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Elizabeth Warren to Announce Senate Campaign Tomorrow

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Huffington Post reported that Elizabeth Warren is announcing her Senate campaign for Scott Brown’s seat tomorrow.

As readers probably know, we believe that Warren has decided to drink a poisoned chalice handed her by the Democratic party hackocracy. The notion of a Senate bid was dangled before her as a bright shiny toy to get her to leave the her role as de facto head of the CFPB gracefully. And she is showing Stockholm-syndrome-style loyalty to the people who used her, offered weak to no support as she was abused by Republican Congresscritters and then fired by the Obama Administration.

Having her fight the uphill battle of trying to claim the Scott Brown seat is a no-lose proposition for the party. If she wins, they’ve reversed the embarrassment of losing a Senate seat in a blue state. And if she fails, her bid will have pulled out-of-state, financial services industry dollars into the likely-to-be-a-Republican-win-anyhow Scott Brown race, depriving Republican candidates of funding that might tip other races. Brown has already been soliciting based on the Warren threat even before this announcement.

Warren bears all the signs of being advised badly. Remember, for them, she is just another fee generating, presentable product in an tough race. It was to their benefit to tell her whatever it took to get her to run. Seasoned local observers said her six week listening campaign didn’t help her prospects; she should have fished or cut bait sooner. Her ties to Harvard are a weak point; elitism plays badly in much of the state. Yet her team is full of operatives who hew from similar backgrounds.

Even with favorable pre-bid media coverage (the Republicans have not yet pulled out their knives in Massachusetts, and she has the tail wind of sympathetic national coverage from her exodus from the CFPB), Brown leads by nine points. Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who controls a substantial voting machine and kneecapped a past progressive gubernatorial candidate, is a Scott Brown fan.

Moreover, her association with the Obama Administration is likely to prove more toxic as the campaign advances. The race for the Anthony Weiner seat is proving how Obama’s devil-take-the-hindmost calculus serves him at the expense of other Democratic candidates. His selling proposition has been reduced to being less awful than the rabid choices on offer from the GOP. That means he can continue to sell out the traditional Democratic base at little apparent cost (although he runs the risk of being defeated by low turnout among supporters-by-default).

By contrast, the disenchantment with Obama’s continued sellout is affecting local races. Even though every district has its own quirks, and New York’s 9th Congressional district is particularly quirky, the special election for Anthony Weiner’s seat is showing Democratic voters to be in a particularly sour mood.(Update 12:40 AM: the election was just called for Republican Bob Turner, at 53% versus 46% for David Weprin, this in a district with a 3:1 Democrat advantage in voter registration). Warren may come to regret her “standing shoulder to shoulder with the President” remark.

But more important than the difficulty of the campaign is whether this is a fight worth fighting. While the Democrats win no matter what, the calculus is vastly less favorable for Warren. She seems to ignore the cost, not just to her, but to her agenda, if she loses. It will be easy for opponents of banking reform to argue that her inability to win in a liberal state is proof her ideas have thin public support. And if she wins? She seems to be operating on the premise that she can be a celebrity Senator, be appointed to important committees, and have impact out of proportion to her standing as a freshman Senator. The ne plus ultra of celebrity Senators, Hillary Clinton, would seem to disprove that thesis. Hillary had to devote considerable effort to brown nosing her colleagues in order to win acceptance, including getting coffee for the men.

Ultimately, what good is running as a protest candidate for a body like the Senate? A real outsider, socialist Bernie Sanders who has no reason to be loyal to the Democrats, initially was a critical backer of Audit the Fed. He later played a Quisling role by (at Administration behest) proposing that the audit be limited to specific window during the financial crisis. Warren is relying on Democratic party backing; she will be expected to carry the President’s water in the Senate at least a fair portion of the time. That alone is too high a price to pay. Her best hope for independence is if he loses, but she is even less likely to win if Obama is turfed out.

For someone who is such a clear-headed analyst and communicator, Warren’s thinking about her future seems incredibly muddled. I wish her the best, but I do not see any happy outcomes from her decision to run for the Senate.

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79 comments

  1. Typing Monkey

    I wish her the best, but I do not see any happy outcomes from her decision to run for the Senate.

    I agree.

    she will be expected to carry the President’s water in the Senate at least a fair portion of the time. [...]For someone who is such a clear-headed analyst and communicator, Warren’s thinking about her future seems incredibly muddled.

    Perhaps she believes that her ability to analyze and communicate will make her a force to be reckoned with. Her being expected to “carry water” doesn’t mean that she will actually have to do it if she can get sufficient limelight and public support.

    Or perhaps (more likely, imo, although you will no doubt take umbrage to this) she, like many before her, just got addicted to the Washington lifestyle where she gets to be a “significant actor” and make seemingly important decisions on seemingly weighty matters.

    There is a reason people seek these posts, after all, and a reason why they spend ever increasing amounts of money to keep them, even at heavy cost to their personal lives.

    I don’t think Stockholm Syndrome is relevant here. Ego is.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      People with healthy egos usually have a decent reading on who their friends and enemies are. Yes, she may have been seduced by hacks who played to her sense of importance, but I still have trouble with her apparent failure to see how badly she was used by the Administration.

      1. Typing Monkey

        Have you considered asking her to contribute a post on your blog, stating what she hopes to achieve and about CFPB, etc?

        Your blog is popular enough that I imagine she would accept–to get an unfiltered platform to reach a large number of generally sympathetic people, if for no other reason. And no offense, but whatever she writes would almost certainly be more relevant than many of George Washington’s posts.

