Plainly, she was not: Was Elizabeth Warren really The Greatest Candidate Ever?
We ask for an obvious reason. Readers might have gotten that impression from the keening and wailing which occurred when Warren dropped out of the White House race last week.
A million conventionally qualified male candidates (including Kennedy, Reagan, Bush the elder, Bradley, McCain) had been forced to exit previous White House campaigns. An array of conventionally qualified men (including Booker, Inslee, Bennet, Bullock) had already dropped out of this year's Democratic campaign.
No matter! When Candidate Warren dropped out, it was said to be different. Consider a pair of peculiar assessments we've already discussed:
MADDOW (3/5/20): I think that a lot of women around the country right now feel differently about you dropping out. Whether or not they were supporting you specifically for president, you leaving the race feels different.(Note: We've restored Linskey's original text, the text which appeared above the fold on the front page of our hard-copy Washington Post. In Linskey's original text, Warren was said to have "won nearly every debate." Subsequently, someone toned that absurd statement down; on line, Linskey's text now says that Warren "won rave reviews in nearly every debate." That's a less ridiculous claim, but as an act of journalism, it remains a major stretch, more advocacy than fact.)
If Hillary Clinton can't win when she gets the nomination, and then you can't get the nomination, and neither can Kamala Harris and neither can Amy Klobuchar and neither can Kirsten Gillibrand, I mean, I think part of what's going on today is that women around the country are like, "OK, honestly, you know? If it's not, if it's not going to be any of them, let's get real."
Is it just, is it just that it can't be any woman ever?
LINSKEY (3/6/20): Elizabeth Warren attracted big crowds. She won nearly every debate. Her organization was second to none. She developed plans, a strategy and a message. Yet when voting started, she not only lost, she lost by a lot.
Now as Warren, who ended her presidential campaign Thursday, decides whether to endorse either of the two male candidates remaining, her supporters are left to contemplate a factor that many believe contributed significantly to her loss: She’s female.
Let's read between the lines. According to Maddow's weird assessment, Warren was such an amazing candidate that if she can't win her party's nomination, no woman ever will.
According to Linskey's vastly overstated lament, Warren "won nearly every debate;" had an organization second to none; and had policy plans up the yin-yang.
Why would such a phenomenal candidate lose to two white men? The mandated explanation followed. In this way, dogma spread.
Did Warren win nearly every debate? Did she have plans up the yazoo? More to the point, was she The Greatest Candidate Ever?
Almost surely, no—no, she plainly was not. Let's run through some of the ways such systems work.
First, Warren entered the race with a giant problem. Over the course of more than a decade, she had made the apparently crazy claim that her race was "American Indian."
Although she'd made this very strange claim, she'd never been able to explain why she did. One possible explanation seemed obvious. She never really came up with another.
This was already a giant millstone around this potential candidate's neck. But in 2017, she did the dumbest thing any candidate has ever done—she took a DNA test, and she released its results.
The DNA test conclusively showed that her race, as that term is universally understood within the American context, actually wasn't "American Indian." But instead of simply acknowledging this obvious fact, she began to pretend that this had been an issue of tribal membership—which it never had been.
How can a person retain a reputation as Smartest Human Candidate Ever after engaging in such ludicrous conduct? Simple! In a highly tribal time, her supporters directed attention to Donald J. Trump, who had been mocking her by calling her "Pocahontas."
Trump's statement was of course derisive, but the derision wasn't aimed at the woman born as Matoaka, who was subsequently known as Amonute and Pocahontas as well. She was the daughter of Powhatan, whose proper name was Wahunsenacawh. He was the leader of the Powhatan, an alliance of Algonquian-speaking people living in Tsenacommacah, in the Tidewater region of Virginia.
We're sorry, but Trump's derision wasn't aimed at Matoaka. Nor was his derision aimed at Native American people.
Stating the obvious, Trump's derision was aimed at Warren herself. We liberals disappeared this fact by accusing Trump of a "racist slur," the only type of political claim we knew how to make by this time.
An obvious question arises. How could someone maintain a reputation for brilliance after engaging in such ludicrous serial conduct? After all those years of bogus claims about her own race? After an episode as dumb as the taking of the DNA test and the subsequent faux explanations?
Warren was able to maintain that reputation because we humans battle to defend the tribe at times of tribal warfare. For this reason, Warren was also able to retain her reputation of "having a plan for that" (her slogan) even after it became clear that she'd never even had a plan for universal health care, the soul of her campaign.
She hadn't even had a real plan for health care! Here's the way Linskey smoothed that:
LINSKEY: It’s not that Warren ran an error-free campaign. She had to apologize for previous claims of a Native American identity and struggled to explain her health-care plan and how it would be paid for, and her efforts to bridge the party’s liberal and centrist camps fell flat.She "struggled to explain her plan!" In fact, she ended up saying that she would wait until her third year in office to pass Medicare for All.
But her male counterparts made big mistakes as well. And Warren was among six accomplished women who got little traction in a party that recaptured the House in 2018 with a record number of female candidates, elevated a woman as House speaker who regularly goes toe-to-toe with President Trump, and ostensibly has a new sensitivity to gender issues.
Given what typically happens in the third year of a new president's term, that statement was every bit as dumb as her utterly stupid adventure with the DNA test. In effect, this was a flip. At the point, she began to sink in the polls.
Warren said she had a plan for everything, indeed, that was her slogan. Behaving like Trumpist true believers, a certain segment of her party agreed to pretend that she did.
In part, they did so because Warren was a fully qualified female candidate. They dared to dream that she was, by some gender-based magic, The Greatest, Most Brilliant and Best Candidate of Them All.
That said, she wasn't The Greatest, Most Brilliant and Best Candidate of Them All; very few candidates ever are. Her male counterparts did make mistakes, though we're not sure that anyone ever carried a larger millstone into a race than the one Warren fashioned from her endless weird claims about her putative race.
We'd hoped to get farther with this today, but we'll stop here for now. We lost a day to dental woes this week, and there's a lot more to say on this topic.
Personally, we've always been appalled by the way Warren proceeded ahead in spite of the Native American matter, which she could never explain. She was exposing her gullible party to terrible risk as we looked ahead to a general election.
That said, her candidacy, and the leaving of it, have been saturated in low-IQ tribal dogma. In such ways, Warren plainly gained advantages from her gender, even as she may have lost support in other ways from gender-based reactions.
The dogma flowed at the end of last week as Warren left the race. Dogma is bad for the heart and the mind, but has it always been the fuel on which our floundering species runs?
Tomorrow: Likability, taking the leap and (something resembling) hysteria
Still coming: The various things Clyburn said