Friday, February 20, 2015

​Hillary Clinton Meets Privately With Elizabeth Warren; Politico "Speculates" Why


Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Elizabeth Warren
in 2013. 
 Credit Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

by Gaius Publius

The Hillary Clinton–Elizabeth Warren story has always been complicated. Clinton has stood for Wall Street, for example, and Warren against. The Clintons as a group and a Foundation have stood for income redistribution to the rich (via NAFTA, "free trade" and deregulation) while salving the rest of us with promises of education that will, as some say it, "prepare 21st century workers for 21st century jobs" (in Asia?). Warren, on the other hand, has consistently stood against wealth redistribution away from the middle class, and for debt relief for the middle class. A tale, as they say, of opposites.

Yet in 2013 Warren signed a group letter supporting Hillary Clinton:
All the female Democrats in the Senate [including Sen. Warren] have jumped on the "Hillary for President" bandwagon  even though some of the liberal lady lawmakers on Team Hill are thought to have presidential ambitions of their own come 2016.

The group of 16, reportedly led by veteran Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) lended their signatures to the note, encouraging their former colleague to try again for the White House.
And Warren repeatedly refuses to fuel speculation that she's considering giving thought to a possible White House run. According to her pronouncements, she's not even thinking about giving consideration to this thought.

Yet Warren has taken an activist role in the Senate — an anti-Obama role at times, and clearly an anti-Clintonian one — by her failed attempt to sabotage the weakening of Dodd-Frank derivatives regulation, and her successful attempt to derail the appointment of Wall Street heavyweight Antonio Weiss to Undersecretary of the Treasury. This puts her, as some say, in the Populist wing of the Democratic party, with Clinton aligned with the Wall Street wing, both by word and deed.

Clinton seems determined to run, if not eager to announce early. There certainly are a number of "friendly" PACs doing fund-raising on her behalf. Yet the Wall Street wing has never been more unpopular with voters, both Democratic and Republican, and Elizabeth Warren has a great deal of support.

As to their candidacies, it's presumed by most that Clinton will run for the White House, and it's hard to think, at this point, of Warren taking that step — certainly while Clinton is not out of the race, if even then.

As I said, complicated. In sum:

▪ Clinton is likely running, Warren is likely not.
▪ Clinton is less popular with Democratic voters, Warren considerably more.
▪ Clinton is thought to want the White House badly, Warren to prefer the Senate.

But, because they would both potentially be the "first woman president":

▪ Warren can win a larger share of Democratic voters than Clinton can ever hope to.

This is a tough problem for Clinton. If she's truly running, she needs to figure out how to paint herself with "Warren cred" while not abandoning her moneyed supporters. She could give "Populist wing" speeches, as Obama has recently done, but would she be believed? What would you do in her position?

Clinton Asked For a Private Meeting With Warren

In this context, we find this news via Politico. First, just the headline:
Hillary Clinton, Privately, Seeks the Favor of Elizabeth Warren 
Compare Politico's headline with my heading for this section. See the difference? This is Politico putting intention to the action. Clinton is not just seeking a meeting, she's seeking some of that "Warren cred" I just mentioned. Now from the piece (my emphasis):
Hillary Rodham Clinton held a private meeting with Senator Elizabeth Warren in December, seeking to cultivate the increasingly influential senator and to grapple with issues raised by a restive Democratic left, such as income inequality.

The two met at the Northwest Washington home of the Clintons, without aides and at Mrs. Clinton’s invitation.

Mrs. Clinton solicited policy ideas and suggestions from Ms. Warren, according to a Democrat briefed on the meeting, who called it “cordial and productive.” Mrs. Clinton, who has been seeking advice from a range of scholars, advocates and officials, did not ask Ms. Warren to consider endorsing her likely presidential candidacy.
Is Clintons seeking ideas, or innocence by association? Feel free to make up your own mind, as I have done mine. And while you're asking yourself questions like these, ask yourself this — what's the source of the three bolded phrases in the final paragraph quoted above?

There's much in the piece that you already know, including:
Ms. Warren has repeatedly said she is not running for president, and she has taken no steps that would indicate otherwise. Still, she is intent on pushing a robust populist agenda, and her confidants have suggested that she would use her Senate perch during the 2016 campaign to nudge Mrs. Clinton to embrace causes like curtailing the power of large financial institutions.

The get-together highlighted an early challenge for Mrs. Clinton, who as the Democrats’ leading contender for 2016 has all but cleared the field for her party’s primary. She is intent on developing an economic platform that can speak to her party’s populist wing and excite working class voters without alienating allies in the business community.

