Elizabeth Warren: a more inspired choice than Hillary?

Dec 10, 2013
Charles Laurence

As Republicans dig for dirt on Hillary Clinton, have they got the wrong blonde in their sights?

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

AMERICA'S Republicans have unleashed the dogs of pre-emptive war against Hillary Clinton, the presumed Democrat candidate in a presidential election still two years away. There will be no Christmas truce this year.

The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Pliebus, boasted to the host of a political radio show that his “oppo-research” department was already digging for dirt on Clinton.

He was excited, for instance, to have found that when Clinton was long ago in charge of health care reform, she made the same promise that an American could always keep a health insurance policy if they liked it that landed President Obama in the smelly stuff when it proved to be false.

Is that the best they can do? The Republicans might be aiming their muck-spreaders in the wrong direction.

There is a new mood of economic populism coming into focus, and a new face to put on it. The face is that of a blonde female Democrat who is not Hillary Clinton.

Elizabeth Warren has been Senator for Massachusetts for less than a year since winning Ted Kennedy’s old seat in the 2012 elections. She is 64 years old, has two children, is on her second marriage, and is a career academic who was a professor at Harvard Law School when she decided to run for office.

So far, she says flatly that she has no intention of running for the presidency. (And, of course, Hillary is still refusing to commit.)

But there is a reason why the idea will not go away. Warren, the author of books titled The Two Income Trap: Why American Mothers and Fathers are Going Broke, and The Fragile Middle Class: Americans in Debt, has become the most persistent, sharpest and best informed critic of the contemporary capitalist culture behind the crisis of America’s widening income gap. 

Her academic specialty is bankruptcy, and she has long been after the banks and the profit-hungry corporations. In the Senate, her latest proposal is to increase social security.

Last week, New Republic magazine crystalised the new mood under the headline: 'Hillary’s Nightmare? A Democratic Party That Realises Its Soul Lies With Elizabeth Warren'.

“It’s hard to look at the Democratic Party these days and not feel as if all the energy is behind Warren,” wrote Noam Scheiber. “Before she was even elected, her fund-raising e-mails would net the party more cash than any Democrat’s besides Obama or Hillary Clinton."

Scheiber pointed readers towards a website called Upworthy, which packages online videos with clever headlines. Obama barely registers on the site; Warren’s videos go viral. A speech given by Warren during the recent budget stalemate in Congress - 'A SENATOR BLUNTLY SAYS WHAT WE'RE ALL THINKING ABOUT THE OBNOXIOUS GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN' - got more than two million views.

Scheiber went on: “The poll numbers also suggest the Democratic Party is becoming Elizabeth Warren’s party. Gallup finds that the percentage of Democrats with 'very negative' views of the banking industry increased more than five-fold since 2007, while the percentage who have positive views fell from 51 to 31. Between 2001 and 2011, the percentage of Democrats who were dissatisfied with the 'size and influence of major corporations' rose from 51 to a remarkable 79."

Not every Democrat's soul lies with Warren however, which was why Business Insider suggested in an article yesterday that the Democratic Party is poised to slide into a “civil war” just like the Republicans as new “populists” battle the entrenched ‘Third Way’ Clintonites.

“It doesn't yet have the panache and organisation of the Republican Party's internal split,” wrote Brett LoGiurato, “but some liberal groups think that the divisions among the Democratic Party will embroil the party through the next two big election cycles in 2014 and 2016.

"The divisions have sprung up over a period of several months. In the Democratic Party, populism is on the rise. Warren's ideas and beliefs — frustration with Wall Street, stagnating middle-class wages, and rising income inequality, among others — are at the forefront of that ideology.”

For Salon, Alex Parene pointed out that “Warren, who has repeatedly said she isn’t running, would face tough odds in a campaign against the better-funded, more-famous Hillary Clinton.”

But, he went on, the new populist agenda is certain to challenge the Clinton ascendancy.

“Which brings us to the probable face of the insurgency,” he wrote. “In addition to being strongly identified with the party’s populist wing, any candidate who challenged Clinton would need several key assets.

"The candidate would almost certainly have to be a woman, given Democrats’ desire to make history again. She would have to amass huge piles of money with relatively little effort. Above all, she would have to awaken in Democratic voters an almost evangelical passion. As it happens, there is precisely such a person. Her name is Elizabeth Warren.”

Whatever her ambitions or reservations, Warren is the perfect candidate to usher in the end of the 'Obama era'. If it had not been for exactly the kind of weakness, backsliding and two-faced dealing that has disillusioned the majority of Obama’s once dedicated supporters, few would ever have heard of her.

Back in 2008 when Obama wore his own “populist” mantle and there were votes to be won in bashing the bankers who had precipitated the Great Recession, he appointed Warren to start-up a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with teeth.

She did too well. As Vanity Fair recorded in an admiring profile in 2011, the Chamber of Commerce and 850 other banks and business trade groups paid $1.3 billion to Washington lobbyists to fight the reforms and the agency she had been hired to devise.

Obama backed down. As he announced the launch of the new Bureau in a ceremony on the White House lawn, he effectively fired her by giving the job of running it to someone else. He then, as Vanity Fair observed, planted a “Judas kiss” on Warren’s check.

Warren made little fuss in public, but she did not give up the fight. She went back to Boston and launched her campaign for the Senate. From that moment on she has raised “evangelical passion” among a broadening array of supporters. The lady has class, not to mention balls.