        BTW, just as an observation, you’ve compared her potential effects as a junior Senator to Clinton’s NY experience a few times already (with Clinton playing an acquiescent role in fitting in with party expectations”). Ron Paul might be a better comparison for the absolute upper bound of what she can expect to accomplish if she wishes to play a *spoiler* role–although a House Republican, he has incredible name recognition, a very loyal support base, a long track record, and a very safe seat. His net effect on his party’s politics over all this time? Probably even less than Hillary’s effect on hers. Why would Elizabeth Warren believe that she could do any better?

        1. okie farmer

          Warren is unlikely to contribute to this blog. Her roll-out statements were right out of The Two Income Trap, all about the squeezed and disappearing middle class. Am I the only one who heard CNBC talking heads about 2 weeks ago identify NC, Zero Hedge, and one other blog I can’t remember, as true enemies of capitalism? Warren would have to be very careful going on this site. The MSM would go after her with a vengence for it. Better she stay with middle class cause, and stay on safe-venue blogs. Besides the trolls, are there any of us here who are not radicals?

          I know quite a number of Okie liberals – Warren fits that profile. She is NOT a progressive, and only a populist in a narrow sense – call her a populist for the middle class. Have you noticed how similar, so far, her ‘message’ is to that O ran on?

          If she gets elected I think she will fit right in with the other establishment liberals in the Senate, perhaps believing more in the rule of law than most of them.

          1. Cugel

            I’m not sure what Warren was supposed to do? She tried to embarrass the administration into keeping her but Obama listens to Geithner and he hates her. They succeeded in turfing her out.

            And that probably won’t even matter as much as people think, because Republicans will succeed in defunding and eliminating the agency in the next few years. Regardless of how harmless the next agency heads are, the minute a Republican President arrives, he will move immediately to abolish the agency completely. And every Republican in Congress will support it (and probably most Democrats).

            In the meantime they will attempt to zero out its funding by making that funding dependent on Congress, and attack any move it makes to provide any pro-consumer rule-making whatsoever.

            What’s her alternative if she wants to play a public role? Go back to academia and write letters to the Times? Start petition drives? Lobby Congress?

            In short, it doesn’t look likely she could start a citizens’ movement all by herself and she’d just drop out of view completely and everything she tried to accomplish would be forgotten.

            Now, even if she loses, she gets to raise the visibility of her issues. And She might as well get something out of the Obama administration. She went quietly and didn’t publicly attack Obama and Geithner, so they have to support her (halfheartedly).

            Probably she should have publicly broken with the Administration and resigned and called them out for a massive sell-out. But that would simply have made it easy for the Administration to paint her as an “ingrate” and “rebel” who has “personal issues” with massive support from the media. And she’d be back in academia anyway with no power and zero clout in Washington having burned her bridges to the Democratic party.

            I don’t see any way forward for her to have any public influence without running at some point for public office and why not now?

      2. attempter

        Just out of curiosity, how long and consistently would Warren have to engage in this pattern of conduct before you’d rethink your premises* about what she is and what she wants?

        *Means well, is weak, naive, bad advisers, etc. etc.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I’ve had the advantage of speaking with her more than once, one on one, at some length, as well as knowing people who are no pushovers who have known her for some time. My reading is based on reasonable direct and one step removed data, not mere media reports. And I also know some of the hacks who are advising her, so I am also pretty confident in my assessment that she is not getting good advice.

          I never said she was weak. That is YOUR projection onto my reading. You can be self or other deceived and still be pretty aggressive.

          1. Black Smith

            Well I gots so little hope left and she’s the only fix around. Besides, Yves and Elizabeth are both sooo dreamy!

            Here’s hoping.

          2. Dan B

            I’ve heard her speak recently and agree with Yves’ assessment. I consider her run for senate a likely experience in demystifying her faith in the American Dream. The existential decision for her if she runs is, “Will she compromise her beliefs and implicit commitment to decency and commom Americans to be elected?”

          3. attempter

            DanB :

            I consider her run for senate a likely experience in demystifying her faith in the American Dream.

            And when it doesn’t, then what will you think is going to demystify her faith? And then what?

            The existential decision for her if she runs is, “Will she compromise her beliefs and implicit commitment to decency and commom Americans to be elected?”

            I hate the way Obama keeps compromising his beliefs and his implicit commitment to decency. And where’s that compassionate conservatism Bush promised? Why did Bush compromise his beliefs and implicit commitments like that for 8 years?

            Darn it, my elites better start being the decent people I know they are when I look into their souls!

      3. Dan Allen

        Who hasn’t been badly used by this administration? If I held that against her, I would have to hold it against my friends and myself too.

      4. JD

        I bet Elizabeth Warren is completely aware of how she was used (how we were all used) by the Obama Administration. What would you do if put into her place,…then trapped?

        She has shown repeatedly that she is determined to win. She probably is still very determined to win. Why suppose she has changed? She is most likely still the pure, brilliant, humane and strong person she was…and stronger!

        She is taking her case to The People. This is a test for US, not another test for her. It is our turn to straighten up, our turn to show great commitment and our turn to fight WITH her to a real victory.

  2. hello

    sigh….

    Should EW win, being the junior Democratic senator in a Republican-controlled Senate (possible in 2012) is absolutely horrid. You get stuck with all the benefits of being number 100 in a seniority-based institution–the crappiest committee assignments/the smallest office, having none of your legislation considered in committee, etc. etc. etc.

    but on the plus side, you and your kids will become well-connected and EW will be able to afford a nice summer house in Provincetown!!!!!

    1. Typing Monkey

      the smallest office

      I could be wrong, but I thought that offices were determined by lottery?