That Mrs. Clinton reached out to Ms. Warren suggested that she was aware of how much the debate over economic issues had shifted even during the relatively short time she was away from domestic politics while serving as secretary of state.
That's Politico doing its contextual due diligence. But again, you knew all that. The piece I bolded above is a giveaway, though, just as Politico's headline was, and the word "cultivate" from its very first sentence. What does Clinton want? Policy ideas, an endorsement, or some second-hand credibility? Policy ideas are free and obvious — rein in Big Money, take away some of their plunder (yes, that's the right word for it), and give that recovered loot back to the people they took it from.

Since Clinton's not stupid, one has to presume she wants the other two. Would she welcome an endorsement? I think she'd kill, in the virtual sense, for it. Would she settle for some of the cred to rub from Warren's shoulders to hers, as they stood side by side smiling at the cameras? Of course.

But she wants something else as well. The Politico article suggest that Clinton wants more than just "cred" from Warren — she wants a bit more silence:
The one-on-one meeting also represented a step toward relationship building for two women who do not know each other well. And for Mrs. Clinton, it was a signal that she would prefer Ms. Warren’s counsel delivered in person, as a friendly insider, rather than on national television or in opinion articles.
About Warren and "insiders," consider what she told Bill Moyers. And again, where did the writers get such an idea?

What's the Source of Politico's Many "Speculations"?

Now let's look at the layer below the Clinton-Warren layer. This article came from somewhere. Does it contain a large amount of speculation on the writers' part, or is there an "unacknowledged source" from the Clinton team whispering into the writers' combined shell-like, helping to feed the article that helps to feed Clinton's cred?

Again, feel free to make up your own mind, but know that pieces like these don't come out of the wild blue, and the writers, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin, are connected to people who know the people who know how to get things in the press. With that question about "unacknowledged sources" in mind, note the writers' ending:
Both Mrs. Clinton and her husband appeared eager to keep a close eye on Ms. Warren; Bill Clinton has appeared sensitive to her oblique criticism of his deregulation of financial institutions.
The word "appeared" appears twice in this sentence. Under what hedge do you have to be looking for these appearances to be seen? Or is it a matter of to whose mouth your ear is tuned? I'd be shocked if this piece — with all its insider-y motive-guessing — came from any source but the Clinton camp. If so, with Ms. Clinton's knowledge? On that, your speculation is as good as anyone's — and as obvious.

If you do think Clinton is ultimately the source of so much in this article, I strongly suggest you reread it carefully with that in mind and find, phrase by phrase, Clinton's likely contributions to it. What information can only come from Team Clinton? You too can hear like an insider.


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At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Thad said...

I bet Hills would like Warren to shut up. At this point I think everyone who cares knows that the Democrats' Clintonian Wall Street-fueled battleground state, insider-pollster-and-media-consultant approach has been the death of the Democratic Party. It's now a party with lots of great high dollar donors and not enough voters. So now comes HRC using the same formula again.

The only enthusiasm I see left for Hills, apart from the insiders who would again get money and power, is as the final frontier of Democratic Party identity politics: the First Woman President. I know women politicians who say they are from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Party but will be fairly enthused about a Hillary candidacy because of the First Woman thing. I expect that accounts for a fair amount of Warren tacitly supporting HRC.

We have all seen what the First Black President has done for race relations and the fortunes of the Democratic Party. I would expect that in eight years of President Hillary From Wall Street, American men and women will no longer be speaking with each other, and the presidency will be the only elective office held by a Democrat above the level of County Executive.

At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If only Warren were similarly different from the Generalissima on foreign policy.

John Puma

At 2:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just as the RNC has pushed Romney and Rubio to the curb, the DNC is looking to smooth the path for Hillary by neutralizing any potential problem. Warren represents such a problem. Either they are trying to slip a choker around her neck, or they are looking for blackmail material.

The Democrats also worry about Bernie Sanders, who they currently can't threaten unless he becomes a Democrat himself. Everyone knows that he can't win as an independent under the current one dollar, one vote scheme brought into play by Citizens United. all he can do is shout from the fringe and hope someone hears.

Warren, however, is heard very well.

Despite this, Warren has no real political influence outside of the Senate. The Party elite can deny her any support if she ran for president, for they value Wall St bucks far more than her populism. I thus support her decision to remain in the Senate where she can actually do some good for the people of this nation.


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