I have no idea if Warren will actually win the nomination, but she’s proven to be much, much better at this than many people claimed after she announced late last year. https://t.co/3SrHZ9iGBz
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) August 3, 2019
I wrote a feature about Elizabeth Warren’s teaching career—how it shapes her, helps us understand her approach to politics, what her students thought about her, how she proposed to her husband in a classroom, how her dog used to have office hours: https://t.co/5MlQCaU0HX
— Rebecca Traister (@rtraister) August 6, 2019
Rebecca Traister, in NYMag:
… Warren’s work as a teacher — the profession she dreamed of from the time she was in second grade — remains a crucial part of her identity, self-presentation, and communicative style. Her 2014 book, A Fighting Chance, opens with these sentences: “I’m Elizabeth Warren. I’m a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. For nearly all my life, I would have said I’m a teacher, but I guess I really can’t say that anymore.”
But just because she’s not in the classroom these days doesn’t mean that those she’s talking to can’t smell it on her from a mile away. Leading up to the first round of debates, the Onion ran a headline reading, “Elizabeth Warren Spends Evenings Tutoring Underperforming Candidates.” And during a June episode of Desus & Mero, the two Bronx hosts did a riff on how Warren “definitely gives you teacher swag, but the teacher-that-cares-a-lot swag,” imagining her being the kind of teacher who comes to your house to tell your mom you have potential. “You came all the way to the Bronx for this? Wow … that blanquita cares.”
Warren has won multiple teaching awards, and when I first profiled her in 2011, early in her Senate run and during what would be her last semester of teaching at Harvard, I spoke to students who were so over the moon about her that my editors decided I could not use many of their quotes because they were simply too laudatory. Many former students I interviewed for this story spoke in similarly soaring terms. One, Jonas Blank, described her as “patient and plainspoken, like an elementary-school teacher is expected to be, but also intense and sharp the way a law professor is supposed to be.” Several former students who are now (and were then) Republicans declined to talk to me on the record precisely because they liked her so much and did not want to contribute to furthering her political prospects by speaking warmly of her.
Yet it remains an open question whether the work Warren does so very well — the profession about which she is passionate and that informs her approach to politics — will work for her on the presidential-campaign trail.
Plenty of our former presidents have been teachers. Some of them, including William Howard Taft and Barack Obama, taught law; some, including Millard Fillmore, primary school. Warren has been both law professor and primary-school teacher, and as a person who ran for office for the first time in her 60s, her four decades as a teacher define her in a way Obama’s stint as an instructor in constitutional law never did. Here, as in all else, it matters that she’s a woman. Teaching is a profession that, in post-agrarian America, was explicitly meant to be filled by women. That means teachers historically were some of the only women to wield certain kinds of public power: They could evaluate and punish, and so it was easy to resent them…
When I asked Warren whether these are dynamics she worries about, she answered with an emphatic no: “Nobody wants to be talked down to — nobody. That’s true whether we’re talking about big national audiences or law students or fifth-graders or little tiny kids.” But, she said, this is not at all at odds with the work she has done as an educator, because “that’s not what teaching, good teaching, is about.”
Instead, she said, “good teaching is about starting where you are and the teacher having the confidence in you to know that if you had a little bit more information, a little bit more time on this, if you thought about this from a little different perspective, you might move a little bit.”…
When I asked Warren about her wooing of progressive students into her own traditionally more staid field, she rubbed her hands together, a cheerful spider in full command of her web. She told me a story about how she performed the same trick with Katie Porter, a student who flubbed an early answer in class, came to beg Warren not to give up on her, and blurted out, “I don’t care about any of this bankruptcy stuff!” Porter not only went on to study bankruptcy with Warren; she wound up teaching it as a professor and, in 2018, flipped an Orange County California House seat blue. Warren wants progressives, she said, “armed with maces and spears and sticks” in their fights for economic equality. Porter now performs viral eviscerations of bankers and bureaucrats on the House floor, reminiscent of what her mentor does in the Senate…
But there’s another student of Warren’s who now sits alongside her in the Senate: the bloodred Tom Cotton from Arkansas. Cotton once told Chuck Todd that, while he knew from her scholarship that she was a liberal, he hadn’t been able to divine her politics in class.
Warren and Cotton appeared together at a 2017 panel at Harvard for senators associated with the school (at which Warren was the only woman and the only panelist without a Harvard degree in the all-white group). During the discussion, Warren was describing why she’d come to teach at Harvard, how “every day I got to walk into the classroom where [there was] such privilege, such opportunity, such incredible tools, but to say to people, ‘Come on, get better at what you’ve got and widen it out, because the only mistake you can make is not to get out there and do something with passion.’”
Cotton interrupted her: “That’s not exactly the way I remember it,” he deadpanned, explaining that “she was teaching us that lesson by being very hard on us.”
Warren leaned over and looked at her former student. “And are you sorry?” she asked him.
Cotton backed down. “She was probably the best professor I had,” he conceded…
As one can expect from Traisster, the whole piece is packed with great anecdotes. There’s a link to a podcast interview, too, if you’re interested.
“Warren has put critics of her grand plans on the defensive in much the same way Barack Obama put Hillary Clinton on the defensive in 2008, when she argued that Obama's plans were fantastical in the real world of Washington.” – ?@davidaxelrod? https://t.co/HRwuBJEdF5
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) August 3, 2019
Some of the local officials who are backing Warren over Sanders this time point to his gruff personality.
“If you’re a leader, being liked is not a bad thing,” – Wayne Burton a NH local elected who backed Sanders four years ago and now wants Warren.https://t.co/duECP1nGXE
— Annie Linskey (@AnnieLinskey) August 3, 2019