Could Candidate Warren beat Donald J. Trump?


Kilgore, Chait puzzle it out:
Could Elizabeth Warren beat Donald J. Trump next November?

Sadly, we have no idea. But in this post for New York magazine, Ed Kilgore makes an excellent, semi-ironic point as he tries to puzzle it out.

Given the fact that Warren such a thoroughly regular everyday person from Oklahoma, she should be able to show voters that she understands their fear of a major change in the American health care system. Or so Kilgore says:

"A populist like her should show some empathy for those who fear big government and politicians as much as they fear insurance and drug companies."

We think Kilgore makes an excellent point, even if it sounds semi-ironic, though possibly only to us. We had a somewhat different reaction to a somewhat similar rumination by Jonathan Chait.

Chait does a good job discussing possible vulnerabilities in Warren's issue palette. But we think he misfires, instructively so, concerning the elephant in the room—the presumably inevitable return of Trump's "Pocahontas" jibes.

If Warren is the nominee, will Trump return to Pocahontas? If he does, will the approach take a toll?

We have no way of knowing. That said, we think Chait misconstrues the situation in two ways which have become standard within our liberal tribe. Here are the relevant passages:
CHAIT (9/18/19): Despite an exhaustive Boston Globe report that her self-identification as Native American had never benefited her career, early media coverage fixated on the issue, and she drew scorn from left and right alike. To Democratic voters, she looked like another victim of Donald Trump’s bullying.


Trump has also stopped, for the moment, injecting his “Pocahontas” slur into the political news cycle, but that will return if she clinches the nomination.
Would Warren be hurt next year if Trump starts it up again? We don't know, but we think we do know these things:

No benefit to her career: Did Warren ever gain career advantage from her self-identification as Native American? We have no idea, and the Boston Globe's assessment, right or wrong, completely misses the point.

They key point is this—it's very hard to avoid the impression that Warren was seeking career advantage by making this very strange claim. It's the alleged motive that's central here, not the question of an actual benefit.

With our characteristic cluelessness, we liberals have been hiding behind that Globe assessment for a long time. It totally misses the point.

All the president's slurs: Question—when did the term "Pocahontas" become a racial "slur?"

We liberals keep dismissing Trump's taunt as "racist," as a "slur." But what makes "Pocahontas" a "slur?" What makes the mocking term "racist?"

Clearly, Trump's nickname is a term or derision in this context—but the derision is aimed at Warren for allegedly making a fraudulent claim.

She isn't being insulted or ridiculed for actually being Native American. She's being ridiculed for allegedly making a (decades-long) false claim to that effect.

News flash: If Trump returns to that attack, it won't sound like a "racist" "slur" to all kinds of in-between voters. They'll understand what's being alleged. Our complaint will sound like what it is—a dodge, which misses the point.

Why did Warren make that weirdly implausible claim for all those years? We have no way of knowing, but on its face, it's hard to imagine how she ever thought that she was actually AMERICAN INDIAN, as she once listed herself on an official form.

Whatever the truth may be, the impression that she was seeking advantage is very hard to avoid. Question:

Do we liberals plan to win next year, or do we just mainly enjoy calling Trump a racist? If we actually hope to win, we ought to consider the way this derisive attack might actually come across out there in the real world.

We have no idea if this type of attack would be successful next year. We do know how we liberals sound to many unaligned voters:

It sounds like all our sentences have a noun and a verb and a word ending in "—ism." It's the way we currently like to play. We'll guess that this approach could be a loser in this odd circumstance.

A final point: Liberals should start to plan for this attack today. Just consider the history.

Back in Campaign 1988, the Willie Horton attack was always going to come. When it came, we were caught by surprise.

So too, amazingly enough, with Candidate Kerry and the Swift boat attacks in Campaign 2004. The attack was always going to come. When it came, it did great damage.

Pocahontas will likely be back. Are we going to plan ahead, in realistic ways, or will we just gambol and play?


