Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Warren Piece

We're in the midst of a by-gosh genuine boomlet, maybe two years too soon but still something to talk about, for Elizabeth Warren for president.

The mothership of this boomlet is a long must-read by Noam Scheiber in The New Republic: "Hillary's Nightmare? A Democratic Party That Realizes Its Soul Lies With Elizabeth Warren." It's counter-intuitive, maybe wishful thinking, yet somehow convincing:
All of which is to say, if Hillary Clinton runs and retains her ties to Wall Street, Warren will be more likely to join the race, not less. Warren is shrewd enough to understand that the future of the Democratic Party is at stake in 2016. At 64, she knows that if Hillary wins and populates yet another administration with heirs to Robert Rubin, it will be at least eight years before there’s another chance to reclaim the party. “She has an immense—I can’t put it in words—a sense of destiny,” says a former aide. “If Hillary or the man on the moon is not representing her stuff, and her people don’t have a seat at table, she’ll do what she can to make sure it’s represented.”
In any case, it's started a flurry of pieces from pundits who, perhaps already bored with GOP-only speculation, are looking for a contested Democratic 2016 race. (Remember, journalistas are storytellers and thus the REAL bias of the press is toward a good story.)

Chris Cillizza says Clinton should be scared...
As Clinton learned in 2008, a candidate that appeals to voters’ hearts can beat a candidate that appeals to their heads.  And Clinton, for all of her built-in advantages in a 2016 race, will be hard pressed to ever be the heart candidate of the party base. Elizabeth Warren would be that candidate the minute she signals her interest in running.
...and Ben White and Maggie Harberman say Wall Street should be scared.
A Warren candidacy, and even the threat of one, would push Clinton to the left in the primaries and revive arguments about breaking up the nation’s largest banks, raising taxes on the wealthy and otherwise stoking populist anger that is likely to also play a big role in the Republican primaries.
 In a similar vein, Joshua Green notes that Clinton's very strength is Warren's opportunity.
What Clinton lacked in 2008 and appears to still lack today is an overarching rationale for why she should be president. Casting herself as inevitable flopped. The speeches she’s given recently on protecting voters’ rights, while laudable, haven’t cohered into anything larger.

In a legislature too divided to pass laws, Warren’s power in the Senate has been using her celebrity to set the agenda, at least on financial matters. The mere suggestion that she would go after Summers led him to drop out. That power would be magnified manyfold in a Democratic primary, especially against a front-runner so vulnerable in this area. If Warren were to issue a platform, her policies would almost certainly become a litmus test in the eyes of Democratic primary voters for what constitutes a true Democrat. Clinton would have no choice but to co-opt them—but doing so would also supply the purpose she has always lacked as a presidential candidate.
Ezra Klein says the difficulty for Warren is less Clinton's strength and more about getting her issue up front.
The danger for Clinton is if Warren is able to persuade Democrats that cracking down on Wall Street reform is the key to helping the middle class or -- perhaps more plausibly -- opposing inequality. On a policy level, that's a harder case to make. But on an emotional, who's-on-your-side level, it might work.
Warren's age is significant: It makes 2016 her one and only shot but more big-picture significant it makes age a non-factor in a race against Hillary Clinton.  I've seen a real tension between political women who came of age in the first feminist generation and younger women born in the 70s and 80s. (You can see this in relief in Monica Vernon vs. Anesa Kajtazovic). But Warren is less than two years younger than Clinton, which factors that out in a way it wouldn't if the challenger were, say, 40something Kristen Gillibrand.

I may just be seeing what I want to see here - an actual contested nomination with a path that runs through Iowa -  but if that's true so are all these other writers.

Cillizza does note one factoid that everyone else is ignoring because, as Cracked noted earlier this week, the first film blows a huge plot hole in the sequel. Warren, along with every other female Democratic senator, signed on to a letter urging Clinton to run.

But even as we're listening to Chris Christie denying higher ambition, I've never once seen candidates held to pledges or commitments like this. Politicians are asked about their higher ambition and even the most naive apolitical observer expects to hear "I'm fully committed to doing my job as dog catcher for East Pole Bean County." It's like saying "Gee, Mrs. Cleaver, that Brussel sprout pie was delicious, I'm just too full for another piece." No one believes it and it would only be notable if someone said the opposite.

In 1990 Bill Clinton pledged to serve his full term as governor. In 2005 Barack Obama said he was not interested in running for president. Things change. Didn't hurt them.

No comments: