Excellent Read: “The Summer of Warren”

Even if I am prejudiced in favor of her subject, Ioffe’s profiles are always worth reading:

Elizabeth Warren was ready for the question. She gets a variation of it almost everywhere she goes. Often, it’ll come after she’s outlined any number of the big, sweeping things she intends to do once she’s assumed the presidency—wipe out student debt, say, or bring the private equity industry to heel, or revamp the State Department. Her immodest plans tend to inspire at least a few people in every crowd to wonder the exact same thing: Really? And how do you expect you’ll do all that?

On a chilly summer evening in a high school gym in Milwaukee, I noticed she’d begun preempting the question by highlighting her own audacity.

She recounted a little story of a colleague who had once approached her on the Senate floor to suggest that an idea of hers was maybe a bit improbable. “That’s just too hard,” Warren said he told her, and added she should “smile more.” (The good, liberal crowd booed on cue.) “And here’s what I remember thinking,” she said, her voice resonating with the righteous disbelief she must have felt then. “What do you think they said to the abolitionists? ‘You’re not going to change this country, that’s too hard!’…What do you think they told the suffragettes? ‘Quit now. It’s just too hard.’ What did they say to the early union organizers? ‘Quit now. It’s just too hard.’ But here’s the thing. They didn’t quit. They persisted and they changed the course of American history!”

The stakes of Warren’s run are historically significant. She is vying to become not simply the country’s first female president, but the architect of an ambitious rethinking of American government. (Her campaign’s central question is: Who does our government work for?) Yet for all the grandness of her vision, some of her shrewdest innovations on the trail can seem almost imperceptible. Consider her selfie strategy. “We’re going to take pictures,” Warren announced from the stage, shortly after invoking those trailblazers of yore. Here was a stealth weapon available to neither abolitionists nor suffragettes. “Someone will explain whether to go to that side or that side.”…

The selfie line has, by now, become a notorious feature of a Warren event—one that reflects the campaign’s savvy as well as the candidate’s unique commitment and stamina: She stays as long as it takes to pose with every person who wants a picture. Sometimes the line is so long that this obligation requires hours of Warren’s time—as it did in Chicago in June, when over three thousand people took two and a half hours to shuffle through. “I don’t know how she does it after doing the speech and taking those questions, which is very hard,” said former Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid. “I’ve never known anyone to do that before. I know that when I finished my town halls, I just wanted to go home.”

Warren, however, told me that she finds the selfie line “energizing.” Earlier that day, as we chatted in her hotel, I asked her about these post-rally meet-and-greets. “The selfie line is the chance to have the direct touch,” she told me. “I get to hear from one person after another what they want me to hear. Anything! This is their chance, and they can tell me anything they want as they come through that selfie line. And it keeps me connected to people in a powerfully important way.”…
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Open Thread: Some Candidates Can Walk *and* Chew Gum..

In a letter to Barrack, the lawmaker highlighted deals the financier’s Colony Capital Inc. arranged after he met with Saudi officials including Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman while serving as head of Trump’s inaugural committee and as an adviser to the presidential transition team. The transactions were the subject of a recent Bloomberg article…

Bloomberg reported on Aug. 1 that a vehicle co-managed by Colony focusing on digital infrastructure investments had received backing from the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, and that Barrack’s firm was in talks regarding a media venture that would make PIF a co-investor in a Hollywood studio. Such a stake would fulfill the Saudis’ longtime goal of getting a foothold in the entertainment business…

Warren, a contender for the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump in next year’s election, has been pushing for legislation to enhance ethics requirements for presidential transition teams. Her letter asks Barrack to respond by Aug. 23 with a description of his Los Angeles-based firm’s involvement with the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, including a timeline of their talks and information on whether administration officials were aware of them.

Among other questions, she asked Barrack:

– why he didn’t register as an agent of a foreign government;

– whether he is advising the president on policies including a potential nuclear cooperation agreement with the Saudi government;

– whether Barrack or Colony employees are in talks with the president or his administration over digital infrastructure; and

– whether Barrack has used any non-public information gleaned from administration sources for business purposes…

And yet…

Some of these Democrats prefer Mr. Biden, viewing him as an acceptable option to a cross-section of voters, but others are eager to find a middle ground between the consensus-oriented former vice president and progressive firebrands like Ms. Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders.

“If it were completely up to me, I’d vote for her,” said Jessie Sagona, who also came to see Ms. Warren last month in New Hampshire. “But I kind of feel like, do we need somebody in the middle like Kamala or Pete,” referring to Ms. Harris and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Ms. Sagona said she had not fully made up her mind but was weighing the importance of “thinking strategically.”…

I’ve said before that I doubt Warren would consider serving with Kamala or Pete (or Cory or Beto) as the worst possible fate. And as yet, most voters aren’t really paying attention, although… Charlie Pierce, for Esquire:

She draws enormous crowds and enormous ovations from those crowds. People see her and holler, unbidden, “Big Structural Change!”—the tagline for all her now-famous syllabus of plans. They chant, “Two cents!”, the amount of each dollar over $50 million she proposes to tax to finance the implementation of those plans. (This is reminiscent of the night at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, when the crowd chanted, “Consumer Finance Protection Bureau,” at her, which was not an easy thing to chant.) And, in the polls, she can’t be said to have had a “moment” yet, but her rise has been steady, easing fears that she might be peaking too soon. She is now a solid second to Joe Biden, and it is still only August of 2019.

But the thing that’s sold Elizabeth Warren to Iowa is primarily Elizabeth Warren. None of the candidates seems to be having as much fun as she is. The endless selfies after speeches. The pinky-swears with young girls about how what girls do is run for president. Her willingness to hold town halls anywhere. That loose-limbed, almost goofy wave with which she steps onto every stage. In a gloomy political time, with a humorless sociopathic bully in the White House, and with all the worst impulses of the national Id come out to play, Senator Professor Warren is the campaign’s happy warrior, the teacher everybody hopes they get when school starts up again in the fall. People respond to the good feeling around her campaign as much as they respond to the blizzard of policy proposals that campaign has loosed upon the electorate…

And the people who come expecting a Dukakis or a Kerry come away happily surprised. And the people who come away expecting an ivory-tower Harvard lecturer leave feeling smarter, and experiencing the conquest of learning in a way they haven’t felt it since elementary school. None of this is to say what may happen when the guns really open up on her, but it is to say, for now, that Elizabeth Warren is running a campaign of hope and optimism and enthusiasm as surely as did Ronald Reagan, that ol’ Iowa radio guy, in 1980, and as surely as Barack Obama did in 2008…








Meaningless Poll Open Thread

Fresh poll of likely caucus-goers in Iowa has good news for Senator Warren’s campaign:

So, instead of Warren and Sanders duking it out for the lefty vote, it looks like Biden and Sanders are having the Battle of the Retreads.

Excerpt from an article in Iowa Starting Line:

Elizabeth Warren’s early investment in Iowa is paying off…

The horserace numbers reflect a shake-up that those of us on the ground in Iowa have been seeing for a while…

The other good news for Warren is that her support appears to be very broad in the party. She leads every age demographic (even surpassing Biden in the oldest age bracket, 31% to 28%) except for the youngest. Sanders has a 14-point lead here among the 18-34 range with 34%.

The article also notes that Senator Harris is going all-in on the Iowa caucus now, which seems to be the smart play. That’s a fairly recent development, according to ISL. We’ll see how the numbers shake out down the road.

All absolutely bereft of meaning at this stage, of course! Open thread!








Thursday Morning Open Thread: Enjoying Summer to the Full

Looks like a photoshopped backdrop, doesn’t it? But from what I’ve seen of that area, it actually is that pretty, at least in the summer and fall. My favorite Senator has lived in New England long enough to know that she might as well do some campaigning outside of arenas and auditoriums while she can…

Four years ago, New Hampshire voters put Sanders on the national map and catapulted him into a heated primary contest against the establishment favorite, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Now the senator has to repeat his strong performance in the first-in-the-nation primary, eight days after the Iowa caucuses, if he has any chance of making it to the convention next summer.

Unlike in 2016, however, Sanders is facing several well-funded opponents who are battling with him for front-runner status in the early nominating states ― some of whom are running for president for the first time. (Former Vice President Joe Biden is currently leading the polls.) The progressive firebrand who took the left by storm several years ago still has his loyal supporters, of course, but he no longer has the “it” factor of four years ago. He’s still railing against the political establishment and the “corporate media,” but his radical ideas on job security, health care and education don’t seem so radical anymore, at least among a significant chunk of the Democratic Party ― something he acknowledged this week on the campaign trail…

 
Speaking of taking advantage of the summer recess, props to Nancy Smash…








Open Thread: Good News for My Favorite Candidate

Ed Kilgore, at NYMag“Surging in Polls, Elizabeth Warren Now Has a Path to the Nomination”:

… [T]he development that currently demands attention is the emergence of Senator Elizabeth Warren as something other than the candidate of policy wonks, dismissed as nonviable even among people who think she’d make an outstanding president. Her strong debate performances, a knack for organizing (based on her outstanding retail political skills), and the misfortunes affecting some of her rivals have combined to give her the clear path to the Democratic nomination that she really did not have in the early going.

Recent polls have clearly indicated that Warren is going places. The RealClearPolitics national polling averages show her as basically tied with Bernie Sanders for second place with Joe Biden’s lead narrowing. The two most recent national polls (from Quinnipiac and Economist–You Gov) place her seven and five points, respectively, ahead of Sanders. Just as important, she’s gaining strength in the early states. A new Monmouth poll from Iowa places her ten points ahead of Bernie, and just nine points behind Biden, in a state where everyone concedes she has the best organization. In New Hampshire polls, where Biden’s early lead was less formidable, she’s nipping at Sanders’s heels. Warren is in a similar position in Nevada (which holds its caucuses 11 days after the New Hampshire primary), where Politico reported yesterday that she has already built a “monster” of an organization.
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