Elizabeth Warren

The Anybody-but-Warren Primary

Last night's debate started with attacks on Trump, but turned into a referendum on Elizabeth Warren.


Heading into tonight's Democratic primary debate, two major developments were in play. The first was the Medicare for All financing plan advanced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), and her subsequent introduction of a transition plan that arguably amounted to a retreat. The second was the rise of South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, especially in Iowa, where he is now a top-tier contender.

What many observers expected, as a result, was that Buttigieg would be the primary target of the evening. Yet as the debate opened, it was Warren who took fire from all sides.

In a post-debate piece for The New York Times, I argue that the attacks on Warren indicate an increasing anxiety among Democrats about both her and her overarching political philosophy, which tries to unite the party's moderate and progressive wings by blending tax-the-rich populism with technocratic, or at least faux-technocratic, specificity.

Although Warren has risen to the top tier, her balancing act may topple in the end, as Democratic voters (and her primary rivals) go looking for someone, anyone, who can present a viable alternative.

Here's how the Times piece starts:

Although the Democratic primary debate began with a series of questions about impeaching President Trump, allowing the candidates to take shots at the Republican rival they all hope to face in the general election, it swiftly transformed into a referendum on another politician who has increasingly presented a challenge to the Democratic Party: Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Over the course of the year, the Massachusetts senator has vaulted into the top tier of Democratic candidates, and for the last several months she has vied for front-runner status. Yet in recent weeks, her momentum has seemed to slow as Democratic voters become anxious that her campaign for "big, structural change" is too liberal, too radical and too risky to trust in a high-stakes election against Mr. Trump.

You can read my feature on how Warren has used dubious academic research to fuel political goals in Reason's October edition.

NEXT: The Kamala Harris 'Case' Against Tulsi Gabbard Doesn't Make Democrats Look Good

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  1. I think there probably is a niche for combining policy wonkery and populist rabble-rousing. But whatever it is, it sure ain’t gonna be combining the worst of both worlds.

    1. Misogynist.

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  2. Warren is the only candidate other than Sanders who has an actual committed base of supporters. None of the others seem to have that. Yes, Democrats would vote for them if they are the nominee. But, I don’t ever seem to meet or hear from anyone who is a die hard Harris or Buttigieg guy or gal. There are a lot of die hard Warren fans who really believe she is going to take on big business and Wall Street.

    I would love to say Warren is a phony and doesn’t mean a word of what she says. But, everything I read says the big money donors in the party hate her guts. They know her a lot better than I do and seem to think she is serious.

    I think that is why the others are going after her.

    1. This is just my gut feeling, but yeah I think Warren is in deadly earnest. To me she is a classic example of the famous C.S. Lewis quote:

      “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

      I think she really believes that she’ll be doing all this stuff to us for our own good.

      1. One of my favorite quotes; the rest of is equally compelling:

        They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

        1. I like the quote too. But I’ve never actually seen anyone quote it in its actual ‘difficult’ context. Where it is about punishment as simple retribution rather than the ‘do-goodism’ of either deterrence or rehabilitation

          1. “According to the Humanitarian theory, to punish a man because he deserves it, and as much as he deserves, is mere revenge, and, therefore, barbarous and immoral. It is maintained that the only legitimate motives for punishing are the desire to deter others by example or to mend the criminal.”

            No, we just want our pound of flesh and a good pay back.

            1. And ‘a good pay back’ is nothing more than do-gooding about the effect of that punishment as deterrence for others.

              1. Tough on crime; gotta be tough on crime [but don’t mess too much with the burbs].

      2. Describes Bloomberg and Steyer as well.

    2. But, I don’t ever seem to meet or hear from anyone who is a die hard Harris or Buttigieg guy or gal.

      Buttigieg has a bit of a Millennial base and some support within the Beltway-Mass Media Complex. Those people are mostly attached to Sanders or Warren, respectively, but the former would probably migrate over to him first if Sanders dropped out. Those were the folks Gabbard and O’Rourke needed to grab if they were to have any hope in hell of a legitimate shot.

