Today’s turndown by Senate Republicans of Obama nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray, was so clearly telegraphed in advance as to make the vote a non-event. The Republicans has said they would not approve anyone, even a Republican, for the position, unless they put into place measures to increase “transparency and accountability.” That is NewSpeak for “gives us control over its budget so we can make it incompetent, weak, and bank-fearing just like the SEC.”
So why are we harping on this set piece? It’s just a reminder of how Elizabeth Warren has allowed herself to be played. The best thing for Warren’s stature would have been for the Administration to play the game out and force the Republicans to nix her. It would have kept the issues of the fallen standing of the middle class and bank bad conduct towards consumers in the press spotlight (in an indirect acknowledgment, Scott Brown, who is opposite Warren in the Mass. Senate race, was the only Republican to vote for Cordray, no doubt not wanting to give her grounds for accusing him of being anti-consumer).
Needless to say, given that Obama needs to raise $1 billion for the 2012 presidential campaign and banks are one of the biggest donor groups, all that was every in the offing was the occasional wet noodle lashing of bank bad behavior.
Having Warren run for the Scott Brown seat was both a way to get her off stage and to divert Republican dollars from other races into fighting her. It was an exceedingly clever move by Obama. Warren has talked herself into believing that she can be an unconventional Senator and make a difference, but the contemporary Senate, where members are far more dependent on party resources and funding than of yore, does not lend itself to that model. Readers have said that losing to Scott Brown may have been the best thing that ever happened to Martha Coakley. The converse may prove true for Warren: that if she wins, it is not her best outcome.
[And yes, dear readers, we have two quelle surprises in a day. Must be the approaching eclipse…]