      Not that I really care one way or another–just curious…

  3. Tao Jonesing

    Having her fight the uphill battle of trying to claim the Scott Brown seat is a no-lose proposition for the party.

    Warren bears all the signs of being advised badly.

    The second statement does not support the first statement if the first is her goal. Warren may just be a true believer in the Democratic party. She has already shown that she’s willing to be a utility player for Team Obama. Why don’t you think that’s what she’s doing now? She’s just enough of an altruist, and just enough of a political animal, to rationally reconcile the two instincts.

    Still, I agree with you that her hopes of reforming the system incrementally and from the inside will fail. You can’t reform a kleptocracy. You have to throw it out.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      She did not take the CFPB job to be a “utility player” for the Obama Administration. She wanted to head the CFPB. The people I know who know her fairly well are clear on that. She was absolutely gobsmacked when Obama floated the Raj Date trial balloon. She had apparently convinced herself that the fact that they’d been unable to find anyone they wanted (so far) to take the job meant they’d have to give it to her.

      If she had been a mere willing tool of the Administration, she never would have tangled with Geithner, which she did on a regular basis. She was fighting for her agency, not for the Administration. She also would have taken the aggressive hints from multiple fronts to quit. Her continuing in the post in the hope Obama would be forced by acclamation and lack of alternatives to appoint her was an act of quiet defiance, not cooperation. That is why I am puzzled by the Senate move. But people who have suffered big personal defeats are the most vulnerable to manipulation (for instance, people who have been fired or had a big loss like a divorce or death in the family are far more likely to join a cult than the rest of the population).

      I continue to be astonished at the amount of projection she gets.

      1. TK421

        Isn’t it true that, as a condition of the CFPB’s founding, President Obama could have chosen anyone he wanted as its head? Or did I hear wrongly?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          That is not the issue.

          She clearly hoped to become permanent director. That initially seemed not so likely, but recall Warren fights long odds battles. It became more plausible as of May or so, when candidates floated as possible directors said they were not interested at all, and some further said in the media that Warren was the obvious choice, why dork around? The post became even less attractive as the Rethugs raked her over the coals.

          Her continuing to stay in place as the Dems kept telling her to quit and run for the Senate was a sign that she wasn’t taking the message, that she figured it was worth playing this out, since the lack of an obvious alternative meant she might get the nod after all. She seemed blindsided by the Administration reaching into the agency itself for alternatives.

          1. rd

            She should consider the Grover Norquist route of influence.

            He is arguably far more powerful than most Senators as many of them tremble in fear of him (or are just very annoyed that he could cost them re-eelction). Yet he is unelected and appears to want t ostay that way.

            The middle class is in poor shape and Elizabeth Warren has been their primary advocate for a while now. She could start up a similar organization targeting at getting the silent majority to fight for its own rights. If she could make that work, she could probably sway much of the Senate and House finance and banking committees.

          2. Typing Monkey

            She could start up a similar organization targeting at getting the silent majority to fight for its own rights.

            Where will she get her funding from? Norquist presumably can get his funding by asking for it from rich supporters. Warren is unlikely to get much from the unemployed and working poor.

            On a semi-related note, unless Warren is independently wealthy, how is she going to survive by simply running an organization?

            This has puzzled me for a while now, actually–how do all those people who resign from a gov’t office out of protest or who start these organizations feed themselves?

      2. attempter

        Speaking of projection, if things like these are true:

        She did not take the CFPB job to be a “utility player” for the Obama Administration. She wanted to head the CFPB. The people I know who know her fairly well are clear on that. She was absolutely gobsmacked when Obama floated the Raj Date trial balloon…

        Warren has decided to drink a poisoned chalice handed her by the Democratic party hackocracy. The notion of a Senate bid was dangled before her as a bright shiny toy to get her to leave the her role as de facto head of the CFPB gracefully. And she is showing Stockholm-syndrome-style loyalty to the people who used her, offered weak to no support as she was abused by Republican Congresscritters and then fired by the Obama Administration…

        She seems to be operating on the premise that she can be a celebrity Senator, be appointed to important committees, and have impact out of proportion to her standing as a freshman Senator.

        then wouldn’t that have to mean she’s a terminal idiot, and therefore that anyone who continues to see her as intelligent where it comes to any practical matter is merely projecting that onto her?

        It leads to self-contradictory sentences like this one.

        For someone who is such a clear-headed analyst and communicator, Warren’s thinking about her future seems incredibly muddled.

        Since Warren’s future is inextricably bound up with her analysis of the system (i.e., she’s not planning to just chuck it and go tend her academic garden), I don’t see how it’s possible for her analysis to be both clear and muddled at the same time.

        On the other hand, the working theory that she’s a loyal oppositionist (at best) but in the end a team player who will do what she’s told would cover all the evidence without resort to Obamabot-type kludges like “stockholm syndrome” which have to be inserted ad hoc whenever an allegedly clear-headed analyst who wants to help the people somehow keeps acting in the opposite direction.

  4. anjon

    Yves

    I am a big fan of both of you, and I believe you raise some fantastic points, especially this one: “…if she loses. It will be easy for opponents of banking reform to argue that her inability to win in a liberal state is proof her ideas have thin public support.”

    I too would have preferred a Pres Primary run for her, or short of that, the Shadow CFPB idea you floated a little while back.

    Thoughts on Typing Monkey’s suggestion on reaching out to her for a response? I’m guessing she is aware of you.

  5. Hugh

    I was musing earlier this evening on the contradiction that is the Establishment liberal. They talk the language of reform because they believe in the essential soundness of the system and the elites. But the system isn’t sound and it is precisely those elites to which they belong and which they do not reject who are looting us.