      Personally, I think Buttigieg is running for the VP slot because the DNC will be able to easily contrast him with Mike Pence, in the event that Stacey Abrams isn’t picked.

  3. the 10,000 foot view of this nonsense is pleasant.

  4. “…allowing the candidates to take shots at the Republican rival they all hope to face in the general election”

    So don’t really expect much out of this impeachment business.

    1. I wouldn’t expect much of it either. Kennedy pointed it out on her show – Warren, Sanders, Booker, Klobuchar, Gabbard – all are senators. An actual impeachment proceeding would keep them in DC and off the campaign trail.

      1. Gabbard is a Representative, not a Senator.

        1. Then she should just be kept with me.

        2. So will she be present for any of the impeachment hearings and the house vote?

    2. who does?

  5. Still thinking you knock down Biden (the Bob Dole/sacrificial lamb/token opposition candidate) and then you knock down Warren and that opens the door to a surprise last-minute candidate to enter the race, one with the experience and the name recognition to be elected by acclamation and acclimation without the necessity of a strenuous long-term campaign that might expose her fragile mental and physical health, her repulsive character and her lack of morals, principles and intelligence. (I won’t spoil the surprise by mentioning her name.)

    1. Well, if it’s a “she” it can’t be Adolph Hitler, so I got nothin’.

    2. Another alternative – Trump gets removed or takes his ball and goes home for some reason. Hillary returns to the party of her youth and runs as a republican.

      1. Oh lord. Those morons would do it, too. Hell, with the blue team so far left Hilldog’s 2016 positions basically make her a moderate republican.

        This is, of course, why I refuse to vote for either of those accursed colors.

  6. Hey bro. I heard you like articles. So I wrote an article about an article I wrote and quoted the article in the article so you can read an article article article.

  7. So, you just copied what the NYT said and called it a day?

    1. He wrote what the NYT “said.” It’s his article.

  8. A Warning to the Democratic Party About Black Voters

    So it was left to the two black candidates onstage last night, Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, to warn their fellow candidates—and voters watching at home—that they take black voters, and especially black women, for granted at their peril.

    Sometimes you have to see what the enemy is thinking.

    1. The DNC always viewed Blacks as a vote plantation anyway. Stuff them in the Projects and harvest votes every four years.
      They really haven’t changed since the 1800’s.

      1. Yup.

  9. California can’t force Donald Trump to release tax returns, state Supreme Court rules

    Uh oh. Looks like even Commifornia is not all crowding into the Lunaticmobile.

    1. I wonder how Democrats would have felt about States like Texas demanding Obama provide tax returns in order to even be on the ballot there.

      1. racist!

        1. Speaking of racist. The saddest thing happened tonight.

          My son (12) is giving a presentation on leukemia. He was going over it with me tonight. There’s a part that mentions that race is a factor for getting leukemia.

          I told him that unless he wants to be called a racist he needed to explain exactly what that means.

          1. Just call it genetics.

  10. Dear Santa — all I want for Christmas is for that kook Elizabeth Warren to be the 2020 Democratic nominee. That is all. Sincerely, Yawbus

  11. Its going to be BootyJudge…he’s mastering the “Deep Thinker” pose in his press photos…Lefties love that. And he’s gay. Lefties love that even more.

    1. I was positively impressed with Butt’s eloquence and carefully worded answers. Except for his faith (AGW) I find him and Gabbard the least horrible candidates. He’s only 37, however, and gay. Those factors will erode some of the traditional Donkey base.

      He’ll be back in 24, 28, 32…..

      1. I’d think being a white dude is gonna be more trouble than being gay in the democratic primary. In the general election you could argue maybe? But I think anyone who’d refuse to vote for a gay candidate wasn’t voting for the blue team anyway.

  12. She is still the most probable to get the Democratic nomination, as of now. Let’s see how she looks during the Senate adjucation of the Impeachment. If I was a Trumpinista, and I am not, I’d be happy because I don’t think she can beat the President. Of course November 2020 is still a long way off and a lot can happen in a year.

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