Elizabeth Warren might apologize for her dopey DNA stunt

She may be to 2020 what Chris Christie was to 2016, the candidate who should have run four years earlier in a much smaller field as an outspoken insurgent against a lackluster establishment presumptive nominee. He missed his chance. By the time he finally took the plunge, he was less liked by his party’s base and saddled with baggage that he couldn’t unload. He ended up disappearing into a crowd of better alternatives.

Same with Warren, it increasingly appears.

One point in Christie’s favor, though: He would have had the basic good sense not to base his early candidacy on the results of a DNA test, particularly one which (a) made a mockery of the claim that test was designed to bolster and (b) was guaranteed to offend a minority group by reducing their cultural identity to genetic bean-counting. Even Democratic voters who like her and are otherwise inclined to shrug the episode off will be nagged by the worry that this isn’t the last own-goal she’ll score.

Advisers close to Ms. Warren say she has privately expressed concern that she may have damaged her relationships to Native American groups and her own standing with progressive activists, particularly those who are racial minorities. Several outside advisers are even more worried: They say they believe a plan should be made to repair that damage, possibly including a strong statement of apology…

Three people close to senior members of Ms. Warren’s team, who were granted anonymity to speak freely on the issue, said they were “shocked” and “rattled” by the senator’s decision to take the DNA test, which they described as an unequivocal misstep that could have lasting consequences, even on 2020 staffing. One former adviser, who also asked not to be named, called it a “strategic failure” that was “depressing and unforgettable.”

In interviews, several progressives wondered if Ms. Warren’s decision to take the DNA test was indicative of a larger problem for several prospective presidential candidates: that their inner circles of advisers don’t reflect the racial diversity of the Democratic electorate.

However much you’ve enjoyed conservatives dunking on her for this fiasco, I promise you’ll enjoy it more when Kamala Harris and her devotees are dunking on her for it during the Democratic primaries. Warren will spend the next year trying to atone for this in various ways but it’s too useful a weapon for Harris to ignore it. “We need a president who understands the plight of disenfranchised people of color,” she’ll say, “not one who’d give them DNA tests to prove who they are.” The eventual nominee will have to medal in the Woke Olympics, if not take gold. Warren is already out of the running for that.

The idea of a progressive as far left and willing to pander as Elizabeth Warren being branded a “soft” racist is only one of the many delights the coming primaries will bring us. We all understand how freakishly large the field will be but I hadn’t grasped the full potential for a trainwreck until I read this John Podhoretz piece flagging some of the dangers ahead:

What if the Democratic B-list [debate] panel has twice as many women on it as the A-list panel? You know that accusations of sexism and patriarchal dominion will fly fast and furious and will come to control the national conversation for a time…

Since the delegates awarded by the Democratic primaries and caucuses aren’t winner-take-all, but are assigned on a proportional basis, a multiplicity of choices could make it impossible for any one candidate to get a real leg up on the others.

Here’s another wrinkle: According to current Democratic rules, no candidate wins delegates at the state level unless he or she wins 15 percent of the primary vote. There could be states in which no one wins 15 percent of the primary vote. What will happen then?

Can’t expect “superdelegates” to break any deadlock on the first ballot at the convention either, notes J-Pod. They were stripped of that power a few months ago as Democrats scrambled to mollify Berniebros who resent that Hillary pocketed so many superdelegates early on in the process in 2016. They may end up with a process nightmare compounded by infighting about whether the party needs a class warrior like Sanders at the top of the ticket or a minority candidate like Harris or Cory Booker who better reflects the racial diversity of the Democratic coalition. There’d be potential for a serious party rift in that, if not for the fact that Democrats despise Trump and will smooth over any post-convention bitterness in the name of beating him.

As for Warren, an apology probably wouldn’t help and might even hurt, as it would mean that her campaign for president had begun with a major error by her own admission. Apologizing isn’t going to get Harris to lay off her later. Better to let it go and trust her acolytes to spin it for her going forward — “it wasn’t a mistake” or “even if it was a mistake, she’s still the best candidate for the working class.” Plus, if the two old-old candidates, Sanders and Biden, decide not to run, Warren may yet inherit a bunch of their support, making her the frontrunner. (It’s tempting to assume that she’d especially benefit if Bernie stood down but that’s not what the early polling shows.) I bet there are a lot of powerful Democrats, though, who are assessing the risk of a 40-car pile-up in the primaries and quietly leaning on Biden to get in, as he may be the only candidate with a big enough name to win all of the early primaries and wrap the race up early. If he runs, Warren’s unenforced error may end up being irrelevant.

David Strom 6:41 PM on September 26, 2022