    Establishment liberals do some good by criticizing aspects of the system, but they do a greater evil by continuing to back its legitimacy. Looking to such people to lead an opposition is to completely misunderstand who and what they are.

    Re Warren, she is an Establishment liberal. She is not a progressive. She is not a populist. If she were, we would already have seen her reaching out to progressives, even the faux progressives of the liberal orgs and elite blogs. That I know of she has done nothing of the kind. It’s a little hard to expect someone to lead your movement if they don’t really want to have anything to do with it or you.

    1. Tao Jonesing

      Establishment liberals do some good by criticizing aspects of the system, but they do a greater evil by continuing to back its legitimacy.

      Correct.

      Re Warren, she is an Establishment liberal. She is not a progressive. She is not a populist. If she were, we would already have seen her reaching out to progressives, even the faux progressives of the liberal orgs and elite blogs. That I know of she has done nothing of the kind. It’s a little hard to expect someone to lead your movement if they don’t really want to have anything to do with it or you.

      This is where we part company. Why? Because you don’t, and can’t, define how you distinguish between the three classes you identify. The first class has become a dirty word, so the second class is what most of the first identify themselves as. Obama is a member of the first class that identifies himself as the third class.

      Personally, I find the whole left/right continuum of little practical use these days. The question is corporations people? Everything else flows from how you answer that question.

          1. patricia

            Corporations are mental constructs. They are “organizations”. They have no physicality but they structure physicality. That they are peopled is a feature not a definition.

            The organization structures admen to give physicality to itself, but commercials are mirages of unsubstantiality, only referring to an activity enabled by the structure.

            It would be less inaccurate, if one needs to have something “in hand” to comprehend them, to say that corporations are products.

          2. patricia

            oops…forgot about Romney (I really don’t want to think about him) and therefore responded to snark as if it were meant. A serious mistake, yah.

          3. carroll david

            Alleging that corporations are people is unadorned horseshit. Only the people who benefit from them support that idiotic notion. Anthony Scalia and his cohorts on the bench have done this country a great disservice.

      1. Hugh

        The dividing line between an Establishment liberal and a progressive is pretty easy. An Establishment liberal is wedded to the elites, to the Democratic party, and to the current system with its two corporatist parties. They criticize aspects of the system, but never the system itself. They are the economists like Krugman, union leaders like Trumka, politicians like Sanders, and academics like Warren. They serve a useful function in the kleptocracy because rather than being a focus where meaningful opposition to kleptocracy can form they deflect and dissipate such energies so that such an opposition can never form. They are the sellers of reform in a system that can’t be reformed. They are the ones who never complete the analysis. Obama and the Democrats screw them and us over so our response should be we/they should support Obama and the Democrats. They are the counterpart of the Tea party on the right. They just play to a different audience. The purpose of both, however, is to keep us chasing our tails, keep us ineffective and disempowered so that the elites to which they belong can continue to rule over us and steal from us.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          That may be in the end where Warren come out, but I think you make a mistake in seeing her as tribal. You might have a look at the Two Income Trap, which under the hood is a great piece of social sciences research.

          I think she is a technocrat more than an elitist. Think of her as a social sciences engineer. She likes complicated puzzles (bankruptcy, which is her speciality, is an interesting puzzle, because you have the intersection of contracts, which are voided in the BK process, and older notions of equity).

          So on the one hand, she has more of an eye than most members of the elite for where the system is broken and can characterize that pretty accurately. But her impulse is to look for fixes within the system. That is a correct first impulse, you should exhaust the less disruptive options before moving to the more radical ones.

          A second factor may be at work: because she’s spent time in DC, her vision of what is possible may have become distorted, not due to alliegance to the elites, but for engaging with the incumbents, for having to think too much re their power and interests. By becoming immersed in politics, she may have become blinkered in her view of what is possible.

          1. eric

            You guys are all a little nuts. What is Warren going to do that could possibly give her more power than being a Senator? Run against Obama? Give me a break. Start a Nader- or Norquist-like organization? Well, maybe… But I think the best bet is to try to build a progressive political wing. Eventually the situation is going to get so bad that we will get FDR-style changes or Hitler-style changes, and FDR was very much an opportunistic mainstream politician. It seems conceivable that Warren could be part of that kind of politics. I think Yves is getting lost in the trees here and not seeing the forest.

          2. attempter

            I think she is a technocrat more than an elitist.

            !

            Think of her as a social sciences engineer.

            Just what we need.

            She likes complicated puzzles (bankruptcy, which is her speciality, is an interesting puzzle, because you have the intersection of contracts, which are voided in the BK process, and older notions of equity).

            Only a sociopath could view these crimes and sufferings that way. So you’re probably right about this part, but that’s only more evidence for the fact that she’s a system team player, has always been one, and will always remain one.

            A second factor may be at work: because she’s spent time in DC, her vision of what is possible may have become distorted, not due to alliegance to the elites, but for engaging with the incumbents, for having to think too much re their power and interests.

            You really don’t see the desperate cultism of this kind of pseudo-exculpatory word fog?

            This is where the Better Elites compulsion leads.

    2. Anonymous

      I agree with your basic sentiment, but what you say about Warren not engaging with democrats (or, ‘progressives,’ you call them) isn’t true. She’s attended netroots nation conferences, and she posted at daily kos within the last couple weeks as part of her campaign rollout, to name two examples.

