Warren Changes Story Again, Goes 'All-in' on Heritage Claim

Warren Changes Story Again, Goes 'All-in' on Heritage Claim

First, this bears repeating: Elizabeth Warren was trumpeted by Obama and the political left as the absolute best person to police practices in the financial services industry. She was the ‘cop on the beat’ to ensure banks were completely transparent in their affairs and made all the proper and full disclosures to consumers. But, she can’t even keep her own bio straight. 

Since the news of Warren’s claim to Native American ancestry first broke a month ago, the political world has been on a roller coaster of changing stories and dissembling explanations. Warren’s initial response was that she was completely unaware that Harvard had listed her as a “minority” law professor until she read the first news report. It would take a complete post to review every twist and turn in Warren’s story. Simply read the excellent work of Michael Patrick Leahy for the best record of the burgeoning political soap opera.

The scandal has taken a huge toll on the Warren candidacy, and her campaign is in desperate survival mode ahead of this weekend’s state Democrat convention. So, we are assured, Warren is ready to “come clean” with the absolutely true, final explanation for her actions. First up, her initial response was not true:

Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren acknowledged for the first time late Wednesday night that she told Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania that she was Native American, but she continued to insist that race played no role in her recruitment.

“At some point after I was hired by them, I . . . provided that information to the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard,” she said in a statement issued by her campaign. “My Native American heritage is part of who I am, I’m proud of it and I have been open about it.”

Warren’s statement is her first acknowledgment that she identified herself as Native American to the Ivy League schools. While she has said she identified herself as a minority in a legal directory, she has carefully avoided any suggestion during the last month that she took further actions to promote her purported heritage.

When the issue first surfaced last month, Warren said she only learned Harvard was claiming her as a minority when she read it in the Boston Herald.

Even if we take her at her word, this statement raises a few questions. She claims she only told the two schools about her heritage after she was hired. But, since she was listed in a directory of minority law professors, Harvard would have presumably known about it before she had to tell them. Indeed, when she spent a year as a visiting professor, the school reported that it had a Native American law professor on its faculty. For the next two years, when she returned to the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard no longer reported that fact. So, they absolutely knew of her claims to be Native American. 

It is also curious in light of the its “part of who I am” statement that Warren stopped registering herself as Native American after she won tenure at Harvard. Especially in light of the fact that at one of her first teaching jobs at the University of Texas, she registered herself as Caucasian. So, for those keeping score at home, Warren was Caucasian, before she was Native American, before she was Caucasian again. 

Ok, so she has some identity issues. But, then, today we get this howler of a story

In the 1930s, when my parents got married, these were hard issues. My father’s family so objected to my mother’s Native American heritage that my mother told me they had to elope.

As kids, my brothers and I knew about that. We knew about the differences between our two families. And we knew how important my mother’s heritage was to her. This was real in my life. I can’t deny my heritage. I can’t and I won’t. That would be denying who my mother was, who my family was, how we lived, and I won’t do it.’

So, the whole Native American ancestry was something of an existential touchstone for Warren. It had a pretty profound affect on her family’s life. Her parents were married in the face of racial objections from her father’s family and she intimates there was on-going tension between the families when she was growing up. This wasn’t simply “family lore” talked about, perhaps, over holidays but a real and tangible thing that presumably had an impact on how Warren was raised. In her voluminous portfolio of writing, has she ever written about this? Because it sounds like kind of a big deal. Racial animosity between your grandparents would sear into a child’s memory. 

And yet, she has a hard time recalling when she did or didn’t claim Native American heritage. She “can’t deny my heritage”, but vacillates between listing herself as Caucasian or Native American. Is this remotely plausible to anyone?

The Warren campaign is in serious trouble. Every time Warren tries to address this issue, she raises still more questions. As Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) said today, it’s been “water torture” watching the scandal unfold. Warren’s recent interviews suggest the show is just getting started.

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