Looks like the stonewalling strategy has failed for Elizabeth Warren, and now more questions about her honesty and integrity will arise. The Boston Globe reports today that Warren has reversed her earlier position of ignorance on her listing as a Native American, admitting that she listed herself at both Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania after being hired:
Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren acknowledged for the first time late Wednesday night that she told Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania that she was Native American, but she continued to insist that race played no role in her recruitment.
“At some point after I was hired by them, I . . . provided that information to the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard,’’ she said in a statement issued by her campaign. “My Native American heritage is part of who I am, I’m proud of it and I have been open about it.’’
Warren’s statement is her first acknowledgment that she identified herself as Native American to the Ivy League schools. While she has said she identified herself as a minority in a legal directory, she has carefully avoided any suggestion during the last month that she took further actions to promote her purported heritage.
When the issue first surfaced last month, Warren said she only learned Harvard was claiming her as a minority when she read it in the Boston Herald.
Warren’s new statement came after the Globe asked her campaign about documents it obtained Wednesday from Harvard’s library showing that the university’s law school began reporting a Native American female professor in federal statistics for the 1992-93 school year, the first year Warren worked at Harvard, as a visiting professor.
Earlier, I wrote that having the Boston Globe on the case was bad news for Warren. The campaign could no longer ignore the story as an artifact of the Boston Herald, which first started asking questions about Warren’s long-time identification as a Native American at Harvard, and Harvard Law’s promotion of the pale Warren as their sole “woman of color” on the faculty. When the Globe began digging up the contradictions, Warren had no option but to respond to it.
The attention to Warren’s claims in the Globe isn’t restricted to the news section, either. Local columnist Brian McGrory blasted Warren for pretending that a claim to an employer of membership in a protected EEOC class was only for social interaction. This issue may not be as newsworthy as taxes and economic policy, but integrity matters in public officials — and McGrory writes that this is entirely about integrity:
Of course, the stubbornly mediocre economy, fair taxes, the partisan rift that is swallowing Washington whole, these are all critical issues that should be discussed and debated almost every day in this US Senate campaign.
But let’s not ever lose sight of one true thing in this or any other political race: The most important issues are the candidates themselves, and more specifically, their integrity, credibility, and authenticity.
Which is why Elizabeth Warren’s Cherokee ancestry, almost certainly declared on federal forms by Warren herself and used by a pair of Ivy League universities to tout their diversity efforts, all without an ounce of proof that she has a drop of Indian blood flowing through her veins, matters. It matters a great deal.
Speaking as adults here, the elephant in the room is whether Warren wrongly claimed minority status to improve her prospects for being hired to teach at Harvard Law School, and before that, the University of Pennsylvania Law School. The more obvious question might even be, why else would she have done it? The public utterances of this uncommonly accomplished and otherwise eloquent candidate have so far ranged from lunacy to comedy, highlighted by her explanation about wanting to “meet others like me” and her recollection of an aunt describing her grandfather’s “high cheekbones.”
Now that Warren has admitted to telling a lie about how she got listed at both Harvard and Pennsylvania, the integrity questions will only intensify. At some point, Massachusetts Democrats will start calling Vicki Kennedy for the Toricelli option.