      1. Hugh

        kos is the most overtly Democratic of the faux progressive sites. Netroots nation was created by kos and Moulitsas, as far as I know, still sits on its board and controls it. So I stand corrected, but if this is what Warren thinks is outreach to progressives that in itself should tell you a lot about her.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        First, nowhere in the post, or anywhere have I every said she is not “engaging” with progressives. Second, I got a ton of reports from people who attended Netroots Nation this year. It has become fauxgressive.

    3. steelhead23

      It’s a little hard to expect someone to lead your movement if they don’t really want to have anything to do with it or you.

      It may be that Warren is politically astute enough to avoid becoming entangled with libruls or socialists. We are hated, villified, persecuted even. (Any Snagglepuss fans out there?). I think she is smart to work to avoid labels.

      I will support Ms Warren’s run for the Senate, but I won’t do so enthusiastically. She should be president. Perhaps the Senate will be a stepping-stone, but it could just as easily be an millstone around her neck, particularly if partisan bickering continues to stymie the congress, further enraging the public.

      1. attempter

        It’s a little hard to expect someone to lead your movement if they don’t really want to have anything to do with it or you.

        It may be that Warren is politically astute enough to avoid becoming entangled with libruls or socialists. We are hated, villified, persecuted even. (Any Snagglepuss fans out there?). I think she is smart to work to avoid labels.

        This displays a complete ignorance of what’s possible. (Not surprising in someone who evidently feels such self-loathing.)

        I don’t doubt that Warren doesn’t want to become entangled with anyone who really wants a transformative movement. But that’s not because she wants that too but is “smarter” about it. It’s because she opposes it.

        In fact, Warren’s not astute at all. She’s lukewarm all the way, and will rightly earn history’s contempt for it.

        I will support Ms Warren’s run for the Senate, but I won’t do so enthusiastically.

        At this point in the saga, where the odds of anything good happening anytime soon look pretty low, why would anyone support anything he wasn’t enthusiastic about? And why would anyone support halfway (usually more like 1%-way) measures?

        These only display the limitations of the speaker, not the actual limitations.

  6. Middle Seaman

    I couldn’t agree more, but. I used to read ew way before see became EW, way before. Her clarity, her convince and total support of economic fairness towards the middle class and the poor were strong and outstanding in a way that our so called progressive never were.

    People with such talents see things we don’t. I have a personal experience with such individuals in my family. Warren may see in the senate run visions we don’t. Or so I hope.

  7. David

    Yves,

    I agree with you if being a senator is all that Warren wishes to be. I am wondering though if she is thinking of using the Senate as a springboard for running for president in 2016. That would make some sense especially if Obummer does not get a second term.

  8. dearieme

    I suppose a useful thing to do for people who think “the system” stinks would be to try and get passed a Constitutional Amendment that made it easier to pass Constitutional Amendments.

  9. bmeisen

    They voted religiously for Teddy Kennedy, even though he screwed them with health care, and with giving Ronnie a boost by shafting Carter. What was Teddy’s justification for challenging Carter: Give progressives a true voice in the White House? Thanks Teddy.

  10. Woodrow Wilson

    Here in The People’s Republic things are not as they seem, unless of course you’re a hack, then everything is fine.

    If Warren is receiving any advice from the likes of anyone affiliated with now convicted criminals Flaherty, Finneran or DiMasi, Sen. Scott Brown has no worries at all.

    As an Independent here, my vote (for whatever it’s worth at this point) will still be going to Brown. His voting record (minus his campaign funding) is exactly why I voted for him the first time, right in the middle:

    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/person.xpd?id=412384

    I don’t see Warren doing that. However, she will automatically get the Democratic vote from some of the wealthy connected elites and the zealots (my old firm was All in on Obama and Democrats).

    While Massachusetts is a political one-party State, if people actually showed up to vote, the political demographics (minus Gerrymandering) would be vastly different. Remember, registered Independents outnumber both Democrats and Republicans combined by a 2 to 1 margin. I think we’ll see that, and Warren will too.

  11. mitchw

    Consider EW’s alternative of returning to Harvard. Maybe she didn’t think teaching Recommendation Letter Wannabees and churning out pieces for the academic press very worthwhile either.

  12. zebulon

    everyone at any high level of power is sellout.

    warren has proven she cares about the working poor and understands the biggest threat to their well being is not healthcare or labor standards, but central banking money planning.

    that is sufficient. she’s ten times more intelligent than most politicians, and she’s on the right side. do you need to ask more? would you rather see the senate building literally on fire?

    i think she’s smart. harvard is stale, and clearly, a bit part of the power structure that created the mess on wall street and in washington. the legal acadamy has done more to legitimize corporate government ownership than any other institution and the supreme court is ethically bankrupt.

    there are no checks and balances. would you rather warren advocate for revolution? she is only capable of so much. she’s no martyr or other individual of iron will substance, but she is a good person. will she change much , probably not, is she better than anyone else,? well did the banks try and screw her and does she still hate them?

    there you go.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’ve set this out in MULTIPLE prior posts on this site, please put “Elizabeth Warren” in the search field.

      Short form: running for Senate is vastly inferior to other options.

      You forget she already has the most valuable thing you get from an official role, which is media access. Journalists adore her. She can get on TV or an NYT/Financial Times op ed pretty much any time she wants to. That gives her a very powerful bully pulpit outside traditional power structures.

      That is why Harvard, contra your assertion, is not a bad place at all. You seem to forget she singlehandedly got the CFPB into Dodd Frank from there, a sign of how powerful she already is. We suggested she could run a shadow CFPB from Harvard to keep the real one honest (and keep her amused and in the media).

