’t really have experience in Health and Human Services other than the fact that he had a big lawsuit against a group out in California and was a heavy campaigner for ‘Medicare for all,’” Marshall Auerback of the Bard Levy Institute told the Washington Examiner in a previous interview about Biden’s picks.

Wendy Sherman

Sherman, who Biden has selected for the number two position at the State Department, is a veteran of the Obama and Clinton administrations, spending four years as the lead negotiator of the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran. Biden has vowed a return to the deal after former President Trump exited midway through his term.

In 2009, she defended then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s failure to publicly raise human rights issues during a trip to China.

The United States “had some human rights problems of our own,” citing, as one example, Guantanamo Bay, Sherman said in a television interview.

Sherman has been with Albright Stonebridge, co-founded by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, since its formation in 2009. ASG bills itself as a “commercial diplomacy firm” and represents multinationals and other organizations doing business in the U.S. and around the world, including companies that have been under investigation, including for corruption.

One client, Swiss mining and commodities giant Glencore, came under fire in 2012 for doing business via barter with Iran, supplying thousands of tons of alumina to a company with ties to Tehran’s nuclear program.

Sherman will likely face opposition from senators over her role in the Iran deal, which Republicans and some Democrats opposed.

Anita Dunn

Dunn, a senior adviser to the president, is viewed with trepidation even by Democrats, not only because she claims to bear grudges for the president “like an Irishman.” Others have balked at her assertion that Mao Tse-tung was “one of her favorite philosophers.”

Biden’s longtime political confidant, dubbed the “political mastermind” behind his 2020 election win, is viewed as an expert in crisis communications.

She assisted disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein before the New York Times revealed numerous instances of sexual abuse by Weinstein.

This week, with other top White House officials, she coordinated the administration’s response to a senior press aide who had threatened a reporter.

Dunn briefly served as communications director during former President Barack Obama’s first term, before exiting the White House for an outside Democratic firm, challenging the administration’s policies on behalf of corporate interests, making her the scourge of progressives.

Tags: News, White House, Joe Biden, Biden Administration, Neera Tanden

Original Author: Katherine Doyle

Original Location: The radicals: Five firebrand Biden nominees and appointments


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