Saturday, June 15, 2019


Jim Gerghty's National Review column on "The Many Similarities between Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton" is as forced and unpersuasive as Roy Edroso makes it out to be:
The comparisons are absurdly weak. For example: "Both women were trailblazers in high-powered legal circles; one attended an Ivy league law school, one taught in an Ivy league law school." Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy; Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln. Also:
Clinton took a lot of grief about implausible claims of being “dead broke” when she left the White House or her Tuzla Dash; Warren gets a lot of grief about her implausible claims of Native American heritage.
Hey, how about that, two politicians accused of dishonesty. It's like they're twins!
But the tell is that the comparisons don't hold up, and you get the feeling Geraghty knows they don't. For instance:
For women who have risen to the top of national politics, they’ve faced criticism for being tone-deaf about how they’ve handled sensitive issues.
Examples, Jim? Oh, you don't have any, because while right-wingers have made much of Clinton's (decontextualized and distorted) remark "What difference, at this point, does it make?" in a Benghazi hearing -- I think it's safe to assume that any reference to Clinton's alleged mishandling of "sensitive issues" is a reference to Benghazi -- there's nothing comparable in Warren's career.

Now we get to style:
Both have friends and colleagues who insist they are warm and personable in private; both face accusations of being cold and stiff and inauthentic on the campaign trail. (Recall Warren’s beer chat on Instagram.) Both face the criticism that they’re not “likeable,” and both have allies insisting that criticism is sexist. Warren may face the accusation that her speeches have a lecturing tone, but for most of her adult life, she’s been employed in a job that involves giving lectures.
This is what has Republicans in a mild panic. They thought Warren would come off as "cold and stiff and inauthentic," but she's vigorous, animated, and extremely comfortable as a public speaker. Hillary Clinton was quite uncomfortable -- she's good in one-on-one interviews and she did a fine job overall in that Bengazhi hearing, but she's never been a strong public orator. By contrast, as Geraghty says, Warren spent years lecturing for a living, but she's said that her early ambition was to be a schoolteacher, and there's an intensity in her public presentation that suggests a grade-school teacher who's determined to connect with every pupil in the classroom. Cold and stiff? She's animated and on fire most of the time. Inauthentic? Much of her policy talk emerges from her life story, which -- unlike Clinton -- she recounts in emotional terms. I don't fault Clinton for her failings as a speaker -- she clearly doesn't enjoy it and knows it isn't a strength of hers -- but in politics, awkwardness is described as inauthenticity. (Ask Mike Dukakis, John Kerry, or Al Gore, all of whom have strong, sincere convictions on a lot of issues but are decried as phonies because they aren't gifted speakers.) Elizabeth Warren doesn't have this problem. She's one of the most personable and compelling speakers in the Democratic field. You might not like her personality -- I worry that many dudebros of all ages won't -- but it burns through the screen whenever she's on TV.

Warren has also run a campaign that's emphasized ideas. Clinton had ideas -- she published many detailed policy positions -- but Warren's policy proposals are her campaign's centerpiece. Unfairly, many Clinton critics accused her of running a campaign based on her name, celebrity, and gender; she was said to believe it was "her turn." But Warren can't be accused of that. She doesn't have a famous name or a long career in public life to trade on. She's not emphasizing her gender. She's tirelessly selling her ideas as if there's no other way for her to break through in a crowded field (which appears to be the case).

And Warren, obviously, is to the left of Clinton on most issues.

So Warren isn't Clinton. Republicans know that, and it scares them. A Politico story says that the Trumpers are paying attention to Warren, whom they'd written off.
With the Massachusetts senator rising in polls and driving a populist message that threatens to cut into the president’s blue-collar base, the Trump campaign is training its firepower on Warren with an eye toward blunting her momentum.
If Trump campaign staffers think Warren might "cut into the president’s [white] blue-collar base," they sure don't think she's Hillary. But Geraghty hopes you'll be fooled.

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