Elizabeth Warren chews on her metatarsals

February 1, 2020 • 9:00 am

As the campaign proceeds, I become less and less enamored with Elizabeth Warren, once my favorite candidate for President. (Now I have no overwhelming favorite, though according to the New York Times “issue quiz” I’m a centrist whose views align more with the policies of those like Yang and Biden. But, like most of us here, in November’s election I’ll be voting for whichever Democrat gets nominated. Trump is and will be a disaster for America.)

Still, I don’t like Warren’s dissimulation, her hectoring tone, her Medicare For All policy (which seems to be morphing into “Optional Medicare”), or the desperation she evinces as she falls ever farther behind Bernie and Joe in the polls.

That desperation is the only way I can account for Warren’s behavior this week during the impeachment hearings. As you probably know, Senators were allowed to submit written questions to Chief Justice John Roberts, who was formally presiding over the trial. Roberts vetted the questions, and Warren submitted one that had nothing to do with the trial per se, but everything to do with making herself look good. I found it embarrassing and irrelevant.  Here’s the question, with a video of Roberts reading it below that:

“At a time when large majorities of Americans have lost faith in government, does the fact that the chief justice is presiding over an impeachment trial in which Republican senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the chief justice, the Supreme Court and the Constitution?”

This isn’t relevant in any way to the impeachment save for reiterating something we all knew: the Republicans have made a sham of the hearings by refusing to admit evidence or witnesses, something I find disgusting and reprehensible. But Warren was asking Roberts to speculate ask others whether the Republicans’ actions delegitimized not just the Supreme Court, but Roberts himself. Yes, the court is highly politicized toward the Right, which is scary. But Warren’s question not only flaunts her “virtue,” but also accomplishes nothing besides trying to embarrass Roberts. It’s unprofessional and snarky.

Indeed, in the video below (sadly supplied by HuffPost, who probably thinks Warren’s question was great), Representative and Democratic trial manager Adam Schiff repudiates Warren’s question, properly saying that the GOP’s behavior reflects badly not on the Supreme Court, but on the Senate itself. Schiff’s statement is measured and eloquent.

And in the article below, CNN court reporter Ariane de Vogue suggests that Warren’s question might even have been counterproductive, getting at least one Republican to withhold a vote to bring in witnesses and evidence (it would have actually taken two more Republican defectors beyond Romney and Collins to get a 51-49 vote for the Democratic position).

de Vogue:

In announcing that she would vote against the Senate calling witnesses, Sen. Lisa Murkowski suggested that her decision was made in part to spare Chief Justice John Roberts from having to face a 50-50 tie, allowing him to avoid a legal and political storm.

“It has also become clear some of my colleagues intend to further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the chief justice,” the Alaska Republican said Friday afternoon.

Her statement appeared to be a direct response to Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a Democratic presidential candidate who had essentially forced Roberts to speculate about his credibility on national television.

Warren had submitted a question for the chief to read. . .

. . . Roberts, as part of his prescribed duties, read Warren’s query from the dais. Word for word without expression.

Now it seems Warren’s question was part of the reason Murkowski came to a “no” vote.

Murkowski said, “We have already degraded this institution for partisan political benefit, and I will not enable those who wish to pull down another.”

“I will not stand for nor support that effort,” she said.

Well, of course Murkowski and almost all the Republican Senators had already degraded the Senate by refusing to allow witnesses or written evidence, so her statement is hypocritical. And perhaps Murkowski would have voted the way she did without Warren’s gaffe.  Nevertheless, Warren has slipped yet another notch in my estimation, and I doubt I’ll be voting for her in the primaries. Even Bernie, who doesn’t dissimulate, seems a better choice if you want a “progressive”. But, as a registered Democrat, I’ll likely be voting more centrist, though I haven’t made up my mind.

95 thoughts on “Elizabeth Warren chews on her metatarsals

  1. “But Warren was asking Roberts to speculate whether the Republicans’ actions delegitimized not just the Supreme Court, but Roberts himself.”

    No, Warren was not asking Roberts to speculate. Roberts took no part in answering any questions. He just read them. All questions were directed toward the House Managers or the President’s Counsel, in this case the former.

      1. I don’t think Warren’s question was meant to embarrass Chief Justice Roberts; I think it was meant to embarrassment the Republicans for establishing impeachment trial “rules” that put the Chief Justice entirely on the sideline (rules that essentially relegated Roberts to the role, to borrow Brendan Sullivan’s colorful phrase from the Reagan-era Iran-Contra hearings, of “potted plant”).

