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Three years ago Friday, I was sitting in the press gallery of the Senate chamber, looking down at the top of Steve Daines’s head. Daines was presiding and it was late at night. The gallery and the chamber were practically empty. The Democratic minority was trying to delay — or to stop — the nomination of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions to be Attorney General. They were attempting to do so by holding the floor. Off to Daines’s right, Senator Elizabeth Warren rose to speak.
She began to read a letter that Coretta Scott King had written years earlier opposing Sessions’s nomination to the federal bench. Ms. King had minced no words calling out what she’d seen as Sessions’s racism. As Warren read the letter, Daines ruled her remarks out of order because, at the time, Sessions was still a senator and that meant another senator couldn’t attack him personally, even through Dr. King’s widow from beyond the grave. Warren kept reading. Suddenly, Mitch McConnell strode down the aisle and formally silenced her. His explanation launched thousands of T-shirts, bumper stickers, and political bric-a-brac. “Nevertheless, she persisted.”
On the third anniversary of that singular moment, I had to hear Donny Deutsch in Morning Joe dismiss Warren as “strident.” For the record, all the members of the MJ crew, male and female, seem to have a bug the size of a Land Rover up their collective arse about SPW — which leads me to believe that the elite political press learned sweet fck-all in 2016. Every regular at this shebeen knows by now that I hold SPW in great political and personal affection. However, that doesn’t enter into the fact that she has been virtually disappeared since Iowa ended, assuming of course that it has. She outperformed her poll numbers, beat a former vice-president like a drum, and finished a solid third in a race of which we were told relentlessly would produce “three” tickets out. Until, I guess, she won one of them.
A cable chyron said it all — “Sanders, Buttigieg tied. Biden Fourth.” What exactly was the value of that ticket? Moreover, it should bother everyone that the same pejoratives used on Hillary Rodham Clinton — schoolmarmish, strident, unlikeable — are being used now to minimize SPW as a candidate. They are radically different people, although I don’t know HRC as well as I know SPW. But I know them well enough to know that their strengths and flaws are not identical, unless you want them to be. And if Donny Deutsch is nervous about women who are smarter than he is, he at least ought to be more imaginative in how he shows it. (The same stuff also has been aimed at Amy Klobuchar, but in a less concentrated form, probably because she hasn’t cracked double digits in the polls yet. But you wait. If she gains traction, Amy The Boss From Hell will reappear.) But I believe that the disappearing of SPW has more to it than sexism. I think the money power, including those elements of it that own media conglomerates, see her as a genuine threat. Unlike Bernie Sanders, whom they feel they can pink-bait out of contention, Warren knows their tricks and traps better than they know them. How do you think Mike Bloomberg or the powers at Comcast feel about her detailed plan to crack monopolies in our current economy? They don’t think Sanders can win — and they may in fact be wrong about that — but they know what SPW can do if she ends up with the power to do it.
As for the Democratic Party, well, who is the only one of the top four candidates whose campaign came out of that banjaxed Iowa system without complaining about it, conjuring up conspiracy theories, or giving vainglorious victory speeches? Hint: it was the campaign that quietly offered it help to try and fix the mess without trying to take political advantage of it. And it persists.