Even if she ultimately runs, I’m far more skeptical about Warren’s ability to actually beat the Hillary machine, in part because of the differences and similarities between the last inspiring progressive Senator who stole Hillary’s rightful place on the throne. The Obama nomination came out of nowhere – the explosion of an organic internet-driven fundraising challenger to the Clinton machine fueled in part by dramatic hopes for history-making achievement combined with a thriving cult of personality – and is unlikely to be replicated with Warren, who has nowhere near that kind of appeal nor the apparent ambition to go after the party establishment directly. That’s how she’s different.

But consider how she’s the same: for those Democrats on the fence between the two frames Scheiber describes (and I think there are a lot of them), the lesson of Obama’s presidency may turn out to put them off upstarts for a cycle or two. Forget ideology: doesn’t Obama’s eight years serve as a cautionary tale for the left of what happens when you put so much faith in an inspiring speaker without much experience in actually running things?