Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren makes her debut in super-awkward press conference

While we’re evaluating and recriminating, parsing the failures of our own side, perhaps this can offer a small bit of solace— a quantum, even. On the heels of her victory over Sen. Scott Brown Tuesday, Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren, Ivy League stand-out and star of the liberal elite who may very well be dictating the rules of the nation’s entire banking system, held her first press conference.

Even the Boston Globe noticed her apparent incomplete comprehension of the idea of questions and answers:

It was a bit of a rough start for Senator-­elect Elizabeth Warren, who held her first official press conference following her victory Tuesday. Suddenly, the voluble Harvard Law School professor and longtime media commentator sounded uncertain and impatient, offering terse answers to questions about ­fiscal policy and the success of women candidates.

The performance was called “jittery” by the Boston Herald. You’re not kiddin’. Take a look at what the jitters can do:

“I’m glad” was all she said when asked to expound on the support she ­received from women voters and on the influx of women elected Tuesday. Asked to elaborate, she refused, saying: “I’m glad that women turned out to vote for me. I’m delighted.”

Asked a third time, Warren turned to Governor Deval Patrick, who was standing at her side at the State House press conference. “You want to try this?” she said.

She offered no opinion on avoiding the “fiscal cliff” or protecting defense spending from sequestration, a question she also oddly lobbed to Patrick, who protected her:

After being asked her first question — how she’d protect defense spending — Warren was silent as she turned to Patrick.

“Defense spending is you,” Patrick prodded Warren.

“Oh, that’s mine,” Warren replied.

After Warren fielded the question, Patrick stepped in to answer the follow-up.

“Let me start,” said Patrick, shielding Warren from having to answer.

Another Globe writer, Brian McGrory, bristled, warning Warren that holding the people’s seat means answering to the people.

The Herald called in an expert to evaluate possible causes of Warren’s odd showing, which I appreciate because if this is the kind of candidate the Oprah-ization of elections creates, then let’s go full Oprah:

U.S. Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren’s jittery first press conference since the election was likely a combination of the political neophyte’s exhaustion and caution as she gets ready to head to Washington, D.C., to take on the high-stakes job, according to a political observer.

“She’s been concentrating so hard on the campaign, I’m sure she’s pretty tired,” said John C. Berg, a political science professor at Suffolk University. “I also think she doesn’t want to go into the Senate having made commitments she regrets.”

Her response to the response to her weird press conference is also weird:

After a press conference in which she brushed aside several questions with terse answers Thursday, Elizabeth Warren gave an explanation for her reticence. Speaking to a handful of reporters after the press conference, she said she must be more discreet now that she is making the transition from candidate to senator-elect.

“Listen, all I can say is I was a lot more discreet as a candidate than I was in real life,” she said after meeting with Massachusetts House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo at the State House.

Turning to a press aide, she said: “Can I say that? Maybe it’s indiscreet to talk about discretion.”

It is odd. I don’t agree with her, but she was perfectly capable of simply talking on the campaign trail, which is a far more grueling environment, even for a Democrat in Massachusetts, than one’s inaugural press conference. She was all but guaranteed utterly expected questions and softballs, but she was asked the women question five times before she could even revert to basic talking points.

To be fair, I guess she’s still one up on this guy.

Here’s the video, although this is only part of it. I’ll keep looking for more.

To be fair, maybe she’s trying a new messaging strategy modeled on another famous effort pioneered by her ancestors— something like this.

And, just because, I’ll take the chance to fragrantly flog this, which I made this spring—Ken Burns Presents: Elizabeth Warren’s Campaign Trail of Tears

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