  1. "Whatever the truth may be, the impression that she was seeking advantage is very hard to avoid."

    From the point of view of your zombie-cult high priests, I imagine this is her main selling point: she is wholly corrupt.

    As they used to say about your Crucified God Algore (if I remember correctly): 'she will say anything'.

    And that's perfect from, again, the point of view of the globalist establishment, global finance.

    They question I'd like you ask, dear Bob, is this: why would you, dear Bob, want her to win? If she does, it will, most likely, end catastrophically. More wars, further deindustrialization of the country... Why would you want all that?

  2. The adage you can't prove a negative, applies in this case. Did Warren's Native American identification affect the people who voted on her promotions and tenure? How could anyone prove that it didn't? Of course the people involved will say that it didn't affect their decision, but they could not be expected to say that it did affect them.

    1. As usual, David, you treasonous bastard, you have things ass backwards. Warren nor anyone else has to "prove it didn't". You racist prick assholes have to prove it did.

    2. mm - If she were being charged with a crime, you would be right. However, the question here is whether voters will think she took advantage of unjustified affirmative action and vote against her because of it. I do think it hurts her. In the minds of voters, Warren's deception may tend to offset Trump many deceptions.

    3. The straightforward question that Warren can't answer is WHY she claimed to be NA. I personally believe that she honestly thought she was a small part NA. However, she must have known that she was mostly Caucasian. If she wasn't trying to take advantage, then why else did she not put down her predominant race?

  3. “it's very hard to avoid the impression that Warren was seeking career advantage by making this very strange claim. It's the alleged motive that's central here, not the question of an actual benefit.”

    Somerby and the GOP will not be satisfied apparently until Warren says that she indeed sought some advantage. She can say that that was not her intention, but Somerby is indicating that that won’t be sufficient, because some will still question her ”motives.”

    In this scenario, nothing Warren says, outside of agreeing with the GOP’s characterization, will ever be good enough for conservatives or for Somerby.

    And then, guess what: even if she “admitted” it, they would then say “told you so”, and still call her Pocahontas.

    Despite Somerby’s dire warnings, how many people even care about this? Liberals don’t. The GOP only cares because it’s childishly derisive, and certainly not because their deeply held beliefs are offended by it. Swing voters (what few there are) aren’t likely to care either, especially when they get a chance to learn about Warren and hear her speak.

    Meanwhile, the mentally ill Trump lies with every breath.

  4. Trump is a liar and a thief.
    And Putin's bitch.

    Oh, wait a minute, he's nuts. Let's find a 24 year old female journalist and blow her up.

  5. You seem nice. Too bad you can’t score with the chicks.

  6. Is this the post of someone who wants liberals to win in 2020?

    Even if one views Somerby’s multiple posts about Warren and her “Indian” problem as his way of warning liberals about 2020, that doesn’t justify his labeling of her a “terrible candidate”, as he has done on more than one occasion. And, we say this to all Somerby’s defenders: every time someone in the media (and Somerby is part of the media, like it or not) questions Warren’s motives and calls her a terrible candidate, that is how those ideas spread and grow and get amplified. Somerby cannot act as though he isn’t a part of the media discourse about Warren. The same kinds of speculations contained in this post, were they to appear in more prominent publications, would quite clearly spread a negative narrative about Warren.

    It’s one thing to express a warning about the way the issue might damage Warren. But it is an entirely different matter to label her a “terrible candidate.” That gets into the ether.

    And Somerby offers no advice, no response, nothing to deal with the threat he identifies. He merely questions Warren’s motives and leaves it there.

  7. Bob,
    If you are a liberal, I'm Atilla the Hun.

  8. “It’s one thing to express a warning about the way the issue might damage Warren. But it is an entirely different matter to label her a “terrible candidate.” That gets into the ether.

    No, I think the “terrible candidate” comment was on point – at the time it was written - in terms of electability. You do know, don’t you, that the Obama campaign received an advertising-industry award for their efforts to elect him. Because that’s what our Democracy has come down to: Electing people based on their advertising.

