Elizabeth Warren Won't Say Much About War, But the Draft-Warren Movement Doesn't Seem to Mind

The halfway insurgency.


Talking Points Memo reports:


Two progressive grassroots groups, MoveOn.org and Howard Dean's Democracy for America, announced Tuesday that they would launch efforts to draft Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) into the race, if their members approved.

"There is too much at stake to have anything other than our best candidates in the debate," Ilya Sheyman, executive director of MoveOn.org Political Action, said in a statement. "We are prepared to show Senator Warren that she has the support she needs to enter—and win—the presidential race."

If a majority of its members okay it, MoveOn.org plans to spend at least $1 million to convince Warren to seek the White House. That would include staffing up in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, assembling volunteers and small-dollar donors à la the Ready for Hillary PAC, and media buys. Democracy for America didn't detail its plans, but noted that a previous poll of its members had Warren with a nearly 20-point advantage over Clinton.

Left-wing dissatisfaction with Clinton has two main components: opposition to her hawkish foreign policy, and distrust for her cozy ties with Wall Street. These have been the themes for almost every politician who's been pondering a populist insurgency in the primaries (as opposed to those establishment figures, such as Joe Biden or Martin O'Malley, who would not being challenging Clinton from the left). War and Wall Street: Jim Webb hits both notes. Bernie Sanders hits both notes. When Brian Schweitzer looked like he might run, he hit both notes.

Elizabeth Warren does not hit both notes. Wall Street is a big issue for her; war is not. As Danny Vinik pointed out in October, she hardly ever says anything about foreign policy at all. Her clearest views are on Israel, where there doesn't seem to be much daylight between her and Hillary. The only substantial split Vinik found between Warren and the White House on an international issue was her September vote against aid to the Syrian rebels. But there are absolutely no signs that, should she run for president, she'd make that a significant part of her campaign—let alone any of the issues where she doesn't differ from the liberal interventionists, such as Iran sanctions, or where she simply refrains from speaking, such as the drone war.

Of course, she might not run. She probably won't run. But this is the person MoveOn and Democracy for America are making a vehicle for their dreams of insurgency: a senator who never talks about empire. Is that simply because they think she's the strongest possible challenger to Clinton? Or are they uncomfortable backing a candidate whose criticisms of a Clinton foreign policy would be, by extension, criticisms of the current White House too? Or do they just ultimately not care much about the issue?