Globe profile of Elizabeth Warren

Yesterday’s Globe carried one in a series of lengthy profiles tracing the background of the two candidates for United States Senate in Massachusetts this year. This article was about Elizabeth Warren and her career as a law school professor. It’s an important article in that – in my opinion – it made three important points about her, two intentionally and one perhaps unintentionally.

The first point involved the issue of Warren’s past self-identification as having some Native American ancestry. When this arose months ago, Warren explained that she was just repeating family history as told to her by her mother. The Scott Brown camp portrayed it more sinisterly, asserting that it was a false claim that should put Warren’s credibility on all issues in doubt and implying, or leaving it to some of his supporters to imply, that Warren received preferential treatment in hiring because of this. After dominating the news for a couple of weeks, this all died down, presumably because reasonable people in the media and amongst the public concluded it was a non-issue. But politics being what it is, I expect a barrage of Brown TV ads attacking Warren on this issue as we draw nearer to the election. Probably assuming the same scenario, the authors of the Globe piece went to great lengths to examine this issue. Here’s what they wrote:

in two dozen interviews with the Globe, a wide range of professors and administrators who recruited or worked with Warren said her ethnic background played no role in her hiring.

Keep that sentence in mind the next time someone brings up the Native American issue.

The second point of the article was that Warren’s past history is that of a moderate which is not how she has been portrayed. Until 1996 she was a registered Republican and, in the late 1980s when a popular feminist legal philosopher was denied tenure at University of Pennsylvania Law School was denied tenure, Warren, then one of three tenured female professors at Penn, came under criticism for failing to support the feminist cause:

In recent interviews, students who had advocated for [the professor who was denied tenure] said Warren was among the influential voices who had actively opposed her, aligning herself with the administrative establishment. Several female law students from that era said they considered Warren “mainstream” and “conservative.” . . .

“[Warren] was not a rabble-rouser,” said Alix James, the chief executive of a Pennsylvania manufacturing company who graduated from Penn Law in 1988.

“I appreciated that about Professor Warren,” James said. “She didn’t wear a feminist badge. She just got the job done.”

So if you’re one of those who have hesitated to support Elizabeth Warren, thinking her “too liberal”, read this article and then reassess that opinion.

Finally, there’s the issue of the double standard based on gender that still exists in society today. A theme throughout the article is Warren’s “singular ambition” and “sharp elbows”, a trait the authors of the article, one male and one female, portray in a slightly off-putting way. I’ve searched my memory for the many profiles of successful men in politics, business and the law and I never once remember anyone being similarly portrayed even thought most if not all of them were ambitious and had “sharp elbows” in working the way to the top of their professions. But when a woman – be it Elizabeth Warren or anyone else – follows the same path, a path we find laudable in males, it becomes the subject of criticism and that’s just not fair. Much about this year’s campaign is overtly and covertly about the rights of women in our society. This is just another example of why that fight is so critical.

11 Responses to Globe profile of Elizabeth Warren

  1. Shawn says:

    I guess, in this time of extremes when it comes to politics, the regular people are looking for politicians who can work together.

    I would ask her what three republican proposals she would have voted to support in the last year?

    And then, I would ask for three republicans who would endorse her candidacy.

    Otherwise, we’re just looking at another partisan Democrat who will continue the gridlock in DC.

    I see many Dems supporting Scott, both in Ads and in Lowell. And I’ve seen him vote for a number of items that I did not agree with. He’s been more bipartisan than almost all other pols (other than the Maine Senator Snow).

  2. Publius says:

    I agree with that Warren is unfairly attacked for her vaulting ambition, ambitions that we would never criticize men for.
    However it is interesting to note when she became a Democrat. For most of her career she taught in states that were Republican or had a good Republican presence. Right after she becomes a permanent fixture at Harvard, she becomes Democrat. I doubt it was a coincidence but representative of her “singular ambition”.

  3. DickH says:

    As Warren stated in the article regarding her change in political parties, she doesn’t feel that she has changed her position; she believes the Republican Party left her behind. Anyone who has paid attention to the recent comments of six-term Congressman Todd Akin (R-Missouri) that revealed his firm acceptance of physiological beliefs that were debunked in the Thirteenth Century can fully understand what Warren meant.

  4. shawn says:


    Thats exactly the type of extreme partisanship I was talking about.

    You take an example of one idiot, of whom every republican has repudiated and withdrawn support for, and present him as if he’s the example of a republican. (And then you’ll come out later calling for everyone to stop being so negative.)

    I don’t like it when Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow do it, or when you do.

    This stuff drives people away from participating in the political arena, both as candidates and as voters.

  5. DickH says:

    Shawn – you’re living in a fantasy world when it comes to your assessment of the national Republican Party because Mr. Akin is not out of the mainstream either in that party or in that party’s elected representatives in Congress.

  6. Christopher says:

    Though ideally I’d like more cross-aisle work that’s not going to fly in this environment, and that’s entirely the GOP’s fault. We tried reaching out and all we got for our efforts were goalpost moving and filibusters. If we re-elect Obama, which I hope we do, electing a Dem to the Senate would be contributing to cooperation, not gridlock. There are going to be competing ideologies and there should be, but we need bold action. Compromise only works if both sides do it, but we need to at least start with someone like Elizabeth Warren.

  7. Christopher says:

    Also, Scott Brown is full of it when it comes to bipartisanship. He follows the party line, including needless filibusters, almost as much as anyone. He can point to a few votes to “prove his independence”, but only when Mitch McConnell says he can because the GOP already had enough votes.

  8. Joe S says:

    “The new survey, conducted from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Central time, found that while 75 percent of Missouri voters thought that Akin, a GOP congressman from Missouri, was inappropriate in his comments Sunday about “legitimate rape,” they still planned to vote largely among party lines.”

  9. Dean says:

    The Republican platform has continued to contain language endorsing a constitutional amendment protecting human life.

  10. David M says:

    I am a Democrat who will vote for Scott Brown. I don’t want to see another bill like Obama Care jamed through.