WHAT IS WARREN?

I've largely stayed out of discussing the many candidates vying for the Democratic nomination because, frankly, most of them are so indistinguishable that it legitimately does not matter to me which one of them comes out ahead. Mayor Pete vs. Kamala Harris vs. a cup of tap water? Who cares, you'll get the same outcome from any of them. Harris's sole saving grace as a candidate is that it would be fun to watch her yell at Trump in a debate. Her presidency would make Obama look like Trotsky, though. So I can't bring myself to care.

Warren is the one candidate I've expressed support for in the past, and the rash of Thinkpieces about her more recently just haven't been interesting. Mainstream Democrat calls her the Messiah; Leftist criticizes her for not being as Left as some people once thought she might be. It's boring.

With the understand that Biden is terrible and will be an unmitigated disaster should he win the nomination, here is my take on the other two parts of the Three Leading Candidates right now.

I like Sanders' ideas, and while I don't expect him to win anything I think he is crucially important to the Party that he hates and that hates him. Do you think every candidate is talking about Medicare for All today because of, what, Hillary Clinton? Rahm Emanuel? Sanders pulls the discourse away from the center, which is important because it has been drifting toward the center for nearly 30 years. Someone needs to remind these people that the Democratic Party used to stand for some things it no longer stands for, and that it has lost voters because of that. Now they want those voters back, but they are reluctant to listen to the guy who seems to get *how* to do that.

Warren is, in my view, at the most leftward part of the mainstream Democratic Party. She's not a Socialist, she's not some bomb-throwing would-be Independent. She's a pretty liberal Democrat, given a Democratic Party that frankly isn't very liberal at all anymore. She is, again in my opinion, about as far left as any candidate can be without having no chance to win. That's less a compliment to her than an indictment of the Democratic Party.

She has some obvious flaws, namely that harebrained DNA test thing. The best way to deal with that – here is advice she absolutely will not take – is to ignore it. Say "I responded to that back in January and I do not have anything more to add to what I said." Instead she'll probably apologize and explain endlessly, which will cause the media to press her on it repeatedly because getting a response out of a candidate makes them feel powerful.

On the plus side, she seems to have broad appeal to voters who don't care much about policy (they think she's sassy, or whatever, which is great; whatever people need to get motivated to vote I guess). She also will convert more Bernard Brothers than any other candidate. For the 10,000th time, most of them came around in 2016 and (grudgingly) voted for HRC despite what people in Facebook comment sections insist. Are you going to get all of them? Of course not. But compared to, say, Biden, she has a better chance to get them to – again, maybe grudgingly – vote for her.

Grudging doesn't matter if you're a candidate. Voters being thrilled about voting for you doesn't help. Still counts as one vote.

Warren seems like the only one of these candidates smart enough to not completely, explicitly alienate the Left by replicating the 2016 strategy of screaming at disgruntled primary voters that they were obligated to vote for the Most Qualified Candidate Ever. HRC 2016 wasn't really about anything, policy-wise. The campaign was about how bad Trump is and how great HRC is. Warren seems more likely to throw some policy bone at voters she knows she needs. Like, give them one thing you can default to when making the case; "You like _____ don't you? She's gonna do it!" may not be the best argument ever posited but it beats the hell out of "You are a racist sexist Bro, you suck and you HAVE TO vote for her." Objectively it's a better argument.

Hardly a ringing "endorsement," obviously. I've simply repeatedly lowered my expectations about politics to the point at which I recognize the gap between what I like and what is likely to happen. At least a Warren presidency would result in some low-visibility bureaucratic stuff that would be positive (reviving CFPB?) if nothing else. Won't get that out of any of the others, who all seem poised to piss away four hypothetical years on playing nice with Mitch McConnell.

Remember the instrumental nature of voting that I've talked about on my podcast a lot – this isn't an act that belongs at the top of Maslow's hierarchy. This isn't your heart and soul. It's not self-actualization. It's just a process, one in which you make the best decision you can. If you want to vote for (insert candidate), vote for him or her. Whatever. At the end of the day, though, I struggle to see any of these other candidates as someone who will do anything, anything at all, beyond keeping the seat warm and wasting four years. Maybe that's enough for you, but my rapidly plummeting expectations haven't gotten that low yet.

44 thoughts on “WHAT IS WARREN?”

