A leftover from yesterday. “Warren’s national journey is over, for all practical purposes,” said the Boston Herald of the latest embarrassing revelation from Warren’s “Pow Wow Chow” period of cultural appropriation. Sorry, I mean “racial awakening.”
Are they right that she’s finished, though? We’re still a year out from Iowa. Bernie might not even run, leaving the socialist vote up for grabs.
Her willingness to fraudulently ascribe to herself attributes and experiences of a historically oppressed group for personal gain is seemingly unhindered by social norms or any ethical inner conflict. What’s more, her flagrant purloining of Native American identity is done so carelessly and without regard to ramification that she seems devoid of the sensibility that would make most people aware that their fraudulent misrepresentations would need tending to, lest a reporter like the Herald’s Hillary Chabot dig up the truth — like she did when she broke the story in 2012…
The Texas state bar application, in which Warren lists herself as an “American Indian” is hard proof that Elizabeth Warren has infused a false narrative into transactions that have been pivotal to her professional ascendance throughout her adult life. Her success cannot be uncoupled from her professed identity, which was purported to be true but was not.
That’s the argument against her — but for the fact that she identified for years professionally as Native American she wouldn’t be where she is today. Her political stature may have been nourished by other intangibles but it’s still ultimately all fruit of a mendacious tree. She has a counterargument to that, though, conveniently provided by Boston’s other newspaper. And we’re bound to reach a point of diminishing returns with revelations in this vein. It’s true that new embarrassments like the bar registration card are likely to occur as her rivals hand off oppo periodically to the media, and those embarrassments will momentarily throw her off-message. But what could be left that we don’t know about? She did the DNA test and was humiliated by Cherokee Nation for it. She wrote “American Indian” in her own hand on documents 30 years ago. She contributed recipes to (deep breath) “Pow Wow Chow.” If we find out a month from now that she got a library card in 1988 and listed “Cherokee” as her ethnicity, what does that add?
I do think she’ll need some breaks, starting but not ending with Sanders declining to run, to become a true top-tier candidate at this point. If Bernie passes, if Harris seems glib about parts of the progressive agenda at the debates, if Biden has too much policy baggage to make the left comfortable with him as nominee, Warren will be an acceptable alternative. The real damage from her Native American appropriation isn’t that it renders her entire career a lie in voters’ eyes, I think, it’s that it’s tawdry and makes her faintly ridiculous. (Which is why Trump, always searching for a way to humiliate his opponents, likes mentioning it so much.) That’s poison to her, as her image as an academic and class warrior is one of utmost seriousness. She’d be in good shape if she could run uninterrupted as the scourge of plutocracy, single-minded in her mission to share the wealth. Instead she’s constantly having to explain how and why she came to the conclusion in her late 30s that she was Cherokee.
As I say, I think Democrats will get bored with that line of attack on her but they can’t un-know it. And it’s her very bad luck that the thing that makes her seem so ridiculous also happens to amount to a grave transgression against leftist orthodoxy, appropriating the culture of an historically persecuted group. They can’t give her cover on it by riding to her defense against righty critics. All she can do is take each blow, try to shake it off, and keep going.