Contemplating Elizabeth Warren
Premise: For 2016, the Democratic establishment has decided to go with the old, white woman with the ugly daughter and philandering husband, who played a major role in ending Pax Americana, and who has ammassed a modest fortune by giving speeches to Corporate sponsors. For the progressive Left who exulted in making history by electing an African American president, all of the significant Hispanic and Asian politicians are in the wrong party. The woman thing offers an encore and foreign policy doesn’t much matter, but Hillary’s Corporate sell-out is a bridge too far. So what are the alternatives?
Enter Elizabeth Warren – perhaps the only significant politician other than Rick Perry who is sincerely committed to reforming Wall Street. If there were any doubt about the leadership of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, it was dispelled at the recent NetRoots Conference – a less-developed version of the Conservative Political Action Conference – which brought out 3000 activist supporters screaming “Run, Liz, Run”! Understanding the audience and the optics, Hillary chose not to attend.
Warren does have a legitimate set of credentials: relatively self-made; working mother; Harvard Law professor (oops; been there, done that); chair of the outside panel of experts to implement the Troubled Asset Relief Plan (TARP) in 2009; driving force behind the creation of the Consumer Finacial Protection Agency in 2010; defeated Scott Brown for the “Kennedy Senate Seat” in 2012. There have been a few hiccups – like the resume-enhancing claim to be part Cherokee – but overall she has been circumspect.
Whether Warren mounts a challenge, or just provides the populist rhetoric for Hillary, she has her Eleven Points of slogans which bring rousing applause at all of her campaign speeches:
“1. We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we’re willing to fight for it.
3. We believe that the Internet shouldn’t be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality.
4. We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage.
5. We believe that fast-food workers deserve a livable wage, and that means that when they take to the picket line, we are proud to fight alongside them.
6. We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt.
7. We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions.
8. We believe—I can’t believe I have to say this in 2014—we believe in equal pay for equal work.
9. We believe that equal means equal, and that’s true in marriage, it’s true in the workplace, it’s true in all of America.
10. We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means reform.
11. And we believe that corporations are not people, that women have a right to their bodies. We will overturn Hobby Lobby and we will fight for it. We will fight for it!”
It is hard to imagine Warren being elected. Her place on the ticket would reinforce the Democrats as the party of the Northeast liberals. Those with longer memories will recall Michael Dukakis’ disasterous campaign against George H.W. Bush in 1988, and liberal George McGovern’s 1972 campaign against Dick Nixon in which he carried only Massachusetts and Washington D.C. Beyond that, where Michelle Obama would force schools to put brussel sprouts on school lunch menus, Elizabeth Warren leaves the “know-it-all” impression that she would force kids to actually eat them.
Politics is part message and part messenger. The difficulty for the Democrats is that Elizaberth Warren’s message excites the progressive left, but rings hollow from the mouth of Hillary Clinton.
This week’s video – a 2009 takedown of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner by Elizabeth Warren – demonstrates a significant anti-Wall Street agreement between the populist Left and the populist Right.