Warren's Clintonian Smoke Signals

For folks on the right, Elizabeth Warren's proffered "proof" of American Indian ethnicity is both laughable and puzzling.  Her proof is nothing of the kind, and she's seemingly reopened herself to merciless mockery by conservatives.  On Monday, Tucker Carlson came up with at least a half-dozen silly pseudo-titles for Warren, from the well known fauxcahontas to leader of the #MeSioux movement.  But Warren is playing a different game, one to the Democrat base, and using the time-tested Clinton playbook to do it.  Whether it still works remains to be seen. 

The best Warren's hired expert could do was estimate that she had a single American Indian ancestor six to ten generations back.  This is not very good, and she'd be foolish to crow about it.  Logically, this means that Trump and her critics were right, and she's a fraud.  Warren is about 1.5% American Indian, tops, as are most typical white people in this country.  At worst (as she sees it), she's way whiter, well into Aryan Sisterhood territory.

Of course, logic plays no role on the left, and Warren knows it. 

First off, she correctly counted on the mainstream media reporting quite favorably on the discovery of her distant ancestor.  Contrary to Tucker Carlson's jibes, Lester Holt on NBC reported the development as vindication for Warren, and reporters accosting President Trump put questions to him in the same manner, falsely implying he lost a bet.

Warren has a broader strategy.  Perhaps she's attempting to channel the Nez Perce chieftain Joseph, a clever and subtle strategist, who frustrated his enemies again and again until finally announcing that he would "fight no more forever."  If so, Warren's doing a bad job.  Warren lacks Joseph's honor or subtlety, and at this point, at least, a fight is exactly what she wants.  

Deliberate or not, Warren's approach seems to track more closely to another older white woman also lacking in American Indian DNA, but not chutzpah, by the name of Hillary.  Maybe Warren ought to check for Ashkenazi DNA.

Like Hillary, Warren is taking the approach that attacking Trump is a no-lose proposition for a Democrat – a rather obvious point, but one she is taking the lead on.  And as a woman, much like Hillary, she is willing to cast aside ideas of equality and fall back on her position as a member of the fairer sex when counterattacked. 

So when it was leaked that Trump's chief of staff, General John Kelly, criticized Warren in a private email as rude and obstreperous, she publicly took it as a proof of her toughness and then claimed that Kelly's comments were sexist.  The mainstream media at least pretended to marvel at her political jiu-jitsu, in turning a potential negative into a positive (at least for Democrats) – in other words, claiming Hillary's harpy badge and wearing it proudly.

The American Indian ridiculousness is part of the same strategy.  It simply rekindled a feud with Trump, which is what Warren wants.  It doesn't matter that he's right and she appears delusional.  Democrats don't care if their leaders are a bit bent.  In fact, they might prefer it.  What the base wants is to see Democrats fighting Trump.  Warren is giving them a fight.

Warren is also protecting herself from future Democratic challengers with another Clintonian move, by quickly putting negatives in the past.  

Warren knows that in the long run, the #MeSioux movement is a loser for her.  In the Democratic primaries, Warren will face challengers who really do have nonwhite DNA, people like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, who might find it profitable to attack Warren's obvious lack of authenticity.  Remember, the Dems are all about "authenticity," which accounts for the rise of Alexandria "my grandpa lived in the Bronx" Ocasio-Cortez.  So the idea is to get it out of the way now, a year or two before she's got to confront her opponents face to face. 

Suppose, during a Democratic debate, Booker accuses Warren of deceptively claiming American Indian ancestry to take advantage of Harvard's diversity hiring practices.  That's not a very authentic thing for a good progressive Democrat to do.  What's Warren going to say?

She'll look at Booker with her best disdainful Hillary-like glare and say, "That's all in the past – are we really going to rehash that again?"  Or maybe she'll try some version of Hillary's famous "What difference does it make?" comment.  Or she'll accuse Booker of joining Team Trump. 

The point of doing this exercise now is for Warren to her get problem out in the open early, use it to attack Trump, and hope Trump's counterstrikes will insulate her from Democratic criticism later.  She wants the issue beat to death in 2018, so she can dismiss it as old news in 2020.

Will it work?  Only Wakan Tanka the Great Spirit knows.

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