EDITORIAL: Double standards at work

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Monday was a rather historic date in Washington, D.C.

It was the day that U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, finally decided that civility is a must on social media.

Portman announced that he would not be voting to confirm President Joe Biden’s pick for Office of Management and Budget director, Neera Tanden, due to her past posts on Twitter.
The tweets, which contained snarky jokes, such as “Vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz,” concerned Portman so much that he stated, “I believe that the tone, the content, and the aggressive partisanship of some of Ms. Tanden’s public statements will make it more difficult for her to work effectively with both parties in this role.”

Email newsletter signup

The announcement was a remarkable reversal form Portman’s previous stance.

In 2020, Portman was one of the first to endorse his party’s choice of Donald Trump for re-election to the highest office in the land.

This was despite years of Trump tweeting insults, feuds, conspiracy theories and every sort of uncivil statement imaginable.

Whether it was mocking job losses at companies that took issue with him, insulting the wife of a political opponent or promoting outlandish and false claims that television hosts had murdered an intern, Trump’s tweets received no real pushback from Portman.

In fact, the senator’s take on Trump’s posts was that taking time to scrutinize them left one “out of touch with the American people,” as he said on Meet the Press in 2017.

For the senator to suddenly decide, only now, during confirmations for the opposing party, that tone matters brings to mind the old catchphrase of Dana Carvey on Saturday Night Live: “How conveeeenient.”

Social media posts have gotten more than a few people in hot water and whether Tanden was over the line could be a valid debate.

But Portman, through his past silence, has erased any standing he could have had in such an argument. We urge him, going forward, to apply his standards to his own party as well, rather than only when it is politically opportunistic.

We should expect better from all and that requires everyone speaking out, regardless of party, at all times.