Sunday, January 22, 2012

Harvard Professor Plays Populist

While we've all been concentrating on the South Carolina primary results, another interesting battle is being joined way up north. It's the entrance of Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren into the Massachusetts Democratic Senate primary, planning to run as the "common man" against incumbent Republican Scott Brown, who also ran as the candidate of the common man.

Warren wishes to regain the Democratic "Kennedy" Senate seat they lost two years ago when Republican Brown managed to re-dub it "the people's seat." Early indications are that this will turn out to be the battle of the populists. With Brown, there's unlikely to be anything new. He will likely tour the state in his pickup truck, wearing his simple outdoor jacket and telling his stories of being just plain folks.

For Warren, this is going to be a foray into fantasy. Turning the Henry Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard into an average Josephine is not going to be easy. However, Warren has already chosen her starting point. Since America is being run by the 1% super-rich, she has staked out her field of play as one of the 99% of oppressed powerless Americans. Early on, Warren grabbed every possible opportunity to support the Occupy Wall Street movement, and has continued to support the movement as it has metastasized nationwide.

Professor Warren is a self-styled "Okie." Well, she was born in Oklahoma City, so it's not entirely a lie. In one broadcast she said "I'm going for the hick vote here. I just want you to know. Maybe we could start wearing stickers that say 'Hicks for Elizabeth.' Could we do that?" There's a fine line between identifying with a group and mocking it, but Elizabeth Warren is counting on Massachusetts to see it as the former rather than the latter.

There also seems to be in Massachusetts a willingness to ignore a possible carpetbagger issue even though Warren has spent most of her life elsewhere. After Oklahoma, she has lived and taught in New Jersey, Texas and Pennsylvania. And then there's that little detail that until 1995, she was a registered Republican (of the RINO wing, of course).

One has to wonder if she will soon start campaigning in a pickup truck older than Brown's, being sure to carry at least one bail of hay in the truck bed. Warren lives in a $1.7 million dollar home, and tends to speak with the sounds of the Harvard Yard. It's a little early to see if she'll start broadening her "I"s to "ahs" and saying y'all, a la Hillary Clinton, but if she does she's likely to sound equally ridiculous. It's also hard to figure whom she is trying to identify with since Massachusetts has few farms left, and even fewer blue-collar factories. The biggest majority of the Bay State's "industry" is comprised of biotechnology, finance, insurance, and other clearly white-collar pursuits. Oh, and I almost forgot, academia.

Well, there's populism and then there's populism. Warren has chosen to identify with the blue collar worker and the rural farmer in a state that suffers from a paucity of both. That runs counter to the unfolding Obama plan to include suburban white collar workers, teachers, artists, lawyers, social workers, and psychologists in his definition of the 99% who comprise "the people." Maybe they're both counting on the voters to be mesmerized by their self-contradictory academia-babble and ignore their palpable elitism.

The "hick" candidate is a longtime academic theorizer and left wing Democratic operative. Interestingly, her legal career is also mostly academic, but her specialty is bankruptcy. She has long advocated for an agency which would tell businesses how to conduct their affairs, and was ultimately a major player in passage of the Dodd-Frank bill. After the Democratic sweep in 2008, she was appointed by Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid to the five member Congressional Oversight Panel to implement the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.

Warren was thought to be in line for the appointment as head of the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau created by Dodd-Frank, but was considered by the President's inner circle as a better choice for a state office. Obama selected Richard Cordray instead, and sent Warren back to Massachusetts and Harvard. Warren will not run against the Obama administration's policies, but has instead chosen a different populist path for her personal campaign. It will be interesting to see which version of populism works, if either.

25 comments:

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, all I can say is, never underestimate the capacity of those suburban white collar workers, teachers, artists, lawyers, social workers, and psychologists to see themselves as the little people/'po folks. Just like the farmers and blue-collar workers, really, only smarter, so they have the right to speak for the whole group. Even in Massachusetts, which hasn't been agricultural in about 150 years, it's not hard to win with this approach. Brown may have a fight on his hands with Warren.

Joel Farnham said...

She sounds like the "Genuine Artificial Imitation Sheepskin Bearskin Rug" of politics. It will be interesting. I do know that she is a socialist with communist leanings hidden behind democrat skirts wrapped up in a patriot flag.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: All true, and Brown's voting record hasn't been exactly stellar so far, so he's no longer the choice of the Tea Party (a genuine people's party).