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With LoGiurato's article in Business Insider we see the beginnings of what you are also starting to see on conservative websites, the "Democrats are having their own civil war just like us Republicans" meme.
Hogwash. The Democratic party base, overwhelmingly as illustrated by poll after poll on the issues, was already firmly camped in the ideological territory most eloquently articulated by Sen. Warren. As others have already pointed out, the Democratic party is now fighting against Clinton-era ideas, not personalities. Third Way and their ilk -- a faction of party apparatchiks at best -- have already lost, though they may only now be realizing it.
That said, the longer H. Clinton stays silent on these issues, the more she becomes associated by default and by name with the "New Democrat" syncophants of Wall Street. Playing it safe won't do. If she doesn't wake up, and soon, the prospects for her coronation will start to cloud up.

There exists a snag. Who is going to fund her campaign? certainly not Wall Street, it is not in their best interest. Banks? ditto. Wallmarts? ditto. Monsanto? ditto. All the campaign money will spill into the Republican coffers. Washington is in dead-lock; Big Money rules America.

...from a safe distance, in England, and being relatively ill-informed on American matters politic, I can only make one comment - that is my distaste for Hillary Clinton on a personal level. During a Presidential candidate race she claimed that she had "come under fire" in Bosnia or some such place, during the Balkans conflict.

Upon being challenged on that claim, she retracted it and claimed to have "mis-spoken" (whatever that word is supposed to mean?) - retracting her claim to have "come under fire".

Does the most powerful nation in the world really want a "mis-speaker" as its leader? (Or would the word "liar" be more appropriate?). Surely we have more than enough "mis-speakers" in politics as it is?

LL - possibly as Howard Dean showed in 2004 (before his "I have a scream" moment, for brits think of Kinnock's "oh Yeah!" gaffe back in the 90s) - and BO in 2008 - crowd sourcing.
If the wiki generation haven't yet woken up to the fact that BigBizBuck$ ain't their friend - with frendz like BO who needs enemies - then we oldies can justly pull the blankets up a bit higher and thanks the gods we are on the way out.

Thoughts on an all-female Dem ticket in 2016? Clinton-Warren?

If she can ignite the "evangelical passion" mentioned in the article she may be able to raise enough.

Don't use words like "apparatchiks", nobody knows what that means and you come off looking like a douchey show off.

If that's the well spring of your distaste for HC, some minor mis-speak from years ag,o then you may want to get out more.

I would love to see her being the next president.

She's a woman, and it's about time a woman got to drive that seat, she's smart, I'd like to see a banker try and pull the wool over her eyes once she's sitting at that desk. I'd pay money to sit in that conversation.

She knows what the real issues are and she has to stones to take on the big interests. Capital has been winning everything for too long already. It's about time the rest of the country got a slice of the pie.

Dictionaries are available.

Lots of people know what an apparatchik is. (A mindlessly loyal follower, like they had in the Soviet Union). You are confusing "Nobody knows", with "I don't know". It's much less douchey to just use the google and find out what an unfamiliar word means.

She is the only politician I can think of that I would gladly write a check to.

Each to his own, Tank - but minor mis-speaks have a habit of coming back to bite you on the backside. HC has form for this - I would not want to vote for someone who I could not, ultimately, trust to tell the unvarnished truth.

Let's face it, the 1%ers, in America, have scooped the bounty pool; they can meet the Wiki kids dollar for dollar, bleed them dry, and then come in with the big guns firing. The only hope for "Chimerica" is for the electorate to wake up and realise that they are actually keeping "Chimerica" afloat..They should realise that the fat cats have become rich on the backs of the 99%ers toil. Same here of course.

now watch the neoliberal american media put a knife in her back...it'll be The Night of The Long Knives all over again....

Warren would never go for it. Hilary is a big money sellout just as much as pretty much all of congress is. Screw Hillary, I'm on the Warren wagon now.

Well then you would never vote in the U.S.. There is no such thing as unvarnished truth in our politics. Sad thing is, we know and expect that they will lie to us. They lie to us to get us into wars, they out CIA agents and then lie about it. How much more dastardly does it get. Then we elected the moron a second time. American voters are our own worst enemy. We let small groups of uniformed idiots choose for us.

that is true, but corporate america can outspend all of us combined. And you know they will against her. Hell, even the left will go after her.

Hello James - yes, you speak for most potential voters in the UK as well - all that we can hope for is to elect the best of a bad job.

I am sure that it doesn't have to be this way but, it seems, human nature dictates that we should lie to each other.

Has any politician ever made it his or her mission in life to tell the truth? Interesting concept.

if your arguing that not getting money from people/groups who large quantities of people dislike in her attempt to get those same large quantities of people to vote for her, i think your going to have a tough time.

but we the people vote.

We need a bonafide Injun in the Oval office.

I don't think it needed to be said that she has "balls". That's part of the point... she's a woman. She does not have balls. One does not need balls to be aggressive in their beliefs and convictions. Someday that phrase will be eradicated, because it promotes the idea that only men (with balls) could be courageous.

In the event that she puts herself forward, I agree,she will have a tough time..Should she decide to tread this course, I wish her well.

Even Jeremy Paxman confessed to Russell Brand that he did not vote in the last election.

Just how they succeeded with Obama; he for being only half white - for her, it would be because she is a woman. Congress, the media, and a significant number of Americans, prefer white cowboys.

Now your talking - my thoughts exactly. Justice!