[guest post by JVW]
Yesterday afternoon, Saule Omarova asked the Biden White House to withdraw her nomination as head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, to which President Biden had tabbed her back in September, but her nomination had been controversial owing to some — shall we say — idiosyncratic views about the efficacy of certain economic policies of the former Soviet Union. When the White House made the formal nomination — in the immediate aftermath of the Democrats’ disastrous showing in the 2019 elections — they failed to allay fears that she would be a firm advocate for central planning even among Senate Democrats, and subsequently five Democrat Senators announced that they could not support her, thus bringing her candidacy to a screeching stop.
The failure of a high-profile Biden nominee, owing to her ability to assuage moderate Democrats that she isn’t merely a Kazakhstani-born version of Elizabeth Warren, is to our feeble and incurious media naturally the fault of the GOP. David Harsanyi at NRO catches the media unsurprisingly prevaricating about why the Omarova nomination failed:
[. . .] NPR claimed in a tweet that Omarova withdrew her nomination “after facing personal attacks about being born in the former Soviet Union.” The New York Times says that “lobbyists and Republicans painted her as a communist because she was born in the Soviet Union.”
These are lies. And neither outlet provides a single quote to back the assertion that Senate Republicans had personally attacked the Cornell professor over being “born in the Soviet Union.” Perhaps some of this confusion hinges on the fact that many in the media have tried to create the impression that Omarova is some kind of political refugee who escaped Soviet tyranny to come to the United States. That too was untrue, as it was happenstance that the exchange student found herself stranded in Wisconsin when the Soviet Union fell. She never defected.
Despite the claims of bozos like Dana Milbank, the media has in no way, shape, or form been harder on the Biden Administration than they were on the Trump Administration. And, in what should be an obvious corollary, the GOP opposition has not really behaved more viciously, partisanly, or unreasonably than Democrats did four years ago. Joe Biden, who appears to be mostly subcontracting his administration’s agenda out to the Bernard Sanders wing of the party, could have chosen among dozens — probably hundreds — of qualified center-left Democrats for this position. Why he saw the need to pick a law school academic (albeit one who had worked in private practice and in prior administrations) prone to musing about how for all of its gulags at least the USSR didn’t have a gender pay gap and flirting with the idea that perhaps the Federal Reserve should simply take over all bank deposits in the U.S. is only a mystery if you let yourself believe that he is truly making the decisions that go out under his name. Hopefully now Team Biden has determined that they have done as much as they can or should to placate the anti-capitalists in their party, and they can focus on being the centrist Democrats they claimed to be back in 2020.