      She could have primaried Obama. That was her best option. The point would not be to win, but to have a platform for getting her ideas into the discourse. Look at the MSM. There are an astonishing number of topics that are still virtually verboten or treated as gospel when they are bunk (my favorite is the idea that banks are too powerful and clever to be regulated). The conservatives, when they were in the wilderness in the late 1960s and 1970s, first worked on changing the discourse. They then started winning elections. Warren would do a much more effective job of starting to change the discourse with a Presidential bid than with a Senate run. Much much bigger platform, particularly given a former member of Team Obama choosing to oppose him.

  13. b.

    I agree that, on principle grounds, any continued association with the Obama administration is a disservice to Warren’s policy objectives. It is the Mukasey Principle in reverse – then: If you join a corrupt administration, you will be forever tainted no matter what the motives. Now: If you choose to remain part of a corrupt administration, whatever you have accomplished will be tainted by association.

    Further, Warren had been given an incredible opening for a clean break: Obama’s attempt at co-opting her had ended in her dismissal. She could have taken this as a sign to exit, and either go the Johnsen route of how profile acquiescence (in the, likely mistaken, belief that this would serve her policy objectives better), or could have staked out – antagonistically, or with no comment whatsoever on the past – a public position building her own power base independent of Obama and the party.

    It is important to remember that even during the primaries, Obama was obsessed with control. He gutted the party apparat to build his own, gutted rival power centers after nomination and again after election (50 states etc.), and gutted nominally independent (527) issue groups. Warren has opted to rely on a party machine gutted and controlled by Obama, for the benefit of Obama at the expense of the party and any potential contender. No Machiavelli, she.

    But beyond Warren, the time for a party of heroes is over. This nation needs an MLK, not another pretend president.

  14. justanotherobserver

    I think the piece is very good, as usual. I only have two “minor” points both of uncharacteristic optimism :-)

    “Brown leads by nine points”

    She can overcome this lead. There’s plenty of time and Warren has proven herself to be a good communicator. Your points about her electability negatives are, of course, exactly right.

    Although here move to the senate might blunt the work she could otherwise do, at some point we HAVE to elect people with some hope that they will actually fight for the little people, don’t we ?

    That being said, the job of the senate is to

    1 make sure nothing happens
    2 get senators re-elected
    3 MOST IMPORTANTLY – make sure that seniority is all that matters to reinforce 1 & 2. My making seniority trump everything else forces senators to think they need a “career” in the senate to get things done. Unfortunately, they forget about rule # 1 – and then, of course, they seek a career in the senate just to have a career in the senate.

    So comments about the Senate being a cage for EW are right on.

  15. Jane Doe

    What role, if any, can an individual actor play to move leftward reform forward?

    Do you think that reform within the system is possible?

    I happen to think the answer is no.

  16. geerussell

    Assuming that Elizabeth Warren desires to have a hand in shaping policy and pursue the kind of agenda she started with the CFPB, what are the good alternatives to get in a position to do so?

    Run for a political office other than senator? Think tank? Academia? Other?

  17. Siggy

    I like Elizabeth Warren. I hope she wins.

    Only she knows if she should run. You and I may believe that it is not a fight she can win. Even so, it may be a fight that needs to be fought. It may be fight that is needed to demonstrate the empty promise that is the Obama administration and its supporters.

    For Elizabeth Warren this run for the Senate may be a fight that she wins by losing.

  18. Aintnorep

    —Well you’re probably right, but I hope not. The truth is that moderate Republicans were always tough to beat in Senate seats in the Northeast, at least in the 2nd part of the last century, and I suspect the same holds true in this one.
    —But the way to beat them was always with either charismatic or celebrity candidates(Bobby Kennedy beating Keating in New York, Bill Bradley succeeding Clifford Case in NJ, Paul Tsongas beating Edward Brooke in Mass, etc) and maybe Warren can pull it off. 2012 is going to be a very bad year for incumbents and a good year for insurgents. The deal in this race is that both will be trying to make the case that they are the insurgent. Whoever gets there first wins.

  19. kaj

    Having seen some good people in the Senate in the 1960s and 1970s and even the 80s, it is a unfortunate that there is so little hope left in the younger generation, only cynicism and despair. One can fight outside of the party machinery and I hope that Ms. Warren does.

    Fighters don’t give up hope; both struggle and hope are what defines humanity. “only those who cast will catch,” Popper’s opening to the “Logic of Scientific Discovery” is the appropriate distillate.

  20. JD

    Someday, when another great and pure soul named Yves Smith, might choose to run for office, it will be interesting to read what Elizabeth Warren writes about HER candidacy.

    Have you no perceptions of who this woman is? I can see who you are. I can see who she is. Help her. For God’s sake. Help her.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That is very kind, but I think you overestimate my influence.

      Nevertheless, I’ve tried, but she is not listening.

      1. Typing Monkey

        That is very kind, but I think you overestimate my influence.

        IMO, your influence is likely to increase, actually, as the US continues to shift left. Although I love your blog and believe that many of your points are valid, this shift makes me skittish (partly because I believe that teh pendulum is going to swing *way* left and inevitably be self-destructive, but I digress).

        Of course, that doesn’t necessarily make you electable (and even if, in the unlikely scenario, you were to become electable, it again leads to the same question we’re asking about Warren–why bother?)

        On a longer term, I think that the bloggers are probably going to increasingly end up in DC. From a politician’s perspective, one problem with msm is that much of what you say is chopped into very little sound bytes which are frequently distorted or taken out of context, and yet a large chunk of time is required to raise funds to use the msm to propagate your message.

