Elizabeth Warren to Cherokee Nation: Sorry about that DNA test

I’m bracing for the Trump tweet about her being an “Indian giver” with her Cherokee identity.

This apology has been in the works for at least two months, with reports circulating as far back as early December that she was considering it. I wonder what finally forced her hand. Well, no, I don’t really wonder.

On Thursday, Ms. Warren called Bill John Baker, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, to apologize for the DNA test, said Julie Hubbard, a spokeswoman for the tribe. She called it a “brief and private” conversation. The apology was first reported by The Intercept. Ms. Warren’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“I understand that she apologized for causing confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and the harm that has resulted,” Ms. Hubbard said. “The chief and secretary of state appreciate that she has reaffirmed that she is not a Cherokee Nation citizen or a citizen of any tribal nation.”

Until now she’d been publicly defiant, for the normally sound reason that admitting to bad judgment is not a great look for a prospective president. I think she would have stuck it out and ignored her critics if not for the fact that many Cherokee were themselves irritated by her DNA stunt. On the day in October that she revealed her results, Chuck Hoskin Jr, the secretary of state of Cherokee Nation, unloaded on her. Then he doubled down in an op-ed published yesterday:

The right of a tribe to determine its citizenship is the most basic and inherent function of a sovereign government. But citizenship is a concept that many outside tribal governments do not understand…

[E]very day, people make claims of native heritage and Cherokee ancestry across the country to take advantage of laws intended to level the playing field for Indian Country. These claims, made for personal advancements by profiteers, are like a guest at my table saying they’ve had a seat there all along.

Letting a DNA test decide who is or isn’t authentically Cherokee undermines Cherokee Nation’s authority to say so and risks diluting the availability of benefits set aside for true Cherokee. Warren didn’t think about that when she published her DNA results in a bid to own Trump and put the issue of her ancestry to bed. Identity is a tricky thing in America 2019: Some you’re encouraged to try on whereas trying on others is a matter of “cultural appropriation.” Warren chose poorly.

And so the clock was ticking. She alerted the media yesterday that she has a big announcement planned for next Saturday, which will surely be the formal launch of her presidential campaign. Hoskin’s op-ed probably jarred her by making clear that not only were the Cherokee leadership not letting this go, they were prepared to insert themselves into the coverage of her candidacy just as she’s trying to turn the page. Meanwhile, actual minority candidates like Kamala Harris and Cory Booker are jumping into the race, leaving Warren to wonder when and how the issue of her dopey DNA test might be raised in contrast by the media to throw her off-message. The time for a “please can we let this drop so I can be president” apology was ripe. She did it to get it off her plate.

How can she make amends, though? Here’s one way that occurs to me via long-long-longshot Democratic candidate Marianne Williamson:

In the CNN interview, she also called for reparations for slavery, with $10 billion per year to be distributed over a decade.

“I believe $100 billion given to a council to apply this money to economic projects and educational projects of renewal for that population is a debt to be paid,” she said.

You’re not going to win the Democratic primary’s woke Olympics with anything less than half a tril on slavery reparations. But reparations to Native Americans for how they were persecuted by the U.S. government would be a fine pander for Warren if she’s desperate to atone. Or would that pander be *too* desperate, especially when the stench of desperation from her DNA test hasn’t yet dissipated? Eh, maybe she’s better off letting the whole subject drop. I’m sure Trump won’t mention it again if she’s the nominee.