This particular parlor game was already getting old more than a year ago but apparently, we may be stuck playing it for at least another year. Roughly one month ago we saw Massachusettes Senator Elizabeth Warren slyly dodging questions about a 2020 presidential run. At the time I noted how her answers weren’t really answers at all and committed her to nothing. They were all carefully crafted in the present tense with no assurances that current conditions couldn’t change at any time without notice.
That’s why I was rather surprised to see a headline from Matt Stout in the Boston Globe yesterday which seemed to assert that Warren had made up her mind. She was going to serve out her full term in the Senate if she wins reelection this year. So, that’s all we need to know, right? Well… let’s take a look at what she really said. (Emphasis added)
US Senator Elizabeth Warren said Thursday that if reelected this fall, she intends to finish her second six-year term, going a step beyond her previous assertions that she doesn’t have interest in running for the White House in 2020.
“It’s certainly my plan,” Warren told moderator Jennifer Smith, of the Dorchester Reporter, when asked if she’d commit to completing a potential second term through 2024…
But speaking to reporters afterward, Warren repeated the answer that her “plan” is to serve another six years, adding she isn’t focused on a presidential run in two years.
Sorry, but with all due apologies to the Boston Globe reporter, that’s actually not significantly different from what she told Chuck Todd over a month ago. I wasn’t the only one to notice the various, indirectly crafted caveats in Warren’s answers. Haris Alic at the Free Beacon found similar problems, calling this a “half-answer” and a “Shermanesque response.”
Saying, “that’s my plan” is meaningless because, well… plans change. You may claim to be planning to serve the full six years, but if duty calls and you wind up being elected president your plans will have a serious monkey wrench tossed into them. And who in her own party is going to hold her to task at that point? This is once again reminiscent of the answers Hillary Clinton gave while running for a second term in the Senate in 2006. Half-answers and misdirection were her specialties, even while everyone with at least marginal political vision knew she was feathering her nest for a presidential run.
There’s no reason to take Warren seriously at this point since she’s not willing to clearly answer a very fundamental question. All of these issues would go away for her if she simply stood in front of the cameras and said, “I have already made my decision and I will not be seeking the office of President in 2020. I am running for another term in the United States Senate and, if reelected, I will serve out my full, six-year term for the people of Massachusettes if my health allows it.”
But that sort of answer would leave her in a rather awkward position if and when she tosses her hat in the ring for the 2020 Democratic primary. So, for now, we get the misdirection routine. Being honest and saying she’s probably running for President would be fuel for her competition since she’s clearly not interested in finishing the job her constituents sent her to do.
For somebody who complains so much about “old-school politics” and a lack of integrity and transparency in Washington, Warren has certainly learned how to speak like the same old politicians we’ve been accustomed to for longer than I can remember.