Why I Was Wrong About Elizabeth Warren

And her growing popularity suggests others are coming around, too.

As the Democratic presidential campaign began, I was deeply skeptical of Elizabeth Warren.

My first objection was that she appeared to have parlayed possible Native American heritage to gain academic jobs (Harvard Law School listed her as Native American beginning in 1995). That offended me, and I knew it would repel huge numbers of voters.

Second, I thought she shot from the hip and, with her slight political experience, would wilt on the campaign trail.

Third, I thought she was a one-note Sally, eloquent on finance but thin on the rest of domestic and foreign policy.

So much for my judgment: I now believe I was wrong on each count, and her rise in the polls suggests that others are also seeing more in her. Warren has become the gold standard for a policy-driven candidate, and whether or not she wins the Democratic nomination, she’s performing a public service by helping frame the debate.

Let’s examine my misperceptions. First, The Boston Globe conducted a rigorous examination of Warren’s legal career, and it is now clear that she never benefited professionally from Native American associations.

“The Globe found clear evidence, in documents and interviews, that her claim to Native American ethnicity was never considered by the Harvard Law faculty, which voted resoundingly to hire her, or by those who hired her to four prior positions at other law schools,” the newspaper concluded.

Then there’s the concern about political naïveté and inexperience. Warren first ran for office only in 2012; even Pete Buttigieg has been in elective politics longer.

It’s reasonable to worry about her electability, partly because last year she won re-election in Massachusetts as senator with a smaller share of the popular vote than Hillary Clinton had received two years earlier in the state. In contrast, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota hugely outperformed Clinton.

I worried about a tendency to shoot from the hip when Warren misread an article and in 2016 wrote a Facebook rant denouncing a supposedly greedy Trump-supporting investor, Whitney Tilson. In fact: Tilson opposed Trump and agrees with Warren on most issues; indeed, Tilson had previously donated to Warren.

The unbalanced screed resembled a Trump tweet and made me wonder about Warren’s judgment. But Warren later apologized, and she has been more careful since. Tilson told me that he thinks the rant was not part of a pattern but perhaps reflected a sleep-deprived moment.

More broadly, Warren has improved tremendously as a politician. Early on, she sometimes came across as a stern Harvard professor eager to grill you about an obscure tort case. She’s now much better on the hustings. Forget the tort case and Harvard Law; she’s an Oklahoma gal who wants to have a beer with you.

Finally, I was manifestly wrong on Warren’s policies. She has been a geyser of smart proposals, including one I particularly like for universal child care. This would resemble the outstanding child care program operated by the U.S. military and would benefit both working moms and at-risk kids.

Warren also has a range of other proposals, pertaining to everything from election reform to housingantitrust to corporate governance. Then she offers a wealth tax to help pay for social programs.

One of America’s biggest problems is the collapse of the working class and the lower middle class, with suicide at a 30-year high and drug and alcohol abuse causing life expectancy to fall. Warren confronts that crisis head-on both with her personal story and with sharp policies to boost opportunity. Her 2017 memoir, “This Fight Is Our Fight,” is that rarity of campaign books: a decent read.

Warren’s proposals might or might not succeed, but they are serious, based on work by top scholars. She is a believer in a market economy, regulated to keep it from being rigged, and in corporations that contribute to the well-being of all. And while she’s no expert on foreign policy, her instincts on avoiding war with Iran and showing concern for Palestinians seem good ones.

At her best, Warren is also brilliant at shaping the narrative. In 2011, she explained why taxing the rich isn’t “class warfare.”

“There’s nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody,” she said in a clip that went viral. “You built a factory out there? Good for you! But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces the rest of us paid for.”

She ended: “You built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless! Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay it forward for the next kid who comes along.”

That’s a conversation we need to have in America, and I’m glad Warren is getting attention so that she can make her case.

How Elizabeth Warren Learned to Fight

She was Betsy to her mother, who expected her to marry. Liz to fellow high school debaters, whom she regularly beat. Now, the lessons of an Oklahoma childhood are center stage in the presidential race.

OKLAHOMA CITY — It was 1962 in Oklahoma City and Liz Herring, a new student at Northwest Classen High School, was feeling insecure. She was good at school, had skipped a grade, and now, as a skinny freshman with glasses and crooked teeth who had grown up in a town south of the capital, she was hungry to fit in.

She joined the Cygnet Pep Club to show her school spirit and the Courtesy Club to help visitors find their way around the school. She became a member of the Announcers Club, reading messages over the school’s central sound system. But it was the debate club where she really found herself. At a time when Home Ec and preparing for marriage were priorities for young women, debate was a place where they could compete on equal ground.