  • Warren is the only one who has consistently put up plans. As moonshot as they might be, she's at least offering something. Bernie has his few tried and true plans, but no one else has offered up much of anything. Warren seems so obviously capable and heads and shoulders above everyone else, but we're a country that hates women so much we want to jail them for miscarriages. Like people will vote for a woman, even a woman without the stank of her cheaty mcbean husband all over her.

  • "Warren is the only one who has consistently put up plans"

    This is so ridiculous. Like whatever if Warren is your first choice but this is complete bullshit. Bernie has plans for Housing, medical and student debt forgiveness, Criminal justice, wealth tax, medicare for all etc. Again if Warren is your first choice thats your choice. I just don't understand why so many warren supporters think she's the only one "with plans" because shes selling t-shirts with "i have a plan for that" silkscreened on it.

  • Can we just admit that any Democratic president will probably achieve the same policy results in terms of what they control: mending international relations, vetoing stupid Republican legislation and nominating non-horrible people to be judges. The Senate is where marginal decisions about public policy are made and it is horribly broken and no candidate running for president can fix it any better than any other.

  • Well, thanks for the lukewarm endorsement of Warren. In fact, her origin story is pretty darn good (for a Democrat, at least). Her creation of the CFPB was essential to protect the working and middle class. She is incredibly engaging on a large crowd level (unlike HRC who I liked and knew and who was terrific on a personal level).

    Her policy platform is rich and important. If she gets nominated, it will be toned down and made more realistic but still pretty progressive. Trump, by contrast, if he isn't already completely demented and incoherent by this time next year, will have an utterly revolting campaign platform to defend (and likely an impeachment charge).

  • "Her policy platform is rich and important. If she gets nominated, it will be toned down and made more realistic but still pretty progressive. Trump, by contrast, if he isn't already completely demented and incoherent by this time next year, will have an utterly revolting campaign platform to defend (and likely an impeachment charge)."

    Very few Trump supporters have abandoned him. Hes revolting to almost nobody that matters to him. The way to win is to drive more people to the polls. A watered down "realistic" platform is NOT going to get people to vote. How the fuck have people not learned this?

  • I loves me some Bernie Sanders, but I'd be totally content with a Warren nomination. We don't have to convince a single Trump voter to switch sides, we just need like 20,000 more people in a few states to get to the polls. I think Warren can do that.

  • I've supported Warren and Harris all along. And I support Warren even more now, because the more she's gone out and shook hands and done meetings with actual voters (including Trump voters) she's constantly won them over in ways Bernie never did, has, or could.

    She's our last best chance for saving this country, if it deserves saving (an important quest!). She's definitely got my vote in the Washington State primary for whatever that's worth.

  • "Can't wait for the grudging phase."

    Oh, it's already here. The B Bros are going to find it remarkably easy to find "principled reasons" to vote Trump in for a second term, mark my words.

  • That “harebrained DNA test thing” is not an “obvious flaw” of Warren’s. It’s the obvious flaw’s chickens coming home to roost. Such a test, however it turned out, was long ago the sine qua non of any serious run for President, after years of Warren cashing on cultural identity theft, which leftist nabobs like Rachel Dolezal, sorry, Maddow were calling a matter of emotional allegiance and self-identification—in Warren’s case—as recently as a year or two ago. Warren had to lance the boil, then later hope to claim “Old News!”

    On the other hand, in Machiavellian terms, credit to Warren where credit is due. Sure, she still has to deal with terming herself a Native American on her official Texas bar ID shortly before the Ivy League came calling, short on and admittedly seeking and then boasting of professors Of Color. Well-played no matter what, because we’d almost certainly never even have heard of Warren absent her slimy identity politics gambit and subsequent tapdancing. Harvard doesn’t hire Rutgers Law graduates under ordinary circumstances.

  • Spoken like a man who's spent his career seeing that Fascism is Our Future!

    The Overseer of Vault #219B thanks you for your labor.

  • "Spoken like a man who's spent his career seeing that Fascism is Our Future!"

    May one assume that you are speaking of the previous commenter (I have no idea what Vault #219B is)?

    The troll is curiously silent on the merits of his current political and curltural hero.

    And he STILL has not been able to find the term paper that supports his accusation of Ed as being a supporter of Saudi Arabian terrorists.