        That’s not to say I found Warren’s question appropriate, much less wise. Questions from Democrats should’ve been addressed to the merits of the impeachment case and to the unfairness of the procedural rules the Republican majority imposed. I think Warren’s question was meant as criticism of those procedural rules, but it made the point in an indirect and maladroit manner

        The impeachment clause of the of Article 1, section 3 of the US constitution provides that the Chief Justice shall “preside” at presidential impeachment trials. What that means is not self-evident.

        It seems to me, nevertheless, that it would’ve made for an efficient use of available resources for the senate trial rules to have committed to the Chief Justice’s discretion the resolution of certain strictly legal issues — such as those regarding the “relevancy” of evidence and the applicability vel non of various evidentiary privileges (such as the “executive” privilege and the privilege applicable to confidential “attorney-client” communications) — since Roberts was undoubtedly the participant in the senate chamber “trial” best qualified to handle such issues.

        As it turned out, given that Republican senators voted along strict party lines to foreclose the introduction of any additional evidence at the impeachment “trial,” no such evidentiary issues regarding the admissibility of any proffered evidence ever became ripe for resolution.

        Under those circumstances, there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that the Chief Justice was going to risk diminishing the stature of the judicial branch by inserting himself into political disputes among members of the legislative branch.

  2. I admit that I’m paying almost no attention to the current kerfuffles involving Democratic candidates–for 2 reasons:
    1. I’ll vote for any warm body not named DJ Trump.
    2. I live in New York State, which is going to vote for the Democratic candidate, no matter what I do or do not do.
    Yes, what I’m saying is that my vote will not matter. Sigh.

    1. Yes, on #1. As for the other, a state that vote 99% against DJT is more meaningful than a voet of 51% against.

    2. I feel the same way. I am a Democrat in Vermont which has 3 electoral votes which will go to Bernie Sanders. We can choose either Dem or Rep ballot in the primaries. This encourages strategic voting.Last election, I asked for a Rep ballot so I could vote against Trump. It didn’t help, but it felt good to vote against Trump.

    3. My sentiments as well. I didn’t pay much attention to the impeachment trial either, as I knew what the outcome would be. Republicans have proven to be traitors to the Constitution. No surprise.

    4. I have the opposite problem. I’ll also vote blue no matter who, but I live in a solidly red state and my vote means nothing.

  3. If that’s the reason for Murkowski’s vote then it’s clear she had no interest in serving the country’s interest in the first place. She was going to find a reason to vote to avoid witnesses no matter what, IMO.

    1. I agree. It is an interesting but dark show to see the GOP senators explain their impeachment votes. I think they will do this officially on Monday. A few will slam Trump’s behavior in order to send a message to their voters back home though they will likely use weak words like “inappropriate”. Still, they risk Trump’s ire. I wouldn’t put it past him to lash out at them even though they let him off.

  4. Once I heard that Warren’s plan to fund her programs was to tax the imputed increase in value of homes – a tax on theoretical money that homeowners haven’t received – I concluded she’d have zero chance as a candidate.

      1. To be fair, we’re currently letting Trump appoint judges. I’d take a nine year old trans kid over that any day of the week.

        1. Many liberal people have the sentiment that “I will vote for ANY democratic candidate, does not matter what they stand for”, which is a strategy that might not win the election.

          Not enough pressure is put on the Democratic party to field a centrist candidate that will appeal to most Americans. (someone who do not pander to the vocal but minority woke)

          Can someone explain to me why on earth Warren would declare that she will give a child a veto on an important administrative position? Do the far left get a nice feeling in their tummies? Where are the adults in the party?

          1. I agree. It’s way too early to break out “I will vote for ANY democratic candidate, does not matter what they stand for”. Still, it is the right position to take in November.

          2. Color me cynical, but I’m having a hard time believing any republicans would vote for a ‘centrist democrat’. Pandering as though they might seems a waste of time.

            1. Swing voters do not exist?

              No introspection on how Hillary lost to the worst candidate in history?

              Do you think this stupid trans statement from Warren does not matter?

              1. Swing voters do exist. But currently, as I said, I’m skeptical that republicans will be able to abandon their tribalism and vote for a democrat, no matter how centrist they may be. Hillary lost for many reasons, and she isn’t running this time. This stupid statement means little, I think.

              2. I think people are forgetting the atmosphere in November 2016. Many thought Trump was a somewhat nasty person but also thought that he was just a hard campaigner. They might have thought he was a good businessman, would “drain the swamp”, look out for the little guy, etc. They hoped he would grow into the position, be raised up by the office, and be surrounded by smart people whose advice he would follow.

