Elizabeth Warren Positioned to Challenge Hillary from the Left in 2016
Less than a year into her first term, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is the favorite candidate of many left wing organizations to challenge former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential nomination. Eight years ago another first term senator from a liberal state considered undertaking a similar challenge to Ms. Clinton's inevitable coronation as the Democratic Party's 2008 presidential nominee. His name was Barack Obama.
Noam Scheiber, senior editor at the New Republic, launched the 2016 speculation on Sunday, when he wrote a glowing article that virtually begged Senator Warren to toss her hat into the ring. "The last time Clinton ran," he wrote, "the issue was Iraq and the gleaming new mug was Barack Obama’s. This time the debate will be about the power of America’s wealthiest. . . [T]his disagreement will cut to the very core of the party: what it stands for and who it represents."
For the 64 year old Warren, one of the most liberal members of the United States Senate and the prime academic mover behind the controversial Dodd-Frank banking bill, there is no reason to avoid challenging Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. Fresh off a relatively easy 54 percent to 46 percent Senate victory in Massachusetts over Scott Brown in 2012, the former Harvard Law School professor has a highly effective national fundraising team that raised much of the $42 million she spent on her Senate race outside of her home state. That team is regularly churning out emails and continues to raise money for Senator Warren and her Democratic allies.
Another reason Senator Warren has no incentive to stay out of the 2016 Democratic presidential primary is that she is not up for re-election to her Senate seat until 2018. There is little indication that seat would be in jeopardy if she were to challenge Clinton in 2016 and fail. Also, Warren is unlikely to be in a stronger position to challenge for the presidency if she waited until 2020 when she would be 70 years old, or 2024 when she would be 74 years old.
Senator Warren is also the natural champion of those who identify with the Occupy Wall Street movement and comprise what the New Republic's Scheiber believes is one of the two major branches of the Democratic Party in 2013. "On one side," he wrote, "is a majority of Democratic voters, who are angrier, more disaffected, and altogether more populist than they’ve been in years. They are more attuned to income inequality than before the Obama presidency and more supportive of Social Security and Medicare. They’ve grown fonder of regulation and more skeptical of big business."
"On the other side," Scheiber states, "is a group of Democratic elites associated with the Clinton era who still fundamentally believe the economy functions best with a large, powerful, highly complex financial sector."
Conservatives, for their part, are delighted at the prospect of a Warren challenge to Clinton. Warren has huge ideological and personal vulnerabilities that, while very damaging in a general election, might not have much influence at all in a very liberal Democratic primary.
On Tuesday, for instance, conservative blogger William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection wrote "[t]here is a reason the entire left side of the nation arose with their hopes and prayers seeming to be answered as soon as Noam Scheiber raised the possibility of an Elizabeth Warren challenge to Hillary. . .[T]he horse that just left the barn was the open acknowledgement of the progressive base that they don’t really want Hillary Clinton, they don’t really like her, and they feel the need for a breath of fresh air. Just like in 2008."
A contest between Warren and Clinton also sets up a fight for control of the Democratic Party between two candidates infamous for making false statements, both of whom seek to replace Barack Obama, whose administration, as ConservativeHQ.com's George Rasley recently wrote, has institutionalized lying and incompetence.
Warren continues to stick by her false claims that she has a Native American heritage from which she seems to have benefited professionally early in her career. Scheiber and other left wingers promoting an Elizabeth Warren presidential campaign fail to mention the controversies surrounding Warren's false claims of Native American heritage.
Clinton lied in her claims that a video was the cause of the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya by Islamist terrorists that killed four Americans, and has also stonewalled the role her "State Department Rules of Engagement for Libya," played in failing to prevent that attack.
Obama lied repeatedly to the American public that under Obamacare "you can keep your health care plan" in order to get re-elected.
Late Tuesday night, Warren herself "fanned the flames" of 2016 presidential speculation, as reliably liberal journalist Eleanor Clift reported at The Daily Beast. "In a major address," Clift wrote, "the progressive senator made no reference to speculation about her presidential ambitions, but she was fiery as ever when it came to swiping the big banks."
According to Clift's rose-colored reporting, Warren "was among the first to sound the alarm bell on a runaway banking industry, and now she's using her seat on the Senate Banking committee to warn of another 'too big to fail' crisis in the making. Praised for her tenacity in penetrating the obscurity created by Wall Street to shield high-risk derivatives from scrutiny, and her clarity in exposing these practices to the American people, Warren would be a dream candidate for those who cheered last year’s Occupy Wall Street movement, and for progressives in general."
The All-Star Panel on Fox News' Special Report discussed the Elizabeth Warren boomlet on Tuesday's program, where Kirsten Powers told Brett Baier "I think she connects with more than just the Occupy Wall Street part of the party. I think she connects with liberals elites -- with elites in the media, like The New Republic, for example. And I think she will be the darling of those kind of people."
George Will said "If she doesn't [run] someone will, represent not the Occupy Wall Street wing, but what Howard Dean called the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, and if she doesn't do it, Howard Dean might do it. Ask yourself -- people in the base of the two parties are in it for the fun of it. What's more fun -- to have William Jennings Bryant, a female Bryant from Harvard yard out there railing against capitalism and all its evil works, or someone like Hillary Clinton who has been on the national scene by 2016, for 25 years? She may be past her sell date."
Stephen Hayes acknowledged that "it is conceivable that she [Hillary Clinton] would lose." Hayes was quick to add that "I just don't think Elizabeth Warren is likely the person who would defeat her. For one thing, you can go back to the campaign that she ran in Massachusetts in 2012 where she was anything but, I would say, a strong candidate. If you spent any time with her out on the campaign trail, as some of my colleagues did, their reports were that she was a pretty dismal candidate."
Hayes' characterization that Warren's performance as a candidate in the 2012 general election for the Massachussets Senate seat was "dismal" is widely shared. However, the electorate in a general election is far less forgiving of a candidate who is awkward on the stump than a liberal Democratic primary electorate swept away in an ideological, quasi-religious fervor for a candidate who articulates their faith.
For conservatives and liberals alike, a potential Elizabeth Warren challenge to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries is sure to provide at least two more years of entertaining speculation.