  • I've been reading this blog since about '05 or '06 and always loved the mix of poli sci, strange facts, music, fake music art, etc. But I don't get your thinking about the '20 primary, it's like the poli sci part is just out the window. I keep seeing all these weirdo anti-Warren stuff show up in my twitter-feed, because it is liked by Mass for Shut-ins, and yeah, I know, I should just get off twitter. We all should. Anyway, all these candidates have records. Warren isn't the most left mainstream Democrat, she's the furthest left member of the senate, and has been since she was first elected. A senate that contains Sanders. Even Harris has a voting record to the left of Sanders (although everyone knows she's a neoliberal shill because her medicare for all plan is the actual, existing US medicare that includes Medicare Advantage-I know-an option to keep private insurance- and is phased in. And yeah, Sanders has a plan that is great, probably even better than that, but would require a massive overhaul of the current medicare system. Would you really be upset if Harris won, and we got the Harris medicare for all?)

    And I love Bernie, and voted for him in the primary last time, and he has great ideas, but he is also a pragmatist who voted for crappy '90s era criminal reform stuff and for modest advancements like the ACA, and could get smeared for all kinds of stuff, just like any candidate. Why not just enjoy that the major non-Biden options are all pretty damn good and pretty indistinguishable?

  • Couple of comments:

    Warren is from Oklahoma. I bet half the people in that state think they have native American ancestors. (Never mind the land rush). If you follow the ads for the DNA testing services they show people who thought they were one thing (family lore) and it turns out they're another. "I thought I was Irish, but turns out my ancestry is German." I have a friend who thought she was part native American on her father's side and mostly German on her mother's. This is what her mother told her (father died when she was a youngster). DNA test shows no native American and she's mostly Swedish and Danish.

    Harris seems to be the most pissed off about Trump. I love Warren. She's smart and capable and speaks coherently without notes. I'd vote for her in a second. But if the Democrats can win the Senate and Presidency Warren would be my pick for Senate **Majority** leader. I think that she could get more done there than as President.

    Mayor Pete, Beto and Julien Castro are very impressive and I'd like to see them get some more national experience and run again in 10 or 15 years.

    I like Bernie's ideas but two things bother me: he won't release his taxes and he is not a member of the Democratic party. And the Republicans have a vault of ****OMG SOCIALISM**** oppo research with which they're going to blanket social media and the airwaves. I'm glad he's pushing the other candidates towards historical Democratic party positions.

    Tom Steyer should fund some Democratic Senate Candidates. Beto should run for Senate (as should other low polling nationally, but popular in their state). We need to flip the Senate.

    I'm old enough to have watched the Watergate Hearings from start to finish. Senator Montoya would ask questions from his list he obviously wasn't familiar with them and did no followup. Senator Gurney was a mess too. But Sam Dash, the majority counsel was great, asking probing questions and building the case.

    The House should start continuous hearings and follow the Watergate model. Don't call it impeachment hearings. Build a case first. It will be harder to break through public opinion because we don't all watch Cronkite or Huntley-Brinkley anymore. But get it out there.

  • "You like _____ don't you? She's gonna do it!"

    I dunno, sounds like a pretty good argument to me, honestly. I mean, think about what it has to beat — "he's the candidate I want to have a beer with!" (about the trust fund kid who inherited an oil business from his dad); and the myriad of "we know the other candidate has good ideas, but he's not serious enough".

  • I've admired and respected Warren for 20 years, but I'm sorry to say she would likely lose to Trump. Everyone who's old enough to have voted a couple of times or more in presidential elections should understand that they are little more than popularity contests, and nerds don't win those. Warren is a nerd. It's what makes her so respectable to a lot of us, but it also makes her a unpalatable to others. High turnout is how Democrats win presidential elections, and the only way to achieve high turnout is by generating excitement. Truckloads of binders full of plans are not exciting, I'm sorry to say, however much I may agree with her plan in general.

  • I like that she just said, I am going to roll with Jay Inslee's climate plan. I think it shows that she doesn't mind recognizing other people's expertise. Plus we wouldn't have to worry about seeing Larry Summers' or Tim Geithners' running the administration financial policies.

    Oh and double down on what mm said. Almost everybody who lives in Oklahoma claims they're native american. If this is the worst thing they can find to bring up, then she is squeaky clean.

  • Now that you no longer write as frequently here, Ed, it's all the more valuable when you do. And here you've devoted all this space to Warren without mentioning her "electability" vs. the supposedly safe (male) candidate. Maybe her status in the polls answers that question. But the fact that you don't see it as problematic (women don't necessarily back other women as such) reassures me.

