2:00PM Water Cooler Special: Warren Goes Rovian by Signal Boosting and Fundraising Off a Poorly Sourced Politico Hit Piece

I suppose the Warren campaign’s recently-released “claws out” nail polish merch was a sign of things to come:

(Of course, I like cats because they don’t display herding behavior, and don’t react well to appeals to “unity,” so I’m not sure I understand the appeal of the merch. But I digress.)

For a quite awhile, the Warren campaign’s ethos was defined by “plans“; a series of white papers — I believe over sixty — released by the campaign to general applause in the political class for wonkishness. That ethos seems to have been abandoned in the wake of Warren’s butchered rollout of her #MedicareForAll “pay for” and “transition” plans, which neither peeled off Sanders voters, as she surely must have hoped, nor satisfied centrist Democrats. Falling between two schools, Warren flailed. She now seems to have abandoned “I’m with Bernie,” in favor of attacking Sanders directly, using Karl Rove’s classic tactic of turning an enemy’s strength into a weakness[1]. (For example, the Democrats nominated John Kerry in 2004 on the strength of his war record. Rove managed to turn that into a weakness by “swiftboating” him.) This would imply that Warren has concluded that a Sanders/Warren “unity” ticket is unlikely; she may also have concluded — as we might speculate, given that she released a bankruptcy “plan” that undoes all the work on bankruptcy Biden did as a Senator, but then didn’t go on to attack him — that a Biden/Warren ticket might be in the cards. We shall see, I suppose.

The particular Sanders strength that Warren is attacking: the volunteer operation of the Sanders campaign[2]. Here is the sequence of events: Politico released story including a script for Sanders volunteers to use, attributed (falsely) to the Sanders campaign, putatively attacking Warren. This story instantly propagated through the press, the Warren campaign signal boosted it and complained of being “trashed,” and then instantly fundraised off it. We see this sort of media flap often; the next step in the ritual sacrifice would be for the press to hound Sanders for an apology or clarification, and the step after that is for the press to hold him to the newly established baseline for what he must continuously abase himself for. (Matt Taibbi discusses this behavior in Hate, Inc., but doesn’t give a name to the process. Oddly, this flap has not yet reached the apology stage.) The only problem arises when you actually read the original Politico story: Politico’s sourcing is dubious; the problematic script was not authorized by the campaign; and the script has not been shown to be fielded, which makes Warren’s initial complaint a lie (“Bernie is sending his volunteers out to trash me”). Further, her fundraising letter appeared with suspicious rapidity. So, first I’ll look at the original Politico article; then, I’ll look at its propagation and how the Warren campaign leveraged it; and finally I’ll look at the possible effects on the Sanders campaign.

Here is the original Politico story, by Alex Thompson and Holly Otterbein (Warren campaign embed): “Bernie campaign slams Warren as candidate of the elite.” (Note that’s the sexed-up headline the editors wrote; the reporters original headline is in the URL: “bernie-quietly-goes-negative-on-warren.” No clicks in “quietly”!).

Sanders’ campaign has begun stealthily attacking Warren as a candidate of the upper crust who could not expand the Democratic base in a general election, according to talking points his campaign is using to sway voters and obtained by POLITICO. The script instructs Sanders volunteers to tell voters leaning toward the Massachusetts senator that the “people who support her are highly-educated, more affluent people who are going to show up and vote Democratic no matter what” and that “she’s bringing no new bases into the Democratic Party.” “I like Elizabeth Warren. [optional]” the script begins. “In fact, she’s my second choice. But here’s my concern about her.” It then pivots to the criticisms of Warren. The Sanders campaign did not challenge the authenticity of the script, but it declined to comment. The Warren campaign also declined to comment. It is unclear whether the script is being used for phone calls or door knocking or both, or in which locations.

(“The Sanders campaign did not challenge the authenticity of the script, but it declined to comment” and “the Sanders campaign declined to comment” have exactly the same content, logically. That “but” is doing a lot of work.

Now, there are a few problems with Politico’s story:

  1. Politico does not give the provenance of the script
  2. Politico does not show that the Sanders campaign authorized the script
  3. Politico does not show that the script was fielded

One would think that RussiaGate would have taught us that single-sourced, anonymous sources should be approached with a hermeneutic of suspicion, but apparently not. Let’s take each of these issues in turn.

Politico does not give the provenance of the script. Here is the best explanation I have seen, which in the absence of further reporting, if that is the word I want, from Politico, I’ll regard as true[. (I give it credence because the author is a member of the Kings County Democratic Committee.)


Politico does not show that the Sanders campaign authorized the script. The Politico story is utterly devoid of context. There is no institutional setting and there is no documentary matrix. The script appears, magically, and is said to be used, magically. That’s not plausible:

Politico does not show that the script was fielded. Here is the only example of the script “out in the wild” that I can find:

(The Twitterer left off the “\s” tag.) In fact, it’s extremely dubious that the script would ever be fielded, since it would involve a total redirection of the Sanders volunteer operation three weeks before Iowa, akin to asking an giant container ship to turn on a dime. For the script to be fielded, the Sanders campaign would have to change all the material available to the public:

The Sanders campaign would have have to change all its training materials:

The Sanders campaign would also have to change the agreement they’ve made every volunteer sign. See point 3:

The universal reaction I saw, from many, many Sanders volunteers, was “they tell us never, ever to go negative or attack another candidate.” Given the above, that’s certainly reasonable. (Of course, “they would say that,” but I didn’t see any signs of coordinated, inauthentic behavior, like similar wording, or tweets from old accounts with low follower numbers handles ending in lots of digits.)

Now, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask a news-gathering organization — if indeed that is what Politico is — to ask and answer such basic questions: What is the provenance of the script? Did the campaign authorize the script? Was the script ever deployed in the field. But they did not, and other news-gathering organizations — if indeed that is what they are — simply repeating Politico’s story in different words. (CBS; New York Times; New York Magazine; The Week.) The coverage, such as it was, was a complete debacle, and from flagship organizations, too.

So, given the initial Politico story, what did the Warren campaign do? (What they did not do: Call Warren’s good friend, Bernie Sanders, and ask him to rein in a rogue volunteer.) First, the Warren campaign sent their candiate out to be, well, economical with the truth[2]. From the New York Times:

“I was disappointed to hear that Bernie is sending his volunteers out to trash me,” Ms. Warren, of Massachusetts, said. “I hope Bernie reconsiders and turns his campaign in a different direction.”

Again, the script was posted to the campaign site by some rando and deleted, there is no evidence that the Sanders campaign approved it, and there’s no evidence that the script was deployed in the field (and it’s highly unlikely that it could have been). It’s sad that Warren chose not to apply the same critical thinking skills as a Presidential candidate that she would insist upon when grading papers from first-year Harvard students, but that’s where we are.