    As I’ve said before, great policy can be overwhelmed by the sliming contained in the ad wars. The pols figured it out long ago. It’s not about policy, but personality. I hope I’m wrong this time, because I really like Warren (and I’m sure Bob does too).

    But Electoral College. Yeesh.


    1. Off camera at 1:48:08 Matt Lech, in his Mets cap, offers an angle of this I hadn't considered. Michael Brooks makes a couple of good points towards the end of this eight minute clip. LINK

    2. His point is only cogent if you believe that colonialism is still a force several hundred years after this country was settled. Do you believe that CMike?

    3. 10:10 AM asks if "[settler] colonialism is still a force several hundred years after this country was settled."

      I take it that 10:10 AM is unaware of the fact that this country has more than a mid-Atlantic and a northern east coast. Actually, for what is now the contiguous forty-eight states of the country, a frontier continued to exist until the the late 1880s, which dates to but one hundred and forty years ago.

      Taking note of the close of this era, the historian Frederick Jackson Turner began advancing his Frontier Thesis in 1893. Turner's thesis assumed the rightfulness of white/European supremacy. At the same time in parallel there was a reconciliation between North and South concerning the legacy of the Civil War with the adoption of the John Ford Rhodes history of the Civil War. Rhodes saw slavery as an anachronistic institution, the eradication of which was a necessity, not so with the principles of white supremacy and therefore, it was southern whites who were the wronged people during Reconstruction.

      These two theories largely made up the myth of the nation that the majority population adopted prior to World War 2. Nazi race supremacy, the challenge to capitalism of the race neutral doctrines of Marxist-Leninism, and the embrace the opportunity by the United States to replace the European powers as the new global super-power required that the myth of the American nation to evolve at home so that it could be sold abroad.

      Elizabeth Warren, born in 1949 in Oklahoma, would have been very much shaped by this evolution of white identity.

    4. All right! Enjoyed the Seder video, and got some links to peruse, though not at this time. (Tequila).

      Not sure I understand the “one drop of blood” concept, or the ideas behind it, but I think we could agree: This whole thing will come down to dueling adverts.

      And the Electoral College. JGDMFC. That’s an acronym for my mightiest swear. I must not go beyond this. I must not add any more Gods. They’re all over the place. And they seem not to wish us well.


  9. Under the guise of pretending to care about candidates, Somerby attacks Warren. Of course, his hero Trump gets the benefit of the doubt all the time from TDH.

    Somerby is not a liberal. He is a Trumptard, trying to sow panic in the Dem Camp. He is a useless idiot for Trump.

  10. 'Pocahontas will likely be back. Are we going to plan ahead, in realistic ways, or will we just gambol and play? '

    And how does Somerby propose we plan ahead ? Of course, he doesn't. Somerby's sole goal is to attack liberals. He won't suggest anything -- perhaps his worshipful defense of Trump and Roy Moore takes up all his time.

    1. You are the troll, deadrat. This guy is saying something that many of us agree with here.

    2. You obviously don’t know what a troll is. Take a look at Mao, our Village Troll. It’s all “dembot zombie psycho witch,” simply designed, as he himself has admitted, to prompt outraged responses.

      Now look at 9:16P. It’s all Somerby worships Trump and Roy Moore. TDH has said that Trump is possibly insane and his reign is disordered. He’s never spoken a word of admiration for Moore. And @9:16P never offers any evidence to the contrary. Of course he can’t, since none is available.

      I think that qualifies as trolling.

      I’m sorry that TDH won’t write the blog entries that you and 9:16P wish he would. But it’s his blog. If what he covers is unsatisfying to you both, why do you stay here? This is an enduring mystery to me if trolling isn’t the explanation.

  11. The Trump White House and the Republican Party are a criminal enterprise.

    Elizabeth Warren once said she was of American Indian background. The horror!

