|From:||Jaime Fallon <email@example.com>|
|Sent time:||Tuesday, October 25, 2011 12:51:48 PM|
|Subject:||SPAM-MED: [GlobalRevolutionMedia] #Media Monitoring|
Who's Afraid of Elizabeth Warren?
Oct 24, 2011 8:22 PM EDT
The Harvard professor has spooked the right. As she begins her
high-profile Senate campaign against GOP star Scott Brown in
Massachusetts, the consumer advocate tells Samuel P. Jacobs how she
created 'much of the intellectual foundation' for the Occupy Wall
Street movement. She also talks about her past life as a Republican
and the challenges of being a woman on the campaign trail—and says
she's no 'guileless Marxist.'
Elizabeth Warren is running for office in the most high-profile race
in the country not involving Barack Obama. It’s a position that calls
for some tact. So what does she think about the Occupy Wall Street
protests that are roiling the country?
“I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do,” she
says. “I support what they do.”
Warren’s boast isn’t bluster: As a professor of commercial law at
Harvard and the force behind Obama’s consumer-protection bureau,
Warren has been one of the most articulate voices challenging the
excesses of Wall Street. Still, she enjoys an outsize celebrity for an
academic and bureaucrat: a favorite guest of Jon Stewart, Warren, 62,
has become a hero to the left, a villain to the right, and a
fascination for everyone in between. Now that she is challenging
Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown, she has emerged this year
as a poster child for what some of America loves, and an increasing
swath of America hates, about the president.
No one else has Warren’s gift to send the right into a sputtering frenzy.
She is, in the words of former Reagan operative Jeffrey Lord, “a
guileless, fevered Marxist.” George Will put it more primly, but with
the same sense of trepidation. Warren, he wrote, “clarifies the
liberal project and the stakes of contemporary politics. The project
is to dilute the concept of individualism.” Warren likely didn’t calm
those fears by attending a fundraiser hosted by George Soros—the
billionaire bogeyman of the right—in Manhattan last week.
Thanks to her service in Washington, overseeing money distributed to
woozy banks and creating a consumer financial protection agency,
Warren is feared as somebody out to soak the rich and redistribute
wealth. But a look at her biography reveals that she’s not the
hardened leftist some suspect. Here’s Warren’s challenge: Most
first-time candidates for office struggle to create a compelling story
about themselves. Warren has a different problem. She has to un-make
For all those quaking on the right at the sight of an ascendant
Warren, rest easy. Warren’s no lefty. In fact, Warren was a registered
Republican into her 40s. When it comes to ideology, Warren makes for a
rotten heir to Kennedy.
“I was a Republican because I thought that those were the people who
best supported markets. I think that is not true anymore,” Warren
says. “I was a Republican at a time when I felt like there was a
problem that the markets were under a lot more strain. It worried me
whether or not the government played too activist a role.”
Did she vote for Ronald Reagan, who ushered in much of the financial
deregulation which Warren has devoted her life to stopping? “I’m not
going to talk about who I voted for,” she says.
It wasn’t until later in life, when Warren was 46, that she had her
political awakening. At the time, she was serving on a committee
recommending changes to the nation’s bankruptcy laws. Until then,
Warren says, “I said, ‘No, no, no, not for me on the politics.' ”
Warren decided then, in 1995, she could no longer retreat into the
ivory tower. “I can’t just leave this to people who are going to wreck
the lives of millions of American families if they get the chance,”
she says. “I waded in.”
Warren adds that she voted for both Republicans and Democrats and
thought that neither party deserved to dominate. “There should be some
Republicans and some Democrats,” she says. Brown’s campaign could make
the same point. In a state dominated by Democrats, it might help to
have a Republican providing some healthy opposition.
Warren’s political sympathies are as much a product of upbringing as
anything else. Born on the worn-down side of Norman, Oklahoma, young
Betsy Herring grew up in a home that clung to the bottom of the middle
class. She had pluck, taking her babysitting earnings to pay for
application fees to two colleges where she thought she might have a
chance at a debating scholarship. At 19, Herring married NASA engineer
Jim Warren, her childhood sweetheart. A decade later, she was a
divorced, mother of two, starting out a career as a junior law
professor in Houston.
Starting in 1979, Warren embarked on influential, decades-long
research of what causes families to go bankrupt. By 1992, Harvard Law
School asked her to join the faculty. At that time, only five of 60
tenured professors were women. Three years later, Warren agreed to
teach there permanently. The offer was a rich one. In 1996, Warren
was the third-highest compensated employee at the university. Warren
and her husband now live in a $1.7 million Cambridge home. The
candidate who is accused of instigating class warfare seems like she
has stepped out of a Horatio Alger story.
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