Next, the Warren campaign doubled down with a fundraising letter based on the putative script:

It is perhaps at this point needless to say that the Warren campaign is as economical with the truth as Warren herself; there is no evidence that the Sanders campaign “is instructing” volunteers using the script. The timing of the mailer is also curious, since it appeared in a less than a news cycle:

One might almost imagine that the Warren campaign had advance notice that the Politico story was going to run.

* * *

Concluding, I said I’d look at the implications for the Sanders campaign. I’ve consistently urged that the Sanders campaign has a unique tripartite structure that makes it independent of the Democrat apparatus; (1) the Sanders campaign has its own list, (2) its own canvassing operation, and (3) its own media operation (lots and lots and lots of videos, lots and lots and lots of tweets). Those are, in other words, the three strengths of the Sanders campaign that a Karl Rove would attack (besides the candidate himself, and the donor operation that flows from the candidate’s ideology and list ownership). Warren (and Politico) are attacking strength #2: The canvassing operation. If they can poison the well of the Sanders door-knocking, texting, and BERN app operations — with which other campaigns are not able to compete — then they will do significant damage to the Sanders campaign. (A little scorched earth, perhaps; a little anti-democratic; but politics ain’t beanbag.) What the Sanders campaign has going for it is the volunteer troops themselves, whose physical presence and commitment may end up outweighing whatever poison is emitted by the Warren campaign and Politico; and their third strength, their independent media operation. The flap and the moral panic we are seeing now is internal to the political class (the press, the campaigns, and probably their silent partners in the intelligence community). But that political class lives in a bubble, and it may be that the Sanders media operation has already inoculated the voters, outside that bubble, against whatever messaging they can construct. We shall see!


[1] For those who came in late, Karl Rove, known as Bush’s brain, was a famously vile and effective Republican political operative. With his help, Bush won two terms, so pragmatically he’s not a bad model to follow. From Prospect Magazine, quoting an interview with Rove by Chris Wallace of FOX:

WALLACE: You’re famous in campaigns for turning your opponent’s strengths into weaknesses. How do you do that?

ROVE: You look at what they claim to be strong on and see if they really are strong on it. And many times, what people tend to offer up as their strength turns out to be actually a weakness when you examine it further. For example, the claim by Senator Kerry in 2004 that simply because he’d served in military service, which is laudable and patriotic and worthy of personal recommendation, somehow made him capable of being a strong war leader, when his views and values and approach would have been wrong in a time of…

WALLACE: But some would say go after their weaknesses. Why is it so effective to go after strengths?

ROVE: Because again, sometimes people’s strengths turn out to be really big weaknesses. We tend to — you know, people tend to sometimes in campaigns accentuate things that they think are big and important, and they exaggerate them. And more than anything else, people want authenticity and reality. People are pretty smart. They look at somebody running for office and they don’t see them as all good and all bad. They see them as, you know, human beings trying to do their best.So if you exaggerate your strong points, it generally gives an opening for people to say, “Well, you know what? Maybe that person really isn’t somebody that deserves….

[2] A oddly simultaneous second front was opened today: see here.

UPDATE From the only adult writers on the block apparently, Teen Vogue, we get more from the Politico reporter on provenance

Needless to say, it’s a very, very long leap from “Paid for by Bernie 2020” to “has begun stealthily attacking Warren.” Who signed the invoice? As a former hot-shot consultant, I’ve billed for plenty of work that never saw the light of day. And it’s not enough to say the campaign didn’t deny it. For one thing, the campaign isn’t obligated to do a reporter’s legwork for them; for another, a campaign has a lot of people working for it, and if I worked for the campaign, I’d certainly want to run the story down before saying anything.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Politics on by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. anon in so cal

      Bookmarked for later. Here’s more on the “second front.” It’s looking as though the Warren campaign is going to try to take down Bernie Sanders as Warren implodes.

      ” ‘Ludicrous’: Sanders Refutes Claims Made in Anonymously Sourced Hit Piece by CNN About Warren Meeting”

      “Amid fresh warnings that progressives in the U.S. should be on guard against efforts by the corporate media to sow division between the Warren and Sanders campaigns, CNN came under fire Monday afternoon after publishing an unsubstantiated hit piece that cited anonymous sources—not even in the room at the time—claiming Bernie Sanders privately told Elizabeth Warren in 2018 that a woman could not win the presidency.”


      1. Plenue

        And now Warren has come out and said herself the meeting happened and he said what her campaign claimed he said.

        So now it’s literally ‘he said, she said’. Except the she part has already demonstrably lied about Sanders in just the last 36 hours or so. What a joke.

  1. Parithea

    Wow. Looks like Trump isn’t the only one who could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and get away with it.

    If it ain’t true, tell the campaign to deny it. I like Bernie Sanders but this year – as well as 2016 – he seems to have some really shitty people working for him. Makes me wonder what a Sanders’ White House would be like.

    1. Grant

      To focus on Bernie at this point seems way off. Politico and the Warren campaign have a ton to answer to. Letting them get off without explanation or defense is ridiculous and forces the Bernie campaign to answer to something it shouldn’t. That essentially supports this attack against him. I prefer to hit those pushing it, and think showing how ridiculous it is should be the area of focus. Cause this is going to happen and again and again, and Bernie will simply not be able to focus on issues or anything positive if the expectation is that he has to directly respond to every ridiculous attack thrown his way. He has a chance though in the debate to confront her on this, and he better. What she has done is horrible and she should be ashamed of herself.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          You read the post, but did you miss the part about the campaign denying it? Why are you spreading falsehoods?

        2. Yves Smith

          Oh, so now you are admitting to straw manning? That’s a violation of our written site Policies.

          This comments section is not a chat board. Commenting is a privilege, not a right. You are rapidly accumulating troll points.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Perhaps you and Bernie could get a room?.

          Hey, that’s really mildly amusing, although since I’ve been blogging about domestic politics on a daily basis for sixteen years, and have a hide like a rhinoceros, I’ve seen it deployed before, and it doesn’t sting.

          However, you need to have enough respect for the site to check its policies, which forbid ad hominem attacks.

          > I did read the post.

          I must have been unclear. I didn’t mean “read” as in “skim and emit talking points,” I meant “read” as in “study carefully and engage with the content.” For example, you wrote:

          he seems to have some really shitty people working for him

          In fact, the person who posted the memo was a volunteer and didn’t work for the campaign; that is precisely the point. I’m also sorry you don’t feel that all Sanders staffers are nice. Politics doesn’t always attract the nicest people. The same is true, sadly, of drive-by commenters.

        4. DJG

          Wowsers, Pasithea, but I hope that you aren’t indulging in that tee-hee-hee gay-sex stuff that infects so much of liberal criticism of Trump and Putin, now are you?

          To make a larger point, one of the reasons that the liberal wing of the Democratic Party (Biden, Warren, Buttigieg, Harris) has run aground is exactly this lack of moral seriousness. Dare I mention lack of political program? The post above points out repeatedly that Sanders volunteers are required only to talk about policy.