        A blogger with a big enough following (ex: Huffington?) could presumably not have to worry so much about distortion, has a ready-made base of support built over a fairly lengthy time, and can reach audiences directly without a filter, and as often as (s)he likes. It also requires much less money to run a blog than to advertise using traditional media.

        It seems sort of inevitable that both the left and the right aspirents will build their support base over a period of years and then “monetize” that support with runs for public office or positions or trade support for patronage jobs or whatever. It’ll be interesting to see how msm would respond…

    2. MichaelC

      JD,

      You say:

      I can see who she is.

      But there’s the rub. I’m a huge Warren fan, but I can’t see who she is. And I’m not alone. I don’t think she’s a con artist extraordinaire. I’m puzzled why she chose the Senate route, but I’ll give her her due, till proven wrong, that her choice furthers her agenda. She’s been one of the few who don’t seem too intimidated by the forces against her, so maybe she’s on to something the rest of us haven’t realized yet. I have more faith in her fearlessness at this point, rather than despair of her apparent naivety about how the system works.

      She seems to have a pretty good ability to deal with bullies, (confront them (Timmy), stroke them (O), suffer the fools gracefully (Congressional hearings..)

      She’s been a remarkable change agent. A failed Senate race could enhance her stature and her agenda could shame her foes. The campaign strategy doesn’t strike me as conflicting or demeaning her successes so far.

      A victory, on the other hand is more dubious. If its a landslide , that’s for the good, I think. But if she eke’s out a victory in a compromising battle that’s another thing.

      If she ends up being the only Senator on the floor hated by every political machinist who tries to exploit her loud and public refusal to pay to play , than I’d count that as a success and a huge challenge to the pay to play dynamics most middle class voters loathe. That may be extremely naive. Or may be the thin edge of the wedge that she’s proven herself adept at exploiting. Stranger things have happened.

      How’s that for projection?

      1. attempter

        I’m a huge Warren fan, but I can’t see who she is.

        Now that’s one of the classic moonie statements I’ve ever seen, and it’s not even from satire. I’m going to be using that. Thanks.

  21. Valissa

    I have been waiting to see/hear how she performs in the ritual of public political speech.

    Here is her official campaign announcement video http://elizabethwarren.com/announcement

    On a scale of 1-10 I give her a 4 for trying. She comes across as an attractive and intelligent elite woman. She is soft spoken. I don’t think this will win her any new fans. Some charm, but no strong charisma.

    Why does she want to be a senator? This video is not compelling in any way.

    Her platform is to fight for the middle class that has already been gutted. What can she do for this archetypal middle class? That’s a rather abstract position to take. What does that mean exactly, people will ask,… you know, in real world language (NOT campaign speak)? How is she ever going to accomplish anything that helps the middle class in the Senate/House of Lords? Is it realistic to assume that the Senate is going to work together to save the middle class? No, senators from both parties will position themselves as being pro-middle class using different types of propaganda because talk is cheap & easy. Coming up with and implementing major policy changes to begin to change a socioeconomic trend is hard, if not impossible.

    Warren has spent enough time at Versailles on the Potomac to understand what she’s getting into. From Harvard Prof to Senator is a nice jump in prestige. She is willing to be a “figure head” for the middle class as her entry into the power elite. However, I think many people will see through that well meaning deception .

    Although I will probably vote for Scott Brown again, I would also be fine with Warren as senator (though I think it highly unlikely she will even win the primary).

    1. Woodrow Wilson

      “Her platform is to fight for the middle class that has already been gutted.” -

      Well, that depends on which middle-class we’re discussing.

      There are two middle-class categories here in The Peoples Republic; one is completely subsidized by those of us that are still working, the other is the class that has in fact been gutted, some still only here because of massive subsidies to make Beacon Hill appear like they are doing something non-self serving.

      I’m pretty confident of which middle-class she will be supporting in this one-party state, and it won’t be mine.

      1. kgb999

        So, wait. You claim to be working and subsidizing the “middle class” … are you considering yourself middle class as well?

        Are you considering yourself in the gutted part? If so, does that mean you are only still here because of massive “Beacon Hill” subsidies? Or are you considering yourself working poor?

        Either way, who do you consider to be the subsidized middle class that working folk like you (and the rest of us who still have jobs or are trying to start businesses in this crappy economy) are currently supporting?

        I don’t get it. Sounds like you’re just playing the dogs-fighting-for-scraps game to me. Jail wardens will often stir similar things up among their prisoners to keep demographics from forming difficult-to-deal-with with alliances. Looks like the media is doing the same thing to you.

        1. JTFaraday

          Oh, come on. You get it. Chris Christie voter.

          You can’t expect a Chris Christie voter to want to send Suze Orman to Capitol Hill to simplify financial forms so the marginally financially literate can figure out what the interest rate is on their credit cards, do you?

          I mean, that would make too much sense. Think of the voting block we’re talking about here.

  22. kgb999

    Actually, even a junior senator can do things such as refuse unanimous consent, issue holds, riders, amendments, etc. The idea that Warren would somehow have less power to advance an agenda from a position as one of the 100 most powerful political office holders in America than she would from … what? a classroom at Harvard? is beyond laughable.

    Democrats have got to be the most spineless crew in America. You finally get a solid candidate who is clearly not sold out … and the response is to go all concern-troll. You clearly don’t understand why voters keep spanking Dems in these special elections (notice, it’s happening to GOPers in traditional GOP districts too … big clue). Y’all need help.

    1. JD

      Yes, I agree. Spinelessness = Democrat. But, Elizabeth Warren isn’t a Democrat. But, she isn’t unqualified for office enough to be a Republican. And, if she ran as an Independent, wouldn’t all the soft headed Democrats squeal in protest even louder?