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: Excellent description.

AndrewPrice said...

I don't give Brown much of a chance in Massachusetts. It's just too liberal of a state.

CrisD said...

It was fun to watch Brown defeat Martha Coakley( who is like listening to chalk on a blackboard).
I do agree with Andrew that they are much more prepared to steal it back with this Elizabeth Warren creature. She is a communist pure and simple. The dems up here love her thinking and they will come after Brown foaming at the mouth.

T-Rav said...

Very true, LawHawk; however, I would rather have him in the Senate than this nut. He may be living proof of Buckley's "most conservative electable candidate" rule.

Individualist said...

If she gets elected God help Massachutsetts...

They will need it

Tennessee Jed said...

I agree with Andrew's comment, Hawk. A Republican in Massachusetts has about the same chance as a Democrat in Mississippi or a Republican in San Francisco. Still, Elizabeth Warren appears to personify the worst of the Democrat party . . . the cheezy, elite, academic posing as a "just folks" voice of the common man. Hell, even the Kennedy's did't try and sell that B.S.

Tennessee Jed said...

And as Rav mentioned, Brown may be a RINO, but he at least has an (R) label at a time it would be nice to have a majority leader in the Senate as well as the House.

rlaWTX said...

T-Rav makes excellent points about self-delusion. Those same folks feel like they are the repressed middle of the 99% while making closer to the 1%.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: I tend to agree. The Tea Party really did its job, there was rebellion in the air, and Brown was the more appealing candidate. This time, the Democrats are determined to take back "their" seat in a state where being moderate/left just isn't good enough.

LawHawkRFD said...

CrisD: That sounds about right. Unless she goes completely bananas somewhere along the campaign trail, she's likely to win with her leftist agenda, fake populism and all.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: We talked about that back at the time of the election, and tried to caution people who instantly wanted to run him for President that he was just way too liberal for the Republican Party. But we also cautioned people about expecting too much of him in Massachusetts, and even a RINO "R" helps add up to a Republican majority with all the perks that implies.

LawHawkRFD said...

Indi: Massachusetts (along with California) fits the description "God-forsaken."

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: She truly is so far left she's ready to fall of the edge of the earth. An Oklahoma Commie in King Kennedy's Court.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: I hadn't seen your comment yet when I made responded to T-Rav (above). Understanding the big picture is important when deciding on state candidates for federal office. Yeah, Brown's a RINO, but he also puts an R in the caucus total, and we need every R we can get. As T-Rav pointed out, he is Buckley's description of the most conservative candidate who could be elected in the People's Republic of Massachusetts.

LawHawkRFD said...

rlaWTX: Leftist elitist Democrats have a huge capacity for self-delusion.

T-Rav said...

I guess I could spin this as one more reason for holding a brokered convention and thus maybe wind up with a solid conservative candidate who could give a shot in the arm to GOPers across the board. But who knows.

tryanmax said...

Hard to tell, but judging from your article, it sounds like she is fully planning on overplaying the populism thing. In a state like Mass., that might be the only hope Brown has.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: I'd like to see that, but I'm not holding my breath.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: I had the same thought. Brown can do "populist" without having to practice it. She must sound absolutely ludicrous, and when she turns on the cornpone, she may just turn some of the fence-sitters off.

Thachapi Tom said...

Hawk
Ben Franklin had the solution to our political problems. He said in 1787 that "making our posts of honor places of profit" would invite corruption.
That was at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia during May of that year.
That might not go very far in curing the budget problems but would probably make our Congress a lot cleaner.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tehachapi Tom: Yes, and I remember when our current arrogant, overpaid, underworked, incompetent, lazy and unqualified public employees were actually dedicated to public service. We used to call them civil servants because that's what they did. Now we should call them public leeches that first numb the victim, then suck the victim's blood. Elected officials, are just better-paid leeches in far too many cases. They quickly forget that their job is to serve us ("public servants") rather than tell us how to live and where we should spend our hard-earned money.

Koshcat said...

I think there are a couple of things in Brown's favor. First, is that he is the incumbent and second I don't think he has done anything to piss off the average Mass guy or girl. He also did a good job connecting to the people. In general, people are more comfortable with who or what they know than making a change. From what I have seen, he represents Mass well with a little more conservative vote than Kennedy but still more liberal than most of the GOP.

Maybe I'm just an optimistic guy.

Post a Comment