          In a country that has no trade policy, no industrial / jobs policy, a minimal environmental policy, policy has great appeal, yes, even to the deplorable voters of Iowa.

      1. dcblogger

        a great analysis. thanks for putting this together, I have shared it around. no way to know, but it looks like Warren is listening to Neera Tanden. The test for Bernie’s campaign is to stay focused. There are several old videos of Bernie saying that a women could win, and his campaign has been sharing those around.

      1. Parithea

        “The Sanders campaign did not challenge the authenticity of the script, but it declined to comment.”

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          What are you going on about?

          Someone wrote it and posted it on the discord. The campaign denied authoring it. Stop being spreading falsehoods.

        2. Plenue

          It was authentic. Someone wrote it, posted it, then the campaign deleted it (which means they rejected it). It was never used, and is in fact antithetical to the strategies of the campaign.

          I hope whatever offspring of Correct the Record you work for declines to pay you for this particular effort, because it’s extremely poor on your part.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          Normally I rarely bold, but to maintain symmetry: You understand, do you not, that “did not challenge the authenticity of the script” is not the same as “agreed the script is authentic”?

          1) “Authentic” is doing a lot of work there. Sure, the document was posted to Slack. In that sense, it’s “authentic.” Was it really billed for? Show me the invoice. Did the campaign bless it? Show me that. (Of course, if there were real reporting done on this, such information would already be known.)

          2) If I were the Sanders campaign, I would want to make 100% sure of the story, before issuing a definitive comment. The nature of the authenticity is what I would want to determine. So would you, if you were in their position.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      How many of those “really shitty people” were really false-flag Clintonite saboteurs? I remember reading about a lot of that in the 2016 campaign . . . . the official Democratic apparatus sending all kinds of Clintonite saboteurs into various local Sanders offices, etc.

      In fact, this question smells like a David flying BrockMonkey Clintonite question to me.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Dear Parithea . . . or is it Pasithea?

        My comment appeared so far down the subthread that I thought I had better note that this comment of mine was intended as a reply to your first comment.

  2. Bill Smith

    What’s all the complaining about “thinly sourced” about? Haven’t we been through years of that with very few complaints? Think Russiagate.

    1. Plenue

      NC and its commentariat have been dismissive of ‘Russiagate’ from day one.

      Amusing to watch the bots and paid agents used so badly. You need to tailor your scripts better; you’ve chosen a terrible place to try deploying the standard disinfo packages.

  3. pretzelattack

    does politico take the position that since h clinton didn’t deny the authenticity of the emails we should accept they are all true?
    a random user sounds like political dirty tricks, and as far as i know that must be true since politico hasn’t denied it.

  4. Barbara

    I wrote 75 postcards for Bernie to be mailed to Iowa voters. We were asked to write why we were supporting Bernie. The approach was positive. I have never heard anything from the campaign that was in any way underhanded in terms of opinions or tactics that were anything but on the up and up. I have read Bernie supporters online write things that Sanders would never say. This is their own frustration speaking, not the campaign.

    They gave us an example of the type of message to send: It was from a teacher who talked about frustration of teachers with funding of education, low pay, having to buy supplies themselves and how Bernie’s policies would change things and important it was to participate in the caucuses for Bernie.

    They gave us an extra card to practice our handwriting (who hand writes these days?) so that our messages would be legible. I wish I had kept the instructions they sent – I’d send them to you.

    I wrote 10 postcards a day. My hands couldn’t take more than that, and the last two of every day were not my best handwriting. In fact, I put a footnote on every card *-please forgive the arthritic penmanship.

    I feel sorry for Warren. I like her, but she made her own mess. You can’t be glib when you’re running for office and the facts you’re glib about can be checked. And she keeps doing it.

    1. Donald

      I wouldn’t feel too sorry for Warren. She has the press on her side.

      And look what happened to Corbyn. He had dedicated volunteers and was still successfully smeared into political oblivion.

  5. WheresOurTeddy

    Biden is the beneficiary of all this. He only has to go 3 more weeks until Iowa and he’s almost made it through without a single news cycle dedicated to his Iraq war vote

      1. Bugs Bunny

        Or Student Loans excluded from bankruptcy.

        Or his relationship with credit card companies in Delaware.

        Or his plagiarism.

        Or the Ukraine nonsense involving both him & his prodigal son Hunter – Fox this morning was pushing that he & Hunter would have to testify during the impeachment trial.

        Or his roving hands…

        1. Telee

          Or his cooperation with republican senators, Strom Thurmond and James Eastland to write the anti-crime bill which was racially biased and fed the prison industrial complex. And now he emphasizes his ability to work with the other side of the aisle.

  6. John k

    Maybe she can burn bridges to Bernie because biden promised something… but he can’t deliver, his donors won’t accept her. Surely she knows that?
    Or maybe she’s making a Hail Mary pass, then gives up, and retires with unspent campaign donations.

  7. Michael

    My deepest condolences to Warren, who must truly be distressed that Sanders would betray their friendship in such a public manner. But if it’s any consolation, Sanders’s shocking actions provide satisfactory casus belli for anything Warren needs to do during the last few weeks before Iowa to inject life back into her campaign.

    Never mind that certain details of these stories might require retraction. There’ll be a new story by then:
    “Debate: Warren fires back after Sanders dismisses the idea of a woman president“! Powerful stuff!

    1. Yves Smith

      Wowsers, did you read the piece? There is absolutely zero evidence that this little bit of dirty work came from Sanders, let alone his campaign. Your comment goes awfully far into “making shit up” terrain.

    2. Grant

      God are hacks like you are sad people. You probably have a decent resume, maybe went to a good school, and this is how you have decided to use that accumulated intellectual capital. You come to blogs like this that write about interesting and important issues and you say things that you know are nonsense, just so some crappy politicians and interests can maintain their power. Pretty pathetic.

      Bernie betrayed her by some staffer posting a mild and accurate critique of her supporters on an app that was quickly taken down. How do logical people conclude that she is the person to go against Trump if that is viewed as a big deal? If Tanden or Brock pays people like you to post this drivel, they’re suckers.

      1. Michael

        I was certainly attempting irony, but I forgot Poe’s law. I’ll take a bit more care on future comments.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          The internet is a very poor place to attempt irony, sarcasm, etc. I wish fewer people would attempt it. Or no people at all, ideally.

  8. aj

    As of me writing this comment (6:03 pm CST) the CCN video “Sources: Bernie Sanders told Elizabeth Warren that a woman couldn’t win” has 472 likes and 5,700 dislikes. All the comments are trashing CNN. Its’ still up on the front page of CNN.com though. Sadly CNN removed comments on their articles ages ago so we can’t see what the non-YouTube crowd thinks.