  • I don't see the whole Native American/DNA business making any difference to anybody except those who would never ever ever ever under any circumstances vote for Elizabeth Warren anyway. Sure, the "Pocahontas" slur is a real laff riot on townhall.com maybe, but I think it's a non-issue for one principal reason: its primary public advocate is a man whose reputation was built entirely on flim-flam and bullshit.

  • @mm As I've been pointing out for some time now: the president (if acting lawfully) has only limited influence over domestic affairs. Putting a zealous and competent legislative brawler in the white house is, frankly, a waste of talent. Sanders makes better use of the bully pulpit and, while he has just as many plans as Warren, has never proven as effective and knowledgeable a legislator as she.

    Everyone else on the stage is just a boring status quo placeholder that will keep voters on the couch.

    PS: The canard about socialism sinking Sanders in the general is nonsense. No one but republican base voters cares about that anymore.

    PPS: Sanders released ten years of tax returns quite some time ago. They're available on his campaign website.

  • Heaventree:

    Shorter you? It doesn’t matter to you. It does matter to the Cherokee leadership. And TDD, she didn’t just float the ancestry claim. She used it, and allowed herself to be used, for professional advancement under false pretenses for years. Identity-group fraud, insult and white privilege do indeed matter to young leftists and independents. Coupled with her marked policy reversals on important subjects from just a few years ago, and her pie in the sky promises now, she comes off as a rich, self-promoting populist fraud. Against an incumbent of the same description, she loses big absent a recession or bad war.

  • Well, Inkberrow, I live in a quite conservative area, and everybody here knows about Sen. Sanders's multiple parcels of real property, his wife's shenanigans, etc.; and the phrase "rich, self-promoting populist fraud" may well get spread around to more than one candidate.

  • Heaventree—

    Me too, and me too, and agreed. I was addressing Warren and whether her identity pandering and fraud will be a nothingburger from here.

  • I like ms Warren's message, but if she wins, even with a congressional majority, the .001% have been running disinformation for nearly a century and for half that time dismantling industrial infrastructure for fun, profit and class warfare, necessitating managing expectations. On the plus side, she doesn't seem to be committing the error of opening negotiations with what you're willing to settle for. BTW, any hope of convincing the DNC that it hasn't been 1972 in a very long time?

  • Sure would be ironic if Speaker Pelosi's FINALLY moving on impeachment knocks out the frontrunner for her party's presidential nomination, wouldn't it? Or is this some of that 11th dimensional chess we've heard so much about?

    Admitting that I like Warren personally and politically a lot more than Mrs. (and Mr. for that matter) Clinton, I still think that if she's nominated she'll be Hillary 2.0: technocratic, a little dull, and quite possibly another loser to He Who Shall Not Be Named. FSM help us all.

  • DNA test shows no native American

    I don't know where this trope comes from, but as far as I can tell, it's false.

    The DNA test said that she very likely has at least one NA ancestor, between six and ten generations back, which is not too far from her family's story.

    You might want to google that before you shout at me.

  • I look forward to your assessment following the Iowa caucuses when Mayor Pete has emerged as a one of the top 3 candidates. I agree, his policies hardly differ from anyone else in the field. But the way he talks about progressive values is different. He's found a way to to show how shared American values like faith, freedom and patriotism translate into liberal, rather than conservative, policies. In essence, he uses conservative language to talk about progressive ideas.
    Look at the way Fox News covers him. They're basically friendly. The other side is willing to listen to Mayor Pete. He's the one who is best suited to move the needle and to deliver the most overwhelming victory against Trump.
    Plus, Trump is scared to run against him. Just consider the optics of a flabby, old, orange man on a debate stage next to a young, fit war veteran whose command of several non-native languages are each better than Trump's command of English.

  • @ Joel Hanes:

    I think that mm is not talking about Ms. Warren in their comment.

    @ tim:

    Mayor Pete is a shitheel. I will happily pull the lever for him if he's the nominee, don't see it happening, though.

  • Joel–

    The "trope" comes from Warren's negligible DNA showing on Native heritage being the same or even less than most non-Native Americans in the first place. That's why she apologized.

    But if you're correct, shouldn't the Warren campaign be vigorously promoting a potential double whammy, namely the first woman AND the first Native American U.S. president?

  • Warren will be the nominee. She will win. And she will be fine. We need a boring, policy-focused president after the shit we're going through. She won't be able to fix every Trump mess. But unlike Biden, she can beat Trump and give us progressives a fair amount of what we've wanted all our lives. Biden is already finished. He doesn't know it yet.