                All that’s out the window now. It’s just a cult. He has destroyed institutions on purpose. He takes advice from no one. I can easily imagine Republicans that voted for him in 2016 but won’t in 2020.

            2. After reading “How Democracies Die” by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, I agree with those writers. We need candidates that can build coalitions between unlikely allies. They document how this happened in numerous countries that had succumbed to authoritarian leaders and managed to defeat them.

              We’re an incredibly diverse country – we’re not all going to agree on every topic, to state the obvious. We need to rise above our differences and agree what matters most is defending our democracy, so we can continue the messy business of civilly working out our differences.

              “How Democracies Die,” by Levitsky and Ziblatt. In my opinion, it’s a book every American should read right now.

          3. “Not enough pressure is put on the Democratic party to field a centrist candidate that will appeal to most Americans.”

            Because I think most Dems realize by now that this game only works one way. Only one party is constantly told it needs to moderate itself and it cannot have what it wants regardless of how well its policy proposals poll among the electorate.

            Compare the following two statements and ask yourself how many times you’ve heard them in the past year:

            “Democrats are moving too far to the left!”
            “Republicans are moving too far to the right!”

    1. That’s her dumbest PR move yet. It happened at a Town Hall in Oct, but I just heard about it Thursday on Twitter. Can you imagine the attack ads?

      1. “That’s her dumbest PR move yet.”

        Do you think this idea came from her campaign team or is she just a naive emotional person?

        I find it strange that anyone in her campaign would consider this a winning strategy.

        1. I would guess it was an impulsive gesture to please the audience. I can’t imagine how any sensible campaign staffer would recommend giving a nine year veto power over an important appointment.

          1. If you’re expected to talk non-stop and give opinions on everything, you will get this. (Wasn’t it Kamala Harris? who in some Q&A encounter came out against paper straws against plastic, and how she didn’t like the paper ones.

            I think it’s the little, unplanned moments that do the damage.

            But, on the plus side *all* the democrats still use sentences with real words, and, unlike DJT recently, don’t ask their audiences to fill in what they *think* he would be saying.

            1. A good point. People are concerned about the “tone” of Democrats, when we have a president who shouts this at his rally in Iowa:

              “The Green New Deal, which would crush our farms, destroy our wonderful cows. They want to kill our cows. You know why, right? You know why? Don’t say it. They want to kill our cows. That means you’re next,” Trump said.

              I saw this and all I could think was, what the heck did I just read?

  5. Back in 2016, I lamented that Clinton & Sanders had not just joined hands, joined a ticket and made a statement of solidarity. I wish that the current dems would do the same. They won’t though, and the petty hectoring will continue on all fronts. I’m just so exhausted and dismayed by the whole thing.

  6. What I appreciate about the Democratic Party is that it has no shame about continually re-jiggering the rules to make sure things come out their way. Politico reported yesterday that party leaders are now thinking about undoing the rules change that would prevent super-delegates from voting on the first ballot at the convention, so that they have a better chance of squeezing out Sanders or Warren (https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/31/dnc-superdelegates-110083). Politico also reports that they are changing the rules for participation in the next debate, increasing the polling threshold, and eliminating the rule about individual contributions (https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/31/dnc-shifts-debate-requirements-opening-door-for-bloomberg-110017). This would have the effect of eliminating the interesting candidates who are polling low at the moment, and providing an entrée for Bloomberg. They clearly want their smoke-filled rooms before the convention rather that at the convention. The Democratic Party is going to be in serious trouble after this election, when its progressive wing leaves.

  7. Roberts behaved well during the trial. He protected the whistleblower for one thing. His statement on not breaking any tie votes was also reasonable. Dems should not risk pissing him off as he quite often votes with the liberal justices. Not that he would be swayed by Warren’s stupid question.

  8. Warren has a history of questionable judgment in my opinion, going back to trying to pass for a minority for supposedly having native american ancestry. And these things inevitably backfire. Plus, I think she is the most vulnerable to losing to Trump. I hope she’s not the nominee.