    Source: (trigger warning for those who can’t stand MSM)

  9. chuck roast

    So, Candidate A’s staff see that things are not going well for their candidate, and determine that the Mr. Nice Guy thing is no longer working. It is time sling some mud at Candidate B. A’s staff has two objectives; 1.) plausible deniability for Candidate A, and 2.) make Candidate B look like a dirty pool player.

    A’s staff place a Fifth Columnist with B’s volunteer forces with specific instructions to sling mud at Candidate A on behalf of Candidate B. A’s staff is in position to immediately pick up on B’s volunteer’s abuse of Candidate A and amplifies it including sharing it with sympathetic stenographers to see that the bogus mud gets distributed widely.

    If the amplification is deafening enough and the fifth columnist disappears quickly, A’s staff is in the clear, Candidate B is left to clean up the debris, and Candidate A is as pure as the driven snow.

    The trick is to really disappear the fifth columnist.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Where is Jack Ruby when you need him?

        In some motel room in Northern Virginaa, right now, watching TV in his underwear and waiting for the phone to ring. Why?

  10. Annieb

    The whole thing just reeks. Warren had an opportunity to check it out. All she had to do was contact Bernie. The fact that she said nothing is certainly revealing. Cross her off my list. I am sick of this kind of corrosive dishonesty. No vote from me, even if she is the Dem candidate.

  11. divadab

    Well it’s a dirty business and Warren is as dirty as the rest of the bribe-taking cheating scum, apparently. Go Bernie!

    1. kimyo

      did warren go far enough that sanders can now take the gloves off and pummel the ever-loving holy crap out of the ‘cheating scum’?

      if not, what will it take? to me, his actions suggest that he doesn’t comprehend the nature of the depraved beast he’s up against (aside from warren, there’s obama’s promise to block him and clinton’s calling him a ‘russian asset’).

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well, as that great political analyst Ronald Dumsfeld once said . . .

        ” We go to politics with the Sanders we have, not the Sanders we wish we had or would rather have at some future time.”

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I don’t believe her and find her phrasing to be weasely , but I would say climate change being so pressing for Warren to take the eye off the ball is a demonstration she isn’t fit to be President along with other factors such as running away from Medicare 4 All and bringing in Madeline Albright. Instead of reversing the US foreign policy directory, she is clearly embracing the mistakes of the post Cold War error.

        Striking against the climate change policy candidate when a climate change denier like Biden is out there is frankly treason against everyone younger than Warren.

        1. DJG

          NotTimothyGeithner: I know you are reliable, but I have to check. Warren brought in the tottering Madeline Albright?

          The woman who thought it is a-okay to starve Iraqi children to death?

          As we say around there, that’s clarifying.

      2. Jeff W

        Warren’s confirmation is inconsistent with other facts:

        Ryan Grim confirms via Twitter that Sanders encouraged Warren “to run in 2016 and her refusal to do so was the main reason he decided to enter the race.”

        Grim further says “That’s not how [Bernie Sanders] talks. His explanation, that he said Trump will weaponize misogyny, makes more sense (and is obviously true).”—which is what I thought initially and find a lot more credible.

        As for the other “Bernie’s trashing me!” claim: as the post amply indicates, that seems to run directly counter to the explicit guidance of the Sanders campaign and the experience of campaign volunteers, so it, too, lacks credibility. (Of course, the Warren campaign isn’t touching the substance of the “trashing”—that the people who support her are “highly-educated, more affluent people”—because, well, that might highlight that those are, in fact, the people whom she is primarily addressing.)

        How any of this helps Warren, who has had questions about her credibility come up before, is anyone’s guess—I would not be surprise if these, like so many of her other gambits, end up backfiring.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I didn’t have a chance to address the substance of the script, no matter its provenance.

          Everybody knows that the Sanders strategy is to bring non-voters and discouraged voters into the primary and the party (and to get them to vote for him). That is Sanders’ theory of change (as opposed to Warren’s insider-driven, “seats at the table” theory of change).

          Everybody also knows, having read their Thomas Frank, that the base of the Democrat party shifted, certainly by Bill Clinton’s time, from the working class to the professional managerial classes (PMC), hence NAFTA, union-busting, identity politics, etc.).

          Everybody also knows that Warren’s base is firmly in the PMC.

          And everybody also knows that Warren herself, personally, is in the PMC and shares those values and interests (“capitalist to my bones”).

          So the the script is exactly what Warren’s most hysterical pearl-clutchers think it is: An assault on Warren’s candidacy for its narrow base; an assault of the right to rule of that base; and a demand that the party refocus on working class voters.

  12. The Rev Kev

    So the question remains. Did Warren do this mini-campaign off her own bat or did the DNC come to her with this plan for a promise of support for her campaign? Either way, Bernie is no longer likely to say something like “Elizabeth Warren is a good friend of mine…”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      On her own. The DNC, in my view, doesn’t operate like that. There would be no explicit promise (but OTOH the entire Beltway would breathe a sigh of relief if Sanders were taken down, so I assume Warren would receive many plaudits, material and otherwise, from her grateful populace.

  13. Jim

    A poor attempt at humor: It’s all well and good that “The flap and the moral panic we are seeing now is internal to the political class (the press, the campaigns, and probably their silent partners in the intelligence community). But that political class lives in a bubble”…, but what if the bubble’s name is Rover?


  14. Daryl

    Ah, the desperation is beginning to set in. Going to become pretty ugly, well, uglier from here on out, I expect…

  15. lyman alpha blob

    re: the ‘jaylen brown is my son’ tweet

    I may be reading the comment nesting incorrectly, but it seems like the ‘it’ in the comment you reference, lambert, is referring not to the script calling Warren a candidate of the uppercrust, but another script that is obviously sarcasm not to be taken seriously (and pretty hilarious).

    An example:


    If they are leaning Buttigieg:

    I understand. But have you seen his stupid rat face?

  16. KLG

    Reminds me of “I never saw him (Bernie Sanders),” way back in February 2016. But I was actually surprised (a little) at that statement by John Lewis.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      From the guy who challenged Julian Bond to take a drug test after a whispering campaign against Julian Bond. It wasn’t really surprising.

  17. ObjectiveFunction

    “first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”

    Looks like the DNC and Blob are now into stage 3 although Trump (probably with better instincts) is still at stage 2 with the ‘Crazy Bernie’ shtick.

    1. foghorn longhorn

      This is just the first salvo in what is going to be a very bloody primary.
      They’ve been flogging biden, warren and buttigieg for damn near a year and the dogs aren’t eating the dog food.
      After bernie takes Iowa, the gloves will really come off. It’s just good preparation to deal with the orange man.
      Waaa, bernie said a woman can’t win, well billary proved it. She lost to oblama and trump.
      Much ado about nothing.
      Wait til they tee off on bernie’s wife, shant be long now.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I think that you missed a bit in your quote. It actually goes-

      “first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then they have Politico run a smear piece on you, then you win”

  18. ObjectiveFunction

    At the risk of being ‘lookist’, I will dare to observe that Senator Warren looks great under the lights: she has terrific skin and muscle tone for a slim 70 year old white woman, and radiates energy. I suppose it could be photoshop, but I see the same in video feeds. She’s also done a good job making her body language less (transplant) Yankee school marm stiff and awkward. This stuff shouldn’t matter, but it does, especially for women.

