Elizabeth Warren on Bill Maher

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Elizabeth Warren is facing the peculiar experience of being Mr. Smith in Washington. I am a big fan of her position and message, and have come to notice that (not surprisingly) the posture of her interviewer makes a great difference in how well she comes off.

Bill Maher pitched a bunch of softballs, and Warren comes out like a champ (but before you conclude she is getting soft treatment, consider how Fox News treats its own). Contrast how she comes of less well here, on Charlie Rose, even though she had the appearance of having greater control of the interview.

Enjoy (hat tip reader Hubert):

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  1. DownSouth

    Just to play devil’s advocate here, Andrew Bacevich (the conservative Catholic) in The New American Militarism posits a theory that lays much more of the blame for our current predicament at the feet of the American people than at their leaders.

    Warren states: “Let’s start the unravelling a little earlier, because it acutally starts in the late 1970 early 1980s.”

    This is about the time when Carter (the born-again Baptist) gave his “Crisis of Confidence” speech. Bacevich cites this passage from the speech:

    In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.

    The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next five years will be worse than the past five years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.~

    According to Bacevich, the American people rejected Carter’s message, which helped engender a political malaise that “Carter’s political adversaries wasted no time in exploiting”:

    Those adversaries–Ronald Reagan (the New Atheist Hollywood actor) first and foremost–offered a different message, not of a need to cut back but of abundance without end. They assured Americans not only that compromising their lifestyle was unnecessary but that the prospects for economic expansion were limitless and could be had without moral complications or great cost. This, rather than nagging about shallow materialism, was what Americans wanted to hear. Thus did Carter pave the way for his own electoral defeat a year later.~

    According to Bacevich, Carter quickly recognized the huge political error he had commited, and reacted with what became known as the Carter Doctrine. “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region,” he declared, “will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

    Bacevich goes on to explain as follows:

    By the beginning of 1980–facing the prospect of a very tough fight for reelection later that year–a chastened Jimmy Carter had learned a hard lesson: it was not the prospect of making do with less that sustained American-style liberal democracy but the promise of more. By the time that he enunciated the Carter Doctrine, the president had come to realize that the themes of his “Crisis of Confidence” speech six months before–sacrifice, conservation, lowered expectations, personal inconvenience endured on behalf of the common good–were political nonstarters. What Americans wanted for themselves and demanded from their government was freedom, defined as more choice, more opportunity, and above all greater abundance, measured in material terms. That meant that they (along with other developed nations whose own prosperity helped sustain that of the United States) needed assured access to cheap oil and lots of it.

    In promulgating the Carter Doctrine, the president was effictively renouncing his vision of a less materialistic, more self-reliant democracy.~

    In reading Bacevich’s take on history, I was reminded of what Tolstoy wrote in War and Peace:

    The soldiers of the French army went to kill the Russian soldiers at Borodino not because of Napoleon’s orders, but by their own volition. At the sight of an army barring their road to Moscow, the whole army–the French, Italians, Germans, Poles–hungry, ragged, and exhausted by the campaign, felt that the wine was drawn and must be drunk. Had Napoleon then forbidden them to fight the Russians, they would have killed him and would have proceeded to fight the Russians because it was inevitable.

  2. Dave

    Warren was awful on Jon Stewart a couple of weeks ago, and Stewart tossed her the same softballs that Maher did.

    Frankly, she does not impress me. Even if we concede that her points are valid (I don’t necessarily think they are, but let’s assume that they are), she is an awful salesman.

    She needs, at the very least, media training.

  3. Dan Duncan


    You’ve stated that Warren’s “unflattering” interviews may be attributed to possible sexism on the part of the interviewers…citing Charlie Rose and NPR’s Adam Davidson.

    At first, I thought such a notion was absurd.

    But now comes Ms. Warren “looking like a champ” with Bill Maher as interviewer.

    Is sexism an issue in this instance as well?

    Taking your position that the success of Warren’s interviews are dependent on the attitudes of the interviewer towards women…coupled with the fact that Bill Maher is notorious for NEVER having missed a single Playboy Mansion Party (and who can blame him)….

    I think you may be on to something here Yves. As her Number One Fan and budding press agent, perhaps you might book her on Howard Stern’s Show.

  4. Dan Duncan


    I’m offended by your knee-jerk assertion that the Scarecrow is necessarily a man.

    I believe the term you’re looking for is “Straw Person”.

    In the future, I think we would all appreciate a more enlightened perspective and gender-neutral word usage.

    Thank you.

    [BTW: How on earth you could take my previous post and come to the conclusion that I wrote it–not in jest—but rather to create the illusion of actually having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar proposition (the “straw man uhhrr person”)…is befuddling to say the least.

    I wrote it to say one thing…and one thing only:

    “Bill Maher loves the ladies!”]

  5. Yves Smith


    Thank you.


    I did NOT mention sexism in this post, that is entirely your projection. I had an adjunct professor at Columbia Journalism School, who had not seen my post, independently comment on the Warren NPR interview that Davidson would never had dared bully (his words, not mine) a man the way he treated Warren.

    A transgendered professor (female to male) commented that the biggest change in how people dealt with him (not knowing his history) versus when he had been a woman was that he could for the first time finish sentences without being interrupted.

  6. Patrick Griffiths

    Dave – Did you even watch the Daily Show interview? Why the lies? Maybe it’s my tinfoil hat speaking but I’m tempted to ask who you are you shilling for?

    She was great. Here’s a link with the video embedded for people in the US:


    And for Canadians:



  7. Besar

    The title of the youtube video says: “Why Isn’t SHE Obama’s Treasury Secretary?”

    Answer: Because she is not a Goldman Alumni.

  8. kackermann

    @Dave – what possible point of hers might you think not valid?

    Some people are too much; Davidson all but claimed we don’t need people for a recovery… or at least their financial welbeing was not a factor in a recovery, yet I wouldn’t doubt he was quick to blame mortgage defaults as the root of the crisis.

    Cognitive bias.

    On a different note: if I hear Larry Kudlow say one more time that the banks didn’t need the money, didn’t want the money, and need to get out from under the crippling penalties imposed by TARP, I’m going to start sending CNBC giftwrapped boxes of excrement with a note telling them to dig right in to the same stuff they feed us.

    Willful deceit.

  9. run75441


    Without a doubt, the removal of “usury laws” helped with the demise of manufacturing drawing the money from it to financial investments, creating little of value, speculative vehicles, and the simple exercise of passing paper. Warren needs all of the support she can get, something Born, Mack, and Dorgan failed to get in their stance.

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