  9. Disagree with you on this one I’m afraid. I’ve always disagreed with the idea that people are automatically “virtue signaling” by publicly espousing a view that is judged to be primarily for an audience of people who already agree with that position. You never know who you might be reaching with a public position. I thought it was a great question to be forced to read for a public audience. Murkowski would NEVER have voted for witnesses if there were a chance her vote would count. There was never even the slightest chance any Republican would cave on that issue if there was any chance their vote would actually result in witnesses. The Republicans weren’t willing to be relevant to the impeachment, unless putting the impeachment on trial rather than Trump is considered relevant. So I’m okay with this supposedly irrelevant comment. Doesn’t hurt to call attention to the fact they were all hurting their public personas as well as that of the institutions they supposedly represent. I’m not stumping for her, I still don’t know whom I’m voting for in the primary. But I definitely don’t have any desire to dis any of the candidates until I know they would actually be bad, and I’m definitely not to that point with Elizabeth Warren. This is a picayune issue IMO. I’m not sure about the funding for medicaid issue – I will have to do more research – but I know she is making money a big issue, which I think is extremely important – going after dark money/corruption.

    Does Andrew Yang actually have a chance? I’ve liked him ever since I first heard him on Sam Harris’ podcast, but haven’t taken his candidacy too seriously since he doesn’t seem truly viable. I might be wrong about that and I’m interested in hearing other opinions.

    1. I agree with you on Yang. He has had a lot of good things to say and is appealing. He is also way younger than seventy years old. But I don’t think he is a viable candidate. I like him being in the debates because I think he makes sense and gas a good understanding of the economy and how it works. His one thousand dollars a week to everyone will sink him. George McGovern wanted a guaranteed annual income to everyone back when he ran in 1972. Did not turn out so well.

        1. Any combo of the following would please and motivate me (in order of preference).

          Klobuchar, Yang, Bloomberg, Buttigieg.

          (It is curious to me that Klobuchar gets underlined in red as I type this, but Buttigieg does not.)

          1. I think they are viable candidates for 2024. Any candidate moderate enough to win the 2020 general election won’t be progressive enough to win the nomination. This will ensure Trump’s reelection. I hope I am mistaken.

            1. I think Ms Klobuchar will do well in the Iowa caucus. She is from the area, and Iowans are well aware she probably would attract the independent votes needed to win the EC in the Midwestern states, most of them swing states, where Ms Clinton lost the EC.
              And if she does well in Iowa, I guess all bets are off. She has obviously a mountain to climb, eg. re ‘Black’ voters, but she appears not to shrink.

    2. I have to agree with you about Elizabeth Warren.

      I’ve always liked Yang too, and recently he was humble enough to indicate that he’d like to serve his country in whatever capacity, if he’s not the Dem. nominee.

  10. I do not think the question made much sense but as Historian mentioned, it was not for the Chief Justice to answer. Possibly would have made a bit of sense if the supreme court had been removed from the question and it was just about the Constitution, but still not much of a question. The mess that we know as the Senate of the United States is mostly self inflicted and not caused by other branches of government. It is a big part of what is wrong with our form of government and has been since the beginning. However, if anyone is to blame for that today, it is the people. It is their government and their Senate. Had they left the Senate as this strange separate branch of legislature with state appointed representatives, it might have turned out better. But for whatever reason, it was changed to the people voting for these folks and we have what we have. It does not speak highly of the voters.

    1. I agree 100% on the Seventeenth Amendment. Thanks to that amendment, the Senate acts like it represents the people as much as the House. Bring back senator appointments so they know their place.

  11. I don’t believe that Republican Sen. Murkowski withheld her vote b/c of the question by Warren. It was most likely just an excuse to take a swipe at the Democratic candidate. She would have come to the same decision, regardless.

    1. Reminds me of when conservatives made claims to be boycotting Hamilton because of that whole Pence thing. They weren’t going to go, regardless.

    2. Of course Warren’s question wasn’t the reason. She was never going to vote for witnesses and she followed up with one of the most confusing statements ever:

      “Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed.”

      So, rather than attempt to have a fair trial, with witnesses, documents, and facts, for instance, she decided it was better to just forget the whole thing. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

    3. Sad.

      Murkowski is not even up for re-election until 2022, and even then, she does not seem particularly vulnerable. She once won her Senate election via a write-in campaign, fer Chrissakes! (After having narrowly lost the primary). That requires deep popularity among her constituents. I thought those factors would’ve given her enough independence to do the OBVIOUSLY right thing, and hold a fair trial to hold off American despotism.

    1. According to 538, she isn’t even doing all that great in Massachusetts. She’s in third, behind Biden and Sanders. In contrast, Biden and Sanders have gigantic leads in their respective states (Delaware and Vermont).

  12. A question for our american friends:
    Who is your favorite candidate and who do you believe most likely to defeat Trump?