    All four of the leaders, the Bern included, have worked hard on their visual presence. Say what you will, this smile and a shoeshine stuff ain’t easy, even for seasoned public figures.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Reminds me of my Mom, who studied the issues, thought deeply about them, then canvassed and worked for Adlai Stevenson.
      On the night of the election she was riding the bus home and a woman behind her said to her friend “I’m voting for Ike, he’s got a nice smile”. Her pal agreed.
      So my Mom saw her own vote go up in smoke.
      P.S. if this is your level of political engagement and analysis then please stay home

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        P.S. if this is your level of political engagement and analysis then please stay home.

        Ha ha, hardly. It is equally foolish to dismiss such things though. If you haven’t been bypassed in your career by a much less experienced person with ‘good hair’, count yourself fortunate.

        For all the tin ear, pandering and superficiality of the Warren campaign, I am just noting that this is one area where she is working very hard and the results show. No more haggard shrill baring-the-lower teeth stuff from this Senator… or else she’s saving that War Face up for Mr. “Look at that face.”

        Lost my faith in politicians / They all seem like game show hosts to me….

        1. Yves Smith

          Since you brought it up…

          Huh? Lambert and I have discussed at some length that we (yours truly in particular) are put off by Warren’s campaign look, which is seriously school-marmish.

          First, she has taken to wearing long stretched-out looking sweaters that look like she hauled them out of mothballs to look woman of the people ish. They also play up her thinness. That is not a good look in an older woman. Thin = loss of muscle mass. vulnerability to bone breaks in a fall, dangerous wasting if hospitalized. Data on the aged confirms this. Being a bit porky is way healthier for the elderly.

          In other words, her body looks old and fragile and her manner of dress accentuates that. Older women should ALWAYS wear structured clothes. Makes them look more powerful and robust.

          Second, while she may look good by the standards of pols (particularly ones like Pelosi that have tons of sun damage and got plastic surgery early when it was less good than now), I hang out at a geriatric-skewed gym now and also saw lots of women of a certain age in NYC. She’s maybe in the top 40%. Good but not as good as you make out, particularly when you know how much difference good makeup and lighting make on TV (20 years).

          Third, on the hair, her hair is dirty all the time. This bugs me to the degree I’ve commented to Lambert about it months ago. She used to have her hair nicely blown out when she first got to the Senate. Her unkept look at best says, “I’m too busy to care” or at worst, “I don’t have time to take care of myself.”

          1. mle detroit

            I call BS, Yves. As it happens, I made the same wardrobe decision years ago: one color (black, everything goes with it, and it slims my “pork”), change it up with a colorful jacket or sweater, which basically means I haven’t had to think about clothes ever since. And hair? You want her to be Ivanka??

            PS to BS: I’m all in for Bernie. He’s got the flat-out best GND plank and I have three grandchildren.

            1. Yves Smith

              My goodness, curious to see you so triggered by this remark. And pray tell what is your expertise for reaching your conclusion?

              I’ve done television repeatedly, including mainly doing my own makeup (Which BTW is very different than what any woman would wear in normal life), and presented to boards and CEOs. I’ve also been complimented regularly by TV pros for my choices. Have you?

              And you haven’t denied that her current clothing choices make Warren look even thinner, which is a bad look in an already quite thin older woman. Lambert and I independently reacted negatively to it, as have others when I have raised the issue with them. It makes her look frail.

              For starters, please tell me how many TV presenters or women pols have hair that looks greasy and unkempt when all it takes with hair as short as hers is more frequent washing and a blow dry. She doesn’t have a layered cut, which would be fussy to dry, so it is not as if this is a time sink.

              Second, go look at how she dresses on the road now v. how she dressed earlier in the Senate. She already had a uniform, which is what you seem to be arguing for. Did I ever object to that? Your comment is a straw man.

              Warren once wore structured clothes. Her designer is known for making wrinkle-resistant clothes that travel well. She had a wardrobe that worked so she could just have gone shopping in her closet. Yet she chose to change during her campaign to body-unflattering clothes instead, apparently to play up her “regular guy” image when her former wardrobe was quite understated and did not say money or status except to people who recognized it (comparatively few women who would typically think better of her, and frankly, that designer isn’t very expensive at all and I don’t particularly like the quality of the tailoring, but to each their own).

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > All four of the leaders, the Bern included, have worked hard on their visual presence

      I don’t mind such analysis as long as its technical; it is, after all, part of the game.

  19. Adrienne

    Lambert, this post is a beautiful act of public service. Thank you, once again, for putting on your yellow waders.

  20. Carey

    Time to send the Sanders campaign more money!

    Thanks for showing us (again) who you really are, Senator Warren.
    Flailing, failing campaign dynamics can do that to some, I guess.

    1. Jeff W

      “Thanks for showing us (again) who you really are, Senator Warren.”

      Unfailingly. It’s extraordinary, really, just how lousy Warren’s political acumen is and how regularly and thoroughly she demonstrates that.

  21. The Rev Kev

    Can you imagine what would have happened if the Sanders campaign had started a story that in a meeting between Bernie and Warren in 2018, that Warren had told Bernie that America wasn’t ready for a Jewish President?

  22. dcrane

    Just sent my next donation to Sanders. I wonder how much Liz’s campaign has boosted his funding with this trick.

  23. David Carl Grimes

    Maybe Bernie meant that a woman can’t win the Presidency on identity politics alone.

    Hellary smeared Obama in 2008 and yet Obama still made her his Secretary of State and hired a lot of Clinton staffers. Maybe Warren thinks Bernie will do the same thing for her.

  24. Scoaliera

    Just to add to this, as a Sanders volunteer recruit who’s been on that Slack:

    (1) It’s easy to get an invite to one of the volunteer fora (which are carefully walled off from the professional staff fora). Anyone could have written up anything and posted it there for long enough to take a screenshot of it.

    (2) I’m not sure what the “Paid For By Bernie 2020” is supposed to prove. If you’re writing up a script you’re proposing that the campaign use, even if you’re a mere volunteer, it would be reasonable for you to follow the format you’ve seen the campaign use, and there’s no obvious reason why you wouldn’t include the boilerplate. And that’s if you’re acting in good faith. If you’re not acting in good faith, all the more reason to make your document look as authentic as possible.

