Elizabeth Warren’s firm and repeated denial of presidential aspirations in her latest interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep didn’t stop speculation arising about what she really means. The Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper writes that “Warren won’t rule out future presidential run.” The Wall Street Journal notes “the present-tense question familiar to people subject to presidential speculation[.]” The Washington Post reports that she’s “not running for president, right now, today”:
Elizabeth Warren is not currently running for president. Did you catch that? Elizabeth Warren is not currently running for president!
In related news, NPR is thrilled with a flood of incoming links in a slow news cycle. Here’s the exchange that has all of the progressive soothsayers soothing, or something:
Sen. Warren, as you must know, that even as you were fighting over this in the Senate, there was a group called Ready for Warren that wants you to run for president, that released a letter signed by more than 300 people who describe themselves as former Obama campaign workers and staffers and aides. They want you to run. What do you say to them?
I’m, I’m not running for president. That’s not what we’re doing. We had a really important fight in the United States Congress just this past week. And I’m putting all my energy into that fight and to what happens after this.
Would you tell these independent groups, “Give it up!” You’re just never going to run.
I told them, “I’m not running for president.”
You’re putting that in the present tense, though. Are you never going to run?
I am not running for president.
You’re not putting a “never” on that.
I am not running for president. You want me to put an exclamation point at the end?
Inskeep gives it up at that point, offering a softball question to end the interview that allows Warren to pledge to “stand up for hardworking families who just want a fighting chance.” That sounds like the unstoppable motivation that every other politician claims, on the Right and the Left. Oddly, Inskeep never asks her why she doesn’t plan to run for President, although that would seem to be a natural follow-up question given her recent high profile. Maybe she’s seen “Run Liz Run,” and doesn’t want to listen to it for the next two years. Who could blame her?
Nevertheless, she’s definitely the flavor of the week among the media, who were dazzled by her complete inability to prevent Congress and Barack Obama from weakening Dodd-Frank — the same media who derided Ted Cruz’ doomed attempt to block executive amnesty, by the way. The New York Post warns Hillary Clinton that she faces a “progressive uprising” centered around Warren:
Hillary Rodham Clinton’s shoo-in status as the Democratic candidate for president was badly damaged by US Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s forceful crusade to block a Wall Street-friendly provision from being included in the new $1.1 trillion federal spending bill, key Democrats have told The Post.
Clinton, who has yet to weigh in on what for many “progressive’’ Democrats is fast becoming a defining issue — lifting a Dodd-Frank law provision that kept taxpayers from insuring riskier derivatives-trading activities — is going to have to do so, and do so soon, the Democrats agree.
“This Warren thing puts Hillary in a horrendous position . . . and she’s going to try to avoid it like the plague,’’ said a prominent New York Democratic consultant involved in presidential politics.
“Wall Street money has always been Hillary’s bread and butter, and she’s been counting on it for 2016.
“Now, because of the Senate debate, she’ll be forced to say where she stands on things like the derivatives rule and Wall Street’s continuing effort to repeal Dodd-Frank.
Really? Ask the vast majority of voters about derivatives — or Dodd-Frank, for that matter — and see what kind of a response it gets. This is an arcane change in an arcane statute, albeit important and potentially dangerous, that will only become interesting for most people outside the bubble if it leads to another crash and bailout. That’s unlikely to happen in the next two years, so don’t expect Hillary to step on her Wall Street backers, or for this issue to have any resonance past Christmas, if that long.
The Post’s Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake also warn Hillary of Warren’s emergence, and advise her to change her 2016 rollout schedule:
Hillary Rodham Clinton, after much debate within her inner circle, appears to have put off formally entering the 2016 presidential race until spring 2015.
Although there are plenty of reasons that favor waiting — legal ones in terms of how she incorporates (or doesn’t) the various outside groups that have blossomed in support of her in the past few years, and political ones about looking less, well, political, for as long as possible — there’s also a big reason she should at least consider announcing sooner rather than later.
And that reason is Elizabeth Warren. Or, at least, the energy and passion among liberals that is, at the moment, channeled through the Massachusetts senator. An attempt to draft her was launched formally last week, and her stern opposition to the $1.1 trillion spending bill because of a provision that would ease derivative trading by corporations drew scads of national coverage.
This argument amounts to saying You have to change your strategy because we’re distracted by another freshman Senator! Granted, this may seem like déja vu to Team Hillary, but Elizabeth Warren isn’t Barack Obama, and this isn’t 2006. Voters soundly rejected a progressive President and his progressive allies in the midterm election, the exact opposite from what happened in George W. Bush’s sixth-year midterm. Warren isn’t someone who laid the groundwork for a general election by appealing to the center and making herself the champion of “post-partisan” politics, no matter how misleading that later turned out to be. She’s not the candidate of youth, either, in the way Obama was; Warren is only two years younger than Hillary Clinton, and significantly older than almost all of the Republican field expected to challenge for the other major-party nomination.
Call this the product of a slow news week. Nothing has changed in the Democratic field over the last couple of weeks, and certainly nothing that requires a major change of strategy from Hillary or anyone else. Given all of the ways Warren is out of step with the general political momentum of the moment, perhaps everyone would be better off taking her at her word.