Sen. John Kennedy, Louisiana Republican, said Wednesday that Neera Tanden called Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont “everything but an ignorant slut” in her past confrontations with the democratic socialist.
“I have to tell you, I’m very disturbed about your personal comments about people,” Mr. Kennedy told Ms. Tanden, who is President Biden’s pick to lead the White House budget office. “And it’s not just one or two — I think you deleted about a thousand tweets.”
“The comments were personal,” he said. “I mean, you called Sen. Sanders everything but an ignorant slut.”
“That is not true,” said Ms. Tanden, who says she now regrets her past attacks on people across the political spectrum.
Mr. Kennedy repeatedly asked whether Ms. Tanden meant her past attacks.
“Senator, I must have meant them, but I really regret them,” she finally said.
“I want the record to reflect that I did not call Sen. Sanders an ignorant slut,” Mr. Kennedy then said.
“I don’t know how I should take that, Sen. Kennedy,” Mr. Sanders replied.
Mr. Kennedy almost certainly was referring to a recurring joke on the “Weekend Update” segment on the late-1970s original cast of “Saturday Night Live.”
“Anchor” Jane Curtin and “manager” Dan Aykroyd would do “Point/Counterpoint,” a parody of a “60 Minutes” segment from the time. Ms. Curtin would go first and lace her debate points with personal attacks, and then Mr. Aykroyd would invariably begin his rebuttal with “Jane, you ignorant slut.” That line also later became an in-joke catch-phrase elsewhere on the show.
Earlier at Ms. Tanden‘s confirmation hearing before the Senate Budget Committee, Sen. Lindsey Graham offered up a few of Ms. Tanden‘s past attacks on Mr. Sanders, including: “Oddly, when Russia was trying to elect Trump they did not attack Bernie Sanders — they chose to help him.”
She has also likened Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to Voldemort, the villain from the Harry Potter series.
Democrats say Republicans are the last people who should be griping about mean tweets, given the lengths congressional Republicans would go to feign ignorance about former President Trump’s perpetual social media broadsides over the last four years.
• Victor Morton contributed to this report