    (3) Anyone can see the phone scripts. They’re publicly available; the campaign encourages you to preview them before you even sign up and dial in. And given the number of volunteers and calls going out, if this had been live on the phones anywhere a lot of people would have seen it. You’d have immediate confirmation, both from people who’d used it and recipients of calls who’d heard it. The idea that this could even have been a “scoop” is incompatible with the report itself: if it were happening we’d know without the need for any supposed leaks by confidential sources.

    This part really seems like journalistic malpractice by the Politico team. It’s just so obviously implausible that an ordinary reasonable person would be on guard, and want to make sure they weren’t being played.

    If it weren’t for that fundraising email ready to go, I’d have fingered a Buttigieg supporter for the trickster. The calculation would have been, maybe this hurts Sanders directly and maybe it doesn’t, but if EW doesn’t make threshold at a caucus her supporters have to go somewhere. And maybe if they think Sanders has been trashing them, those who’d otherwise go to him will pick us instead. That at least makes sense, where I don’t see how it made sense for Team Warren to do this. But there was that email. So what the hell do I know?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If it weren’t for that fundraising email ready to go, I’d have fingered a Buttigieg supporter for the trickster. The calculation would have been, maybe this hurts Sanders directly and maybe it doesn’t, but if EW doesn’t make threshold at a caucus her supporters have to go somewhere.

      Thanks for the perspective on Slack. Yes, my thought (before the email) was that this was a Buttigieg thing that “just happened” to fall into Warren’s lap and benefit her, because of Buttigieg’s intelligence background.

      Then came the Warren camp’s sexism smear, which is outright ratf*cking*, so I changed by view of what Warren was capable of.

      NOTE * I am amazed. My online OED does not include “ratf*cking”! For those who came in late, this should help. WikiPedia:

      Ratfucking is an American slang term for political sabotage or dirty tricks. It was brought to public attention by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in their non-fiction book All the President’s Men (1974). Woodward and Bernstein’s exposé reports that many staffers who had attended the University of Southern California (“USC”)—such as Donald Segretti, White House aide Tim Elbourne, Ronald Louis Ziegler, H. R. Haldeman, and Dwight Chapin—had participated in the highly competitive student elections there. UPI reporter Karlyn Barker sent Woodward and Bernstein a memo, “Notes On the USC Crowd”, that outlined the connection. Fraternities, sororities, and underground fraternal coordinating organizations—such as Theta Nu Epsilon and their splintered rival “Trojans for Representative Government”—engaged in creative tricks and underhanded tactics to win student elections.[1][2] Officially, control over minor funding and decision-making on campus life was at stake, but the positions also gave bragging rights and prestige. The tactics were either promoted by or garnered the interest of major political figures on the USC board of trustees, such as Dean Rusk and John A. McCone.[3][4] It was here that the term ratfucking had its origin.

      Karl Rove was a master of this art.

      1. neighbor7

        wait—I thought “ratf**king” was OED’s Word of the Year(TM) a while back!!??

        (but no… too bad, it’s better than “climate emergency,” “youthquake,” “squeezed middle,” “refudiate,” and “hypermiling.”)

  25. Deschain

    After Sanders’ reply to Trump today, he should clap back on Warren with ‘I didn’t tell her a woman couldn’t win. I told her she couldn’t win, because she’s a terrible campaigner’

    1. Plenue

      His best response is to continue to stay silent. If someone brings it up at the debate respond how he already has:

      “I didn’t say that, here’s what I actually said…”

      “Are you calling Senator Warren a liar?”

      “Senator Warren is a friend of mine. If she recalls the conversation differently, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. I encouraged the Senator to run in 2016; I only ran when she declined to. Why would I have wanted her to run if I didn’t believe a woman can win?”

      1. Darius

        I didn’t say that and Elizabeth knows it. Nevertheless, I appreciate that Elizabeth said she would never address it again, and agree with her that we should move on.

  26. meeps

    During Clinton’s 2015 Bernie Bro smear I searched the word progressive to see what the goog would upchuck. The righthand column produced a gallery of images of HRC and Warren together. I don’t think that result was inaccurate; the two politicians are squarely in the same camp. They are both former Republican liberals whose policy habits tend toward incremental reforms to markets.

    Warren’s unwarranted use of misogyny to punch left reeks of Clinton’s operation, the same that cost her the Presidency. This move will likely do no more than to satisfy and infuriate the same people it did before. Thanks, Liz, for dragging us all through that muck again. Who doesn’t want a repeat, am I right?

    I hope the Rovian test of Sander’s strength is met especially by his women’s caucus. Women for Sanders were strong with the force in 2016, and I was particularly offended when third way feminists used my sex to shame me for my support of Sanders. What a wretched corruption of feminism. The races being lost by women are lost because they are equally committed to the corrupt system that their male counterparts are. AOC won her seat because she’s committed to change.

    The nail polish is just stupid.

    1. Darius

      Liz is running for Biden’s vice president. The joke’s on Julian Castro, because that’s what he thought he was running for. Unless he was dumb enough to think Liz was in it for real. Unless she’s dumb enough to think she’s in it for real.

  27. richard

    K. Kulinski brings up how utterly matter of fact this material seems. Not to mention true. Even if it had come from the sanders’ campaign, so what? What a bunch of creampuffs.

  28. Bill Carson

    This exposes Warren’s character flaw that goes all the way back to her claiming status as a Native American: she will lie to gain an advantage.

    Now she’s playing the ‘woman’ card. Heck, this nearly rises to the level of a false rape allegation.

    This illustrates why Warren cannot beat Trump. Many of Trump voters’ grievances go all the way back to affirmative action, and they will not ever support a person who has wrongfully claimed minority status in order to be awarded a position they did not deserve.

    1. DJG

      Bill Carson: Thanks for this. I have been thinking along these lines, too. Up above, Lambert Strether writes that there is no word in Taibbi’s article for the phenomenon of false charge / forced apology / triumph in a media cycle. It may be raft&cking. It may be pure propaganda, a word we don’t use enough these days.

      You bring up character flaw. When a character flaw plays out in public so evidently, maybe I’ll propose a term, Revenge of Sophocles. When the character flaw shows how unsuited a person is to carrying out public business, maybe I’ll propose Revenge of Oedipus’s Résumé. That darn Sophocles.

      The problem with Warren has been pointed out here repeatedly by Yves Smith, Lambert Strether, and other commenters: Warren has terrible political instincts. As you point out, her bad political instincts and poor sense of timing mean that she is revealing serious character flaws in spite of herself.

      The irony is that she has chosen the wrong masters (people like H Clinton and M Albright), people who have come up with such sterling moments of too-clever-by-half like “basket of deplorables,” “wipe the hard drive?,” and “special place in hell.”

      Her lack of understanding of the Cherokee Nation, of its rules and traditions, and her lack of curiosity managed to get her into trouble with Trump.

      Now we are at the level of knock-off Bret Kavanaugh he said / she said–which is surely a source of this particular tactic.