She loved learning about the big topics of the day — Medicare, unions, nuclear disarmament. She began carrying around a large metal box with hundreds of index cards with quotes and facts written on them.

She was competitive and had extraordinary focus and self-discipline, spending hours after school each day practicing. Joe Pryor, a high school friend and debate teammate, remembers her “ruthlessness in preparation.” By the time they were juniors, he said, “she was just flat out better than me.”

FOX NEWS FIRST: Warren’s DNA reveal backfires, angers Dems; Missing Saudi activist’s kin wants independent probe

Democrats are not thrilled that Sen. Elizabeth Warren has released DNA tests to prove her Native American ancestry and fear the controversy throws the party off-message before the midterm elections

THE LEAD STORY – DEMS ON WARPATH OVER WARREN’S DNA TEST: U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., might have believed that releasing DNA test results that apparently prove her Native American heritage would show up President Trump and other Republican critics and put the controversy to rest. However, it has only breathed new life into the story and angered fellow Democrats who fear a blue wave may not happen in next month’s midterm elections … President Obama’s former campaign manager, Jim Messina, on Monday sharply criticized Warren, saying she was throwing the Democratic Party off-message just weeks before November’s critical midterm elections. “Argue the substance all you want, but why 22 days before a crucial election where we MUST win house and senate to save America, why did @SenWarren have to do her announcement now?,” Messina tweeted. “”Why can’t Dems ever stay focused???”

Meanwhile, the Cherokee Nation dismissed Warren’s DNA test, saying, it “is useless to determine tribal citizenship.” Warren, considered a likely 2020 presidential contender, is an overwhelming favorite to win re-election in Massachusetts in November.

Trump promised $1 million to charity if Warren proved her Native American DNA. Now he’s waffling.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had said she would not “sit quietly” as President Trump made claims about her ancestry that she called racist. On Monday morning, she released a DNA testthat suggested she did have a distant Native American ancestor, and by the evening, she was using the ensuing dust-up to attack Trump.

“I’m going to get one of those little [DNA testing] kits and in the middle of the debate, when she proclaims she’s of Indian heritage … ‚” Trump said. “And we will say, ‘I will give you a million dollars to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian.’ “

“And let’s see what she does,” Trump continued. “I have a feeling she will say no, but we’ll hold that for the debates. Do me a favor. Keep it within this room?”

.. But by 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Warren took to Twitter to go after Trump, explain why she released a test that suggested she was correct about her heritage, and to reiterate that heritage played no role in her professional pursuits. She also acknowledged that tribal affiliation is determined only by tribal nations.

.. “Remember saying on 7/5 that you’d give $1M to a charity of my choice if my DNA showed Native American ancestry?” she tweeted. “I remember — and here’s the verdict. Please send the check to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.”

The charity she chose is an organization that seeks to protect Native American women from violence.

.. Warren said she took the test because she had “nothing to hide” — then dared Trump to release his tax returns.

.. Another reporter brought up his promise of a $1 million charity donation.

“I didn’t say that,” Trump said. “Nah, you’d better read it again.”

Soon after, the Hill posted a fact-checked headline: “Trump denies offering $1 million for Warren DNA test, even though he did.”

.. Earlier Monday, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, dismissed Warren’s DNA test as “junk science,” an early indication that Trump is unlikely to follow through on the donation promise he denies having made.

“I haven’t looked at the test. I know that everybody likes to pick their junk science or sound science depending on the conclusion, it seems some days,” Conway told reporters. “But I haven’t looked at the DNA test and it really doesn’t interest me … ”

.. On Monday afternoon, Trump was again asked by a reporter about the donation, and this time he said he would “only do it if I can test her personally.”

“That will not be something I enjoy doing either,” he added.

.. Trump has had a long history of making bold pledges to donate large sums of money to charity, without actually delivering on those promises, as The Washington Post’s David A. Fahrenthold uncovered in a series of articles that won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting.

Elizabeth Warren and the new birtherism

Apparently, DNA tests are the new birth certificates.

.. After President Barack Obama produced his birth certificate in 2011, it took Trump another five years to say he accepted that Obama was “born in the United States, period.”

Now, Trump is going even lower, to pre-birtherism.

.. The spotlight that comes with public life often produces surprising revelations about long-accepted family histories. Bill Clinton was president before he discovered he had an older half brother. 

.. Every time someone brings up my family’s story, I’m going to use it to lift up the story of your families and your communities.”