  • @Tim, I don't see how anyone who receives "friendly" treatment from Fox could possibly be anything less than awful. Given his poll numbers, however, he's at best last year's model. Maybe run for governor of Indiana?

    Also, a not inconsiderable part of the electorate would love to see a flabby orange septuagenarian call a neoliberal empty suit like Buttigieg a (insert homophobic slur here) on national tv.

    @Mister Sterling, Ms. Warren is a distinguished legal professor and founded the now (basically) shuttered CFPB. She's better than Al Gore, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton put together. But imo a return to normalcy, even were she to be elected, would lead only to a smarter, "better" fascist president shortly thereafter. If things don't change radically, and very soon (I personally don't think they will) we're all fucked.

  • @geoff I completely agree with your reply to @Mister Sterling. I like Warren. She would turn out the base and she would win. But, I don't think she will she will change hearts and minds. Buttigieg is emphatically NOT a neoliberal. He holds the same progressive values that Warren does. He just talks about them differently. Check this out. He did a long form interview with Stephanie Ruhle at the Texas Tribune Festival yesterday. If you watch 5 minutes, you'll watch the whole thing.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOM2EOkBrAY

  • “Recently we had a campus visit day, the highlight of which is watching high school students try to act cool while walking around campus with their parents. As this is scientifically proven to be impossible, hilarity ensues.” So writes Ed at Gin and Tacos, a blog that reads as if it were written by a real person, not a meme aggregator with an RSS feed going in one year and out the other.

  • I have never met an individual from Oklahoma who did NOT claim to have some native american ancestry.
    Just as every one with Irish background claims to be descended from Kings or old line Australians claiming ancestry from the first fleet of prison ships.
    It is a bogus attack.

  • k—

    Absolutely. Same with plucky C. Thomas Howell in the family comedy “Soul Man”. He got into Harvard Law claiming to be Of Color too, and hilarity ensues when he’s the top pick for the intramural basketball team! But everybody does it. It’s a bogus attack.

  • Inky, pal:

    Every time I see your filth NOT appearing for a few days I assume that you've been busy finding the evidence for your claim that Ed is a big fan of terrorism, the Twin Tower bombers in particular.

    Sadly, it appears that you're just off having your endless supply of idiocy topped off,

    Can you share with anyone who might be interested in the process whether they open the hinged lid on your skull or just put a hose up your butt to top you off?

  • Inkbarrow
    No that movie with plucky C. Thomas Howell in the family comedy “Soul Man” would be more like adlled ronnie raygun claiming to have been in combat guring WW II, he and other hollywood chicken hawks ( john wayne) only saw combat on sound stages.
    Or more like perjurer poppa perjuring himself for 6 years on whether he had any notes from iran/contra then when caught in lie issueing pardons like confetti to keep people from testifying.
    Or the twit claiming he actually fulfilled his rotc service in the battle of tijuana brothels
    or
    Syphilitic donnie claiming he had bone spurs while comparing his battles with STD's( one he obviously lost to syphilis as he brain disintergrates) to combat in Viet Nam.
    No you like other thuglicans are intellectually dishonest, morally bankrupt and ethically absent.
    To paraphrase great american comedian
    "Go away boy your botherin me"

  • Pretty disappointing analysis, and quite a few factual errors. Not what I come here for. Your take on Warren is that of someone who hasn't paid attention to her in months then, apropos of her rising in the polls decides to write a rant about her without researching anything you're about to type.

    You've been wrong before, Ed, but this is just sloppy, lazy analysis.

  • @ paintedjaguar:

    To whit, I heard on a Revealnews podcast that Nixon's original war on drugs (TM) involved expanded addiction treatment and softened penalties for low level offenses. It didn't really take off as we know it until Reagan. Assuming Reveal wasn't bullshitting, this would put Nixon's drug policy to the left of pretty much the entire Democratic 2020 field (except Andrew Yang, which YEESH.)

    @ mm:

    Your thoughts re: Warren being senate majority leader seem pretty spot on to me. When both she and Sanders decided to pursue the 2020 nomination, I truly wondered if I wanted either of them to win and subsequently lose two of the most consistently progressive voices in the entirety of congress (let alone the senate). Who would replace them? And, with respect to foreign policy, we would be left with Rand fucking Paul (ugh) to at least try to reign our war-hawkishness, and that would probably be somewhat of a disaster.

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