      Next up? Warren trots out the inevitable Claire McCaskill to maintain that Bernie is an unreconstructed commie who walks around the house in Brezhnev’s bathrobe.

      Next up? It is already fairly common in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party to take no notice that Bernie Sanders would be the first Jewish president. I am sure that someone at one of the campaigns is having deep thoughts about how to use anti-Semitism tactically. Likely: Bernie isn’t Jewish enough? He was once caught putting peanut butter on a bagel? More likely: Skepticism of Israel is anti-Semitic.

      1. Bill Carson

        Yes, the knives are out. We knew these attacks would come. It won’t take much for Bernie’s opponents to rekindle the irrational resentment that HRC’s backers expressed in ’16. Hey, I want a woman president, too, but policies are more important than the candidate’s sex.

  29. christofay

    Obama sent the signal to support Warren earlier. A Sanders win will be a repudiation of Obama and decrease his sales value. Warren is just taking the whip of being the establishment candidate, but the Obama wing has man-handled her before and can easily do it again; she’s safe no matter the lefty talk (already diminished so nearly there). She had already tacked right that was supposed to happen after she gets the presidential nom after it was too late to have regrets.

  30. JBird4049

    Only 294 days remaining of this marvelous political bullshit reporting and poo flinging reasoned discussion about the possibilities of keeping the American nation in an actual functioning democracy. Oh, and the ecosystem’s probable collapse due to climate change.

    (Starts whimpering)

  31. christofay

    Also if others haven’t already mentioned this, the special op dirty trick is launched now that Sanders is being recognized for being in lead in the pony race. This op is not about building up Warren but tearing down Sanders

  32. fdr-fan

    These “somebody said something about somebody 20 years ago” routines are only interesting to the media and intense partisans. Normal people aren’t keeping up with every episode of the soap opera, so they have no idea what the kerfuffle is about.

    Normal voters only want to know what the candidate will DO for or against them.

    1. Plenue

      What’s really fun is the multiple video clips that are more than 20 years old of Sanders explicitly saying women can and should be leaders that are being shared around in response to Warren’s lie.

  33. makedonamend

    Whatever Senator Sanders does, he must not react like Jeremy Corbyn did in the UK with the bogus anti-Semitism charges. Sanders would do better to react like President Trump would in similar circumstances. Sanders can’t afford to be seen to directly react to the accusations. It appears weak. President Trump often comes out attacking in similar circumstances.

    My take on what Sanders should do –

    (Sanders) “I just want to respond this way: to my supporters and especially my hard working volunteers, I want to say that the people attacking me personally are afraid. They’re afraid that I will give a voice to American working families so that they get a larger slice of the economic pie, that we’ll heal the sick, that we’ll reduce stress and anxiety for the average American, etc…” (obviously I’m not a political speech writer)

    Then the campaign just needs to not respond to the personal attacks. Sanders can more than handle this dust-up.

    Also, a few other observations from Ireland:

    That Senator Warren’s campaign chose to attack Senator Sanders rather than the national front runner Senator Biden tells us who her campaign fears most. She tried to be the candidate of substantial policies but she seems to fear the substantial policies of Sanders are more popular and well articulated.

    That Warren is basically saying that Senator Sanders is running some sort of ‘dirty’ or smear campaign is its self a form of dirty/smear campaign on Warren’s part – kettle pot thingy.

    That people who never have the intention of voting for Warren in any circumstances will still use forums like Twitter and so on to spread Warren’s attack. (Which doesn’t mean a conspiracy but simply your everyday dirty, partisan politics. hey ho)

    (my 2 cents worth, and properly priced)

    1. makedonamend

      And upon reflection, I should add that this is the first time I’ve seen real-politik analysis happening in real time. Rather than the corporate media filtering the event, we get far more comprehensive coverage and analysis from a website in 2020 than we’d have received as recently from the entire MSM in the 1990’s. Technology has good uses as well. NC and others are providing a valuable and instructive service.

      (Would dearly love to see the 2 New Yorkers sqaure off in a presidential race. One a person of wealth, the other from a working stiff background. One who inherited, one who worked his way up the political ladder – one rung at a time. Both with their own political skills. Would be USA epic. Historical even – possibly defining.)

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Or in Warren’s case, perhaps a kettle-mirror thingy.

        As in . . . the pot calling the mirror black.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I’d agree entirely, by apologising or worse still doing the ‘I apologise if something I said hurt your feelings’ type apology just perpetuates the story (unless there was a genuine error that should be apologised for). I’m surprised more politicians and public figures haven’t learned this by now from Trump. Boris Johnson certainly learned it.

      Sanders is going to get a lot of these types of attacks, and he needs a clear line of counter-attack, not defence. He needs to geggenpress. Your suggested line is a pretty good start.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > He needs to geggenpress.

        I understand the words at the Paste link, but not being a soccer — sorry, football! — fan I can’t really apply them to the Sanders case. Could you draw out the analogy a bit?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Gegenpressing in soccer means that when you are in attack, but you lose the ball, instead of falling back into defensive position (as generations of coaches have taught), you aggressively attack the man with the ball – the theory is that a team is most vulnerable just at the point that they are about to launch their own attack. Its become famous by its use by Jurgen Klopp, the German coach of liverpool. Essentially, its counter-counter attacking.

          There is a better explanation of it here. And i see its already been used in a political context by feminists (a shame, as I thought I’d just invented it as a political analogy).

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            So who are the players and who lost the ball? Sanders or Warren? What is the ball? Narrative control?

            (I’m not sure the Sanders campaign can play that way; they have always been deliberate in their responses.)

            Temperamentally, I’m all for approach, but: I think one aspect is that there is, basically, a Sanders team, and several other teams: Campaigns, the press, the political class in general, and silently in the background the intelligence community. With respect to the system as a whole, the Sanders campaign is relatively monolithic and homogenous. Swarming tactics would seem to be less their forte, then.

            1. Plenue

              Warren may have thought this would give her narrative control, but right now it’s looking an awful lot like she just took a shotgun to her own foot.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                Warren effectively doesn’t grasp the dire nature of climate change or the need for actual policy not long term plans to consider policy. Attacking the only candidate who does is bound to hurt her.

                Kerry could have retired with the Iran deal under his belt, UT he was getting dunked on and exposed in the last few days too standing with a segregationist and belittling the needs of the electorate as not being thought out and short sighted.

                Given the reality difference, none of these people’s brilliant campaign ideas are ever going to work out. The audiences are effectively so different.

            2. PlutoniumKun

              The point politically is to recognise that when a weakened political opponent goes on the attack, they are exposing themselves. If Rovian politics is to attack an opponents strong point, Gegenpressing politics is to attack your opponent precisely when they change their message to try to take the initiative, as its the point where a campaign changes direction that they can be at their most vulnerable.

