Elizabeth Warren is my Senator, the senior Senator from Massachusetts, sitting in the chair once occupied by Ted Kennedy. She is the Howard Metzenbaum of her generation, the most pro-consumer member of the Senate that we have. She is, in my view, an exceptionally good Senator.
So why am I not supporting her for President?
Because she can’t win.
Okay, this is a somewhat sordid tale, that involves both likability and also misogyny. Personally, I like Elizbeth Warren. She’s kind of goofy, and it definitely doesn’t work when she tries to be cool.
The Likability Factor
Hillary Clinton was not elected President of the United States for one reason: not enough people found her likable.
Okay for two reasons: not enough people found her likable and the electoral college.
Okay for three reasons: not enough people found her likable, the electoral college, and Russian interference.
Okay, for four reasons: not enough people found her likable, the electoral college, Russian interference, and the idiocy of James Comey.
Put the point is that one of the reasons is that not enough people found her likable. And I understood that, because while I liked her well enough, I didn’t love her the way I loved Obama.
She seemed like the smart girl at the front of the class, always raising her hand before anybody else. She was Tracy Flick in Election. She so evidently felt entitled to be President. In this respect she was very much like Mitt Romney, who also felt so entitled to be President that he was willing to flip and flop on any position (especially abortion). He ran away from his signature achievement – the Massachusetts universal health care law – during the 2012 election because Republicans had demonized the Affordable Care Act.
So there are both men and women who can be so nakedly ambitious, so obviously entitled, that it doesn’t wear well on them.
But let’s face it, especially in Hillary’s case, there was also a lot of misogyny going on.
Which brings us back to Elizabeth Warren. She’s like a schoolmarm, someone about whom one has the sense that she always knows a little better than you.
I know this is unfair, but this is what it is. There are a lot of people who are not going to like her because of this quality alone.
The Mysogyny Problem
I’m not in the camp that I think every woman politician is unlikeable. Far from it.
- I think Kamala Harris is likeable. She seems tough as nails.
- I think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is likeable. She seems genuinely cool. (And the women can dance!)
- I think Kirsten Gillibrand is likeable. She also seems very tough.
Now, I recognize that if these women (or any others) were to become a genuine threat to be President, the misogyny problem is likely to raise it’s ugly hand. It already has. But still, I think it’s different for Elizabeth Warren and some of these other women.
And let’s face it, we elected at least two Presidents — Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush — because people thought they would enjoy having a beer with them.
The Liberal from Massachusetts Problem
By now it should be a rule of politics that no liberal Democrat from Massachusetts should be allowed to run for President. The road is littered with those from my home state who attempted this feat, ever since Jack Kennedy ran (and let’s face it, Kennedy wasn’t really a “liberal” by contemporary standards). These include:
- Ted Kennedy
- Michael Dukakis
- Paul Tsongas
- John Kerry
It’s not just Democrats from Massachusetts who have failed in this respect. Mitt Romney (arguably mostly from Utah) and Bill Weld (who ran for Vice President on the Libertarian party ticket) have also tried and failed.
The Pocahontas Problem
And then there’s the Native American “Pocahontas” thing. Warren mishandled this issue from day #1. Of course she used the “Native American” designation to buy herself an advantage as a potential minority, so that she would have a better chance at landing a job at places like Harvard. And when she was applying for the bar in Texas back in 1986.
That’s taking nothing away from her ability. By all accounts, she was a phenomenal professor at Harvard Law, and the other schools where she has taught (the University of Houston, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Pennsylvania). The point is that she didn’t need the Native American designation. She could have (and would have and maybe did) get there on ability alone.
What I don’t want her to do is capture the nomination and lose to Donald Fucking Trump, to be the second overqualified woman to lose to this effing quackjob. But a quackjob who still has a remarkable and disheartening amount of support in middle America.
Other Democrats Who Shouldn’t Run for President
It’s not like Warren is the only candidate that’s running that I think shouldn’t run. Others that I don’t think should run include:
- Joe Biden: too old (76) and his moment has passed (let’s not forget that Biden ran in 1988 and again in 2008, and that his 1988 campaign died on the plagiarism issue).
- Bernie Sanders: too old (77) and his moment has passed (lightning struck in 2016, but it’s not going to strike again).
- Tulsi Gabbard: too young (37) and inexperienced.
- Marianne Williamson: too new agey and without any political experience.
- Pete Buttigieg: too young (37) and inexperienced (Mayor of South Bend, Ind?)
- Howard Schultz: too much a billionaire businessman without any political experience, and potentially running as a spoiler.
If 2016 taught us anything it should be while it’s possible that anyone can grow up to be President, it’s not necessarily a good idea that anybody (especially those with no political experience) actually be President.
It’s a serious job and should only be for serious candidates.