    1. The Bushes and the Republican Party were criminal enterprises back in the day.

      Al Gore was pretty much a straight arrow, and George W was a both a dunce and a liar. By the time the 2000 election rolled around, Al Gore said he invented the internet. Who won that year?

      John Kerry was a war hero, and George Bush was a draft dodger.

      In 2004, when the swiftboat hoax was over, who was a hero and who was a goat? Who won that election?

      If you think this will be played fairly, think again.

    2. of course the election wouldn't be fair, and Somerby will spend all his time defending Trump and attacking liberals, trying to make it even more unfair.

    3. Yeah, sure. Bob Somerby, kingmaker.

      What an interesting world you live in. And by "interesting," I mean deluded.

  12. I've been reading and hearing all these Pocahontas laugh lines for years. So many Republican voices complaining about Warren lying for advantage. But I've never heard any mention of any other person who was using Native American heritage to compete for the same or similar academic positions as Warren. Were there really positions reserved to favor Native Americans? Did any others ever apply for or receive similar faculty positions? Did Warren ever displace any Native American applicants, or did she ever join another Native American on the faculty? How often was Native American heritage a factor in faculty appointments?

    1. There is no evidence that Warren did this for any nefarious reason. It gave her a connection with people in OK and it made her special, but you need tribal membership to gain any employment, education or financial advantage and she didn't have that, nor did she claim it. She claimed a couple of grandparents, and that seems to be based on longstanding family stories (the kind every family has).

      Somerby has said he was a Sanders supporter. Warren is the strongest challenger to Sanders, the biggest threat to his campaign. She has been gaining support while he has stagnated. His attack on Warren is transparent.

    2. Sorry, you don't think like a racist wingnut asshole like DinC. According to his Kafkaesque logic, she has to prove it didn't help her in any way, and as everyone knows it is impossible to prove a negative, therefore she is guilty as charged and racist pricks like DinC can in good conscience write her off. As long as they have a pretext to hallucinate some unfair advantage based on race, end of story. Don't you get it?

    3. [Y]ou need tribal membership to gain any employment, education or financial advantage....

      Do you have evidence for this? You need tribal membership to gain any advantage from tribal resources, e.g., distributions of profits from tribal casinos or royalties from tribal oil wells. But EEO categories mostly rely on self-identification.

      "A couple of grandparents" would have given Warren a so-called blood quantum of 50%. No federally-recognized tribe requires more. I think she's said that the stories of Indian ancestors came from her grandparents. Her DNA test shows those to have been at least six generations back.

  13. It seems possible that Warren affiliated with Cherokee Indians because she didn't want to appear racist in a state where there is a large Indian presence. That may have been the "gain" Somerby is seeking.

  14. How is Warren supposed to beat Trump if liberals like Somerby attack her every time she turns around?

  15. "Could Candidate Warren beat Donald J. Trump?"

    Easily. Who is going to vote for Trump?
    Not Democrats.
    Not Republicans who aren't turned on by Trump's bigotry (i.e. pretty much all of them, I'm told).
    Not Republicans who are very concerned about the rigged economy (i.e. again, pretty much all of them I'm told).

    So, who? Independents? There aren't enough of them to make any difference in a national election.

    The question isn't, "can candidate X beat Trump?" The question is, which candidate can't beat Trump."

  16. In Oklahoma everyone claims to have some Native American heritage, it is simply a matter of pride and honoring our ancestors. No one gets any advantage for it.

  17. Look, it is a weakness for Warren. No one is without at least one, no one being perfect. But it is minor, by any reasonable reckoning, already mitigated by endorsements from actual native Americans. Bob's emphasis on it is weird, to say the least.

    1. It's not weird at all, since Somerby wants Trump to win, so he bashes Trump's opponents.

  18. But it is minor, by any reasonable reckoning

    But we're not living in reasonable times. We're living in the Trump era, and the election will be awash in xenophobia and misogyny.

    I hope you're right. I just doubt it.


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