    (as an outsider I am a bit disappointed with the characters, I only like Yang)

    1. With me it is usually not who I like but who Zi dislike the least. This year is no different. I rule out Warren and Sanders as too intemperate, too old too rigid and too progressive. Yang is not viable. Bloomberg I don’t like. That leaves Biden, Amy and Pete as pretty much a tossup but edge goes to Pete. Don’t like Pete’s foreign policy as much as Amy’s position to bring our troops home but still would choose Pete.

      That is an example of the way this Americanthinks and the process I use to rationalize the decision my unconscious mind has already made for reasons my conscious self will never know.

    2. My Favorite Candidate was Mr Inslee, but he’s out of the race.
      I think that Ms Klobuchar is most likely to win the EC, to defeat Mr Trump in other words, if she were the Candidate. This is because Mr Trump will be (if at all) defeated in the Mid West. All this is regardless of whether I like her best or not at all.

      But then, I’m not a US-ian either.

  13. Warren’s comment was snarky and cynical and trolling Edwards as if he just read a mean Tweet. I think it further distances us from her because it reverts to the finger-wagging school marm stereotype that she’s been trying to outgrow.

  14. Senator Warren’s question and hectoring tone, plus some of the characters around Uncle Bernie (see https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/297961/weekend-at-bernies?utm_source=tabletmagazinelist&utm_campaign=169725530a ) are getting to be something of a turn-off. I know a very intelligent couple, with views probably similar to those of many WEIT participants, who are so turned off that they may not vote at all in November: they may instead spend that month in a country with sensible politics, namely Mexico.

    1. So your intelligent friends prefer Trump to someone with a “hectoring” tone. Because not voting is akin to a vote for Trump and Republicans. There are other offices at issue, after all. This says more about your intelligent friends than it does about Warren.

    2. I guess it depends on where your “intelligent friends” live. If they live in a red state, not very intelligent at all.

    3. Not voting in what may probably be considered the most important election of their life-time, where the very fabric of US democracy is at stake, does not sound very intelligent to me. I’m sorry.

  15. This is the 2nd or 3rd Warren backfire in recent weeks. Her desperation is becoming sort of embarrassing. And if the goal is to beat Trump, he will eat her alive. She has left a trail of ammunition 1,000 miles long.

  16. I’m sure someone must have said this already, but “I’ll vote for anyone who isn’t Trump” is neither a winning strategy nor an enviable position to be in. We have all those people already; what we need is someone who will pull votes from outside the “anyone but Trump” pool.

    IMO there are only two candidates who are likely to do that: Tulsi Gabbard and Michael Bloomberg. (Possibly Biden with the right running mate.) But I don’t like Gabbard, you say? My point exactly: people critical of the Democrats do like her and you’ve already committed to voting for her regardless.

      1. I mentioned Gabbard to a friend who is from Hawaii. His immediate reply was that she was a Republican, but runs as a Democrat because it is impossible to be elected in Hawaii as a Republican.

        1. “His immediate reply was that she was a Republican”

          My point exactly: who better to pull in votes from people who lean Republican but don’t want to vote for Trump if they can find a viable alternative? Meanwhile, she’ll get all the votes from the folks who would vote for a fencepost rather than Trump. Seems perfect.

  17. As bees to honey, trolls to politics. So let’s troll on. Trump is a pathological liar and a serial sexual harasser. So, what’s new? Policy-wise, however, we might prefer someone less swampy. His Cabinet, too, is the very flower of swampiness.

      1. Seconded!

        But, to return to reality, let me repeat. Old cotton-eyed Joe is the only opposition candidate whom Mr. Trump found sufficiently threatening that he cooked up the whole Ukraine drug deal recently filling the news.

        1. Well Mr Biden was leading the polls, so it was natural to target him first. It is/was difficult to specifically target all 22 in one go, methinks.

    1. He has been spending a lot of money showing commercials on the Atlanta stations. Like it that he is spreading his money around some. Half are negative the rest are about how he knows how to get things done and fixed health care and other problems in New York City.
      Since he has not been in any debates don’t know much about him.
      Do know I think he is too old to be running.

  18. So I hear the impeachment hearings – which I support on account of justice, albeit they are a political process – has come back to bite the Democrats since few show interest in the Democrat primaries.

    Oh well, we all know by now that the current Democratic Party simply isn’t interested in replacing Trump. They refuse to promote affable, centrist candidates. So the world will have to stand the buffoon another 4 years.


    1. An odd take on things. Who’s more affable and centrist than Biden, who leads in the polls and is the choice of the DNC?

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