US presidential race 2016
Nothing like a good Twitter war to attract attention. For most of this year Senator Elizabeth Warren has been taking pot shots at Donald Trump. Since he became the presumptive Republican nominee, she has upped the ante, telling Trump 'Your policies are dangerous. Your words are reckless. Your record is embarrassing. And your free ride is over'. And that's just one in an unrelenting series.
Long a favourite of progressives who still hope she will make a run for president one day, Senator Warren is figuring in lists of likely running mates for Hillary Clinton. On Slate, Michelle Goldberg was among the many hoping the speculation will become fact.
Choosing Warren would be an uncharacteristically bold and thrilling move for the cautious Clinton, one that would help unite Sanders supporters behind her candidacy while throwing its feminist promise into high relief. Clinton is already playing the woman card; now, to belabor a metaphor, she should double down.
Washington Post blogger Paul Waldman reckons it's a non-starter.
My dear liberal friends, I can feel your excitement already. But while Warren will be a great anti-Trump surrogate for Clinton — maybe the best Clinton will have — she’s not going to be on the ticket. Sorry to deliver the bad news.
There are a few reasons for this. The first is that Clinton and Warren aren’t close or even particularly friendly, and personal rapport is a key part of an effective working relationship between the president and vice president, as Clinton surely understands. Warren would come to the office with her own agenda on economic affairs — an agenda more aggressively liberal than Clinton’s, particularly when it comes to how the government should deal with Wall Street. Warren would also bring her own constituency, which could make her an unwanted headache for Clinton, who like all presidents would want a vice president who has no goal other than advancing the president’s goals.
This view suits many Warren supporters — who think the prospect of losing her from the Senate is too big a price to pay for the VP slot — just fine. But one fan, Markos 'Kos' Moulitsas, founder and publisher of the Daily Kos today came around to thinking it would be worth it. Just.
In a perfect world, Clinton would hand Warren the Wall Street portfolio and fight for Warren’s recommendations. But it’s not a perfect world, and Warren would not be in a place to publicly criticize Clinton if she strayed on Wall Street. We’d lose our strongest ally in the Senate to a hazy situation inside a White House that could end up hostile to Warren, sidelining her and rendering her impotent.
The reward could be huge, especially during campaign season. But after campaign season we’d be rolling the dice. Is the risk worth it for the potential reward?
On the other hand, Warren’s popularity and credibility with the base would theoretically make it harder for Clinton’s people to muzzle her. Not impossible, but if Clinton’s people want to harness the energy she brings to the base and to the party, that carries risks for them as well—they have to respect her influence and power.
Ultimately, this isn’t an easy call one way or the other. It’s perfectly reasonable to advocate for Senator Elizabeth Warren, rather than Vice President Elizabeth Warren.
For my part, I’m now on team 'vice president'—but not without acknowledging the real risks.
Photo: Flickr user Senate Democrats