      Some people posting here today are out thinking themselves a bit. Elizabeth Warren is the best piece of work that anyone could vote for and is rightly placed in history next to Brooksley Born, Ellen Brown, Catherine Austin…and…Yves Smith!!!

      All, of these women have EARNED unqualified support from voters. And, especially from YOU thought leaders. Straighten up, you.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      See my comment re Hillary and celebrity senators. Or better yet, look at how much Ron Paul (admittedly in the House(), who has a very clearly articulated position and a very secure seat, has accomplished. Answer: ex Audit the Fed, not much. Or Bernie Sanders. He owes no one anything as a socialist. Did he try to throw a monkey wrench into Obamacare? No.

      The power of the hold is overrated. There were five holds on the Bernanke nomination. Did that stop him from being reappointed?

      1. MichaelC

        Sorry, but the Hillary as celebrity Senator poster child thesis doesn’t work for me.

        Hillary’s celebrity was inexticably linked to Bill’s (and his residual(and permanent) shadow gov’t.ties (ie the Rubnistas etc) which they and the party were meant to preserve.

        Comparison to a less connected (and compromised) celebrity is weak.

        Her celebrity was not intended to be used for change. It served preservation. She was not expected to use the Senate as a platform for change, far from it.

        Which begs the question, Did Hillary’s Senate tenure diminish her? I don’t think so.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          So tell me who has been effective as a freshman Senator, particularly if they choose not to carry the water of their party? Tell me of an accomplishment of said freshman that is more impressive than something Warren could create outside the Senate (like a shadow CFPB, or as someone else suggested, a Grover Norquist like focus on middle class issues?)

          Hillary had something to gain because she had ridden on Bill’s coattails and had utterly botched the health care reform push (I can give you details if you care). No one doubts Warren’s chops and she already has the most valuable bennie of being a Senator, which is ready media access.

  23. Hugh

    Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same over and over again and expecting a different result. That is what characterizes all this wishful thinking about Warren may say, do, or represent. If Warren were a progressive she could just say so, but no we get all these rationalizations about what she might be doing or that she is a crypto-progressive playing an eleven dimensional game of chess, etc. I mean get over it. Warren is a fairly moderate Democrat. She only looks progressive in comparison to Bush-clones like Obama, but tellingly she continues to support Obama. Warren has really been telling you who she is for some time now. You just don’t want to hear. It’s much like Obama in 2008. He was saying who he was and you didn’t want to hear that either.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I have said repeatedly in prior posts that she may not be as progressive as the “progressives” fawning over her assume. We have no idea where she stands on deficit spending or the wars, for starters. So your charge against me is in accurate.

      My point is much more specific. She has a long standing agenda of wanting to reverse predatory retail banking practices. She has a second, broader, but not as well thought out agenda re bolstering the middle class (her Two Income Trap solutions focused on stuff like more widely spread educational spending to end the destructive bidding war for good school districts, and reinstituting usury ceilings). Her focus on the latter has been narrow, and she (so far) seems not to have considered more basic issues (namely, static average worker wages).

      So I am looking at what will best advance her stated agendas, not what suits the progressive fantasies projected on her. I’ve said repeatedly it is shocking how much projection she gets, her being treated as a progressive Joan of Arc is a classic example.

      1. Hugh

        Sorry, that was a generic “you” directed at comments upthread, not at you personally. I have just seen this scenario play out so many times before. Progressives write into a public figure not what’s there, not what they are saying but what they hope is there and what they wish was said. The desire is understandable but ultimately it is just a waste of time and energy. The key to identifying a progressive is that person will have no problem engaging with and being seen with progressives and speaking out on their issues. And of course that person will be willing to lay down markers and fight for progressive ideas, win, lose, or draw, not this kabuki stuff people like Sanders do just before they cave or cast a cosmetic protest vote.

        I have yet to see such a person. I agree that Warren is a technocrat, but I see that as more of a limitation than an asset.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I see it as a limitation too, and it may somehow explain her weird decision, but I can’t fathom her logic.

          1. Typing Monkey

            I see it as a limitation too, and it may somehow explain her weird decision, but I can’t fathom her logic.

            I don’t think there’s much logic here… :)

            Another stupid question for you, though–if you are a technocrat who wants to make the changes she wants to make, and if you insist on doing this by running for office, wouldn’t it make more sense to run for a State Governor office rather than a Senator?

  24. citalopram

    Let’s see where her campaign contributions come from, and then we’ll know where her loyalties lie. If she rakes in tons of cash from corporate America, consider her neutralized.

  25. Fiver

    You’re a little too hard on Sanders – he still towers above all but a handful.

    In my view she should’ve parted ways with the Admin and Democrats the minute it was clear “her” agency’s scope and authority were going to be very severely constrained. She has nowhere to go whatever in this fully captured version of the Democratic Party. She should run as an Independent, or not at all.

  26. John Doe

    I’m glad that she’s running and I think it’s impossible to know whether she would have more impact inside or outside the senate. Obviously, we shouldn’t have any illusions about the power of one senate seat in a corrupt institution (assuming she even wins).

    Whether she wins or not she’ll still be able to keep her pushing her message and I have no doubt that she has more integrity than just about any other active politician (so she’ll do what she can). I don’t know if it’s a good decision or not, but it’s nice psychologically to have someone to feel good about in the senate. Not that it’s lasting long, for anyone that is functionally literate to vote for Brown over Warren is enormously depressing. But what can I expect when we’re all flooded with propaganda and myths constantly.

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