              A gegenpressing response to Warrens attack would take forms such as:

              1. Express sorrow that your opponent has decided to take the low road.
              2. Openly attack the delivery messenger ‘It is sad that my opponent has employed rogue employees who chose to lie to attack my record and I demand that she fire the person who spread those lies’.
              3. Ju-jitsu the attack ‘I make no apology for pointing out my opponent is associated with the Clintons and big money, this sleazy attack proves my point.
              4. Own the smear. ‘I don’t apologise for telling the truth and I support my staffers when they do the same, even if it wasn’t part of agreed strategy’.

      2. makedonamend

        I’ll let PK explain gegenpress, as PK will do a far better job.

        My take is this: A total footballer is good at both defense and offense. You need the ball in order to score and win the game. You need your offense to take the ball way like a good defender is naturally supposed to do. When your defender takes the ball away from the opponent’s forward, the defender doesn’t simply boot the ball down field. They begin to set up an attack from defense.

        Here is short footage of the first All Ireland win for Tyrone in 2003. At about the 30 second mark, you begin to see total football being played. Defenders become attackers. Attackers become defenders. Defense is attack. Win the ball. Attack, attack, attack. Diminish the opposition’s options. Never give up. Win the game.


          1. makedonamend

            PK, you’re way too cynical :-)

            But the video does beautifully illustrate the point, and furthermore the commentary by the sports announcers actually enhance the point as well.

            Your deeper gegenpress explanation hits the spot. (I’ll suppose I should dig up another clip of Harte’s Tyrone team. Maybe the 2005 win ;-0.)

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Whatever Senator Sanders does, he must not react like Jeremy Corbyn did in the UK with the bogus anti-Semitism charges.

      Sanders must certainly not apologize, since he has absolutely nothing to apologize for. Not even a non-apology apology.

      He shouldn’t slip the punch. He should counterpunch. I like “my opponents have adopted these tactics are afraid.” No reason to even name the opponents.

      1. Donald

        He will be pummeled with this at the debate, which is the reason for the timing. I think he is going to accept the peace offering ( underhanded attack) by Warren and move on.

        And having just called it an underhanded attack, I think it is barely possible Warren misunderstood Sanders. If you read the NYT interview with him ( another underhanded attack, btw) he talks about how misogynist some parts of the country are. I cringed a bit, because while true of some people it sounded like something that could be spun as a Clinton style comment on deplorables by Trumpists. I don’t think the NYT people would even notice.

        But I am digressing. Anyway, I could imagine Warren hearing similar remarks and thinking that Sanders doesn’t believe she can win.

        Also, while Warren participated in part 1 of this attack, pearl clutching about someone questioning her electability ( you are only supposed to do that about Sanders) it would not surprise me if part 2 was sprung on her and she didn’t know how to react. I don’t think she is very good at politics, dirty or clean, and she might be being manipulated a bit by some of her staff. This is all speculation but she and Sanders are or were friends up until now.

      2. XXYY

        I have written many times in the past that Bernie in person is an extremely dangerous counterpuncher, a skill no doubt honed during many decades of hostile and disingenuous media encounters.

        You can see examples of this almost daily: Sanders is asked some kind of “gotcha” question, he briefly rejects the premise, then uses the opening to make extremely damaging additional points on the subject (or a related subject) at some length while the questioner looks stiffly on with an increasingly forced smile.

  34. PlutoniumKun

    It seemed to me that Warren’s strategy from the beginning was not to follow some fence-line between the centrist and progressive wings of the party, but to position herself as the progressive centrists could live with, and the centrist progressives could live with. Its a pretty good trick if you can pull it off, and in my opinion would have been by far her best road to success.

    This attack from her on Sanders seems premeditated and is clearly a departure from her previous strategy. For me there are only two possible explanations for this:

    1. Her campaign is panicking and they see a swing to centrism as the last chance for her, and the last chance for her staff to grab themselves a job with the DNC later.

    2. She has done a deal with Biden (or maybe Buttigieg?) – her role to be the kamikaze to take out Sanders in exchange for the VP (or other) post.

    I find it hard to see what sort of deal she could have made that would be attractive to her. Would she really want to be VP? I can only see that as attractive if she suspects Biden will be carted off after an election after a diagnosis of dementia so she can rise to the top. But she must know its much more likely that she would be sidelined as VP in a way she can’t be if she is in the Senate. Unless I’m reading things wrongly. I also can’t see at this stage that she would trust Biden or anyone else to guarantee her some job she wants, such as S. of the Treasury or Fed, etc. She is too old to hope VP could be a springboard to another election.

    So I think that for now, no.1 is the most likely. This is good news for Sanders as a disintegrating Warren campaign can only benefit him in the longer term.

  35. none

    Lol Jimmy Dore:

    So now we have to choose who is lying, Bernie or Warren. And I’m not gonna be the one to accuse a Native American of lying. Just not gonna go there.

      1. Judith

        Yes. Nathan Robinson brings great moral clarity to the analysis and provides a good list of Warren’s history of not telling the truth.

  36. Brooklin Bridge

    FWIW, a query at DDG brings back am awful lot of MSM braying (in unison or on script) about the WarrenRove attack; the point being this is a serious, coordinated, all out effort:

    Query (admittedly leading on purpose): “Sanders says a woman can’t be president”


    Elizabeth Warren says Sanders didn’t think a woman could be … -USAToday.com
    Sanders didn’t think a woman could be president, Warren says … -lasvegassun.com
    Bernie Sanders didn’t think a woman could be president … -ChicagoTribune.com (just a flat out statement as if “fact,” not even a ref to accuser)

    Snip… (ten or so more or less identical headlines)

    More sources are confirming Sanders told Warren a woman can’t … -theweek.com

    And then finally, just beneath the event horizon, and from FOX no less:
    Video surfaces of Sanders saying ‘a woman could be elected … …

    Snip…(ten or so more Bernie’s a woman hater headlines only now with mixed slant as implied by phrasing)

    relevance disintigrates into unrelated items that have mere word matches …

  37. XXYY

    Even assuming Warren and Politico are 100% honest and acting in good faith here, this has to be the weakest and most creampuff “trashing” of an opponent’s campaign in US political history, and that includes high school student body elections and the Cub Scouts.

    “people who support her are highly-educated, more affluent people who are going to show up and vote Democratic no matter what” and that “she’s bringing no new bases into the Democratic Party.”

    Really? This is trashing? This seems like a pretty factual description of Warren’s demo and at least a partly flattering one. If I were going to make a federal case about something my opponent said, this would not be it. By the same token, an argument against this being a setup or false flag operation by Warren’s campaign is the utter banality of the “attack”.

    Bernie routinely calls Trump a corrupt pathological liar, a xenophobe, a racist, and a sellout. Trump doesn’t turn a hair, no doubt understanding that (a) this is normal in politics, and (b) getting all offended and outraged by this kind of stuff just makes you look weak and thin-skinned.

Comments are closed.