Tensions are brewing around some of President-elect Joe Biden’s picks…

Tensions are brewing around some of President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: ‘Enough is enough now’Senate approves two energy regulators, completing panelMurkowski: Trump should concede White House raceMOREs picks for key posts in his administration, with protesting voices raised on the left as well as among Republicans.
Two figures in particular are under scrutiny: Antony Blinken, Bidens choice for secretary of State, and Neera Tanden, the proposed head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Blinken is a longtime part of the foreign policy establishment, having served as deputy secretary of State in the Obama administration.
Highly regarded by colleagues, questions are nevertheless being asked about Blinkens role at WestExec Advisors, a consultancy firm whose clients remain opaque.
After Politico published a story last week referring to the firm as secretive, Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate GOP open to confirming Yellen to be Biden’s Treasury secretaryBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP SenateTrump’s NATO ambassador pledges ‘seamless’ transition to Biden administrationMORE (R-Texas) tweeted, I want to see what foreign countries, if any, they have worked for.
Blinken founded the firm in 2017, alongside Michèle Flournoy. Speculation is rife that Biden could choose Flournoy as his secretary of Defense.
Blinkens work for WestExec is the rare issue that puts a staunch conservative such as Cornyn and progressives on a similar page.
Transparency is critical, so definitely questions about Blinken and what clients are paying him that matters. The American people deserve to know, said Charles Chamberlain, chair of Democracy for America (DFA), a progressive group.
The fight over Blinken mirrors a long-standing fissure within the Democratic Party. Blinken, like Biden, was a supporter of the Iraq War, which a huge swathe of the Democratic grassroots vigorously opposed. More recently, he favored military intervention in Libya a move that helped oust dictator Moammar Gadhafi but plunged the North African nation into chaos from which it has not yet emerged.
Other voices sympathetic to the progressive movement have highlighted Blinkens backing of Saudi Arabia in its military actions in neighboring Yemen.
Institutionalists like Blinken have done tremendous damage, Sophia Tesfaye wrote in Salon. From supporting the invasion of Iraq to backing the Saudi war in Yemen, Blinken has championed some of the worst foreign policy decisions in recent U.S. history.
Progressive criticism often sits uneasily with Biden loyalists who note he won the Democratic nomination comfortably, vanquishing two of the lefts leading lights, Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP SenateOvernight Defense: Defense bill among Congress’s year-end scramble | Iranian scientist’s assassination adds hurdles to Biden’s plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fireBiden faces new Iran challenges after nuclear scientist killedMORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP SenateWarren, Brown voice support for controversial Biden budget office pickBiden’s economic team gets mixed reviews from Senate RepublicansMORE (D-Mass.), in the process.
There are also major foreign policy figures who extol Blinkens virtues. Samantha PowerSamantha Jane PowerFive things to know about Antony Blinken, Biden’s pick for StateBiden, Harris briefed by national security experts amid transition obstaclesSupport swells for renaming Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma to honor John Lewis after his deathMORE, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under former President Obama, referred to Blinken on Twitter as a great leader and an inspired choice. Susan Rice, who served in the same role, and also as national security adviser, predicted that Blinken would make a superb Secretary of State.
Some on the left also profess themselves fairly content with Bidens moves so far. Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, praised the selection of Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Mastercard – Coast-to-coast fears about post-holiday COVID-19 spreadBiden to nominate Neera Tanden, Cecilia Rouse to economic team: WSJMonumental economic challenges await Biden’s Treasury secretaryMORE as Treasury secretary, as well as Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey as members of Bidens Council of Economic Advisers.
He said Yellen had been willing to take on big banks in the past, and that Bernstein and Boushey had impeccable progressive bona fides.
The head of the OMB may not hold the same level of high prestige as secretary of State, but Tandens nomination has incited every bit as intense a firestorm.
A Cornyn spokesperson said on Sunday that she had zero chance of being confirmed by the Senate, citing her endless stream of disparaging comments about the Republican Senators whose votes shell need.
Josh Holmes, a GOP strategist and former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate approves two energy regulators, completing panelOn The Money: Biden announces key members of economic team | GOP open to Yellen as Treasury secretary, opposed to budget pick | GAO: Labor Department ‘improperly presented’ jobless dataSenate GOP open to confirming Yellen to be Biden’s Treasury secretaryMORE (R-Ky.), has suggested that Tandens nomination might be a sacrifice to the confirmation gods that is, a nominee that an incoming president knows will be rejected but who will draw heat away from other nominees.
The reaction to Tanden in some quarters of the left was even more apoplectic.
Briahna Joy Gray, who served as national press secretary for Sanderss 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted: Everything toxic about the corporate Democratic Party is embodied in Neera Tanden.
The personal tone was hardly surprising given Tandens long-standing zest for Twitter fights, especially with Sanders supporters and others on the left. But as Gray and others noted, her political history also includes an openness to cutting Social Security.
Chamberlain, the DFA chair, described her nomination as a big mistake.
He noted that there were a number of Biden picks who did please progressives, including Yellen for secretary of the Treasury.
His organization would be all-in for Yellen, he said but if Tandens nomination ran into trouble, good luck!
There is no way DFA is going to lift a finger for Neera Tanden to get any kind of position in this administration, he added.
Chamberlain also wondered aloud about the Biden administrations thinking. Knowing there would be tough fights with Republicans over nominees, why would you split the coalition of people you need to get through your appointments?
Some on the left have backed Tanden, however, including Warren and Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP SenateDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picksTop contender for Biden Defense chief would be historic pickMORE (D-Calif.).
Others praised some of Bidens picks and insisted the left had to be realistic.
Biden is going to select people who he is comfortable with and who align with his ideology and that isnt our people, said progressive strategist Jonathan Tasini. Thats just a fact.
For now, though, it looks like Bidens team already has some fights on its hands.
The Memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage, primarily focused on Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: ‘Enough is enough now’Murkowski: Trump should concede White House raceScott Atlas resigns as coronavirus adviser to TrumpMOREs presidency.