"I worry a lot," Elizabeth Warren admitted this week. "I worry across the board."
If whining and complaining is how the Great Progressive Hope of the Senate inspires enthusiasm in voters, then despair all ye who enter the fresh hell of her Yahoo! interview with Katie Couric.
What's really worrisome to me is how narrowly Warren defines the "core economic issues" of our time (hint: it's not the record wealth inequality that was a popular talking point of Democrats for a couple of minutes last year before a plutocratic temper tantrum sent them all scurrying to fetch imaginary "opportunity ladders" for one and all.)
Not even close. Warren's core issues, the issues that "it is critical that we speak up for" are as follows: the $10.10 minimum wage, reduced interest rates on student loans, pay parity for women, and oh yeah, Social Security.
In other words, just enough crumbs to make the Democratic wing of the Uniparty seem slightly less bad than the Republicans. In other words, the same neoliberal agenda being wheezed out by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. No universal health care. No guaranteed income. No government jobs program. No increased taxes on the rich. No Fed money-drop on Main Street to stimulate the economy, as even some moderates are once again suggesting.
Furthermore, Warren sets up her legislation for failure. The student loan bill, for example, dog-whistled its cynicism loud and clear by gratuitously including the "Warren Buffett rule" tax increase on the wealthy to fund it. Since the Buffett Rule is universally despised by the GOP, she should have and could have simply called for the reduced interest rates without any "pay-for" gimmick at all. The whole purpose was to make Republicans look like sadistic assholes. (Funny how you never hear any of them clamoring for offsets or tax increases to pay for the escalation of the war in Iraq.)
To be fair to Warren, though, she is only a "progressive" because the Washington Consensus says she is. She's a moderate Republican who simply got fed up with all the blatant corruption. That disgust is pretty much all that separates her from such openly compromised politicians as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. On domestic policy, she's as conservative as the rest of them; on foreign policy, she's as hawkish as the worst of them.
And she never, ever criticizes them by name. Like Barack Obama before her, she's a consummate insider only pretending to be an outsider.
Obviously stung by criticism over her pro-Israel remarks last week, Warren did attempt to tone it down somewhat in the Couric interview, allowing that a two-state solution is probably the way to go... eventually. In that part, she sounded like a mildly sedated NetanYahoo! hawk very lightly tethered to a left-handed gauntlet.
On ISIS, though, she talked from both sides of her mouth as ably as Obama on one of his increasingly rare good days. We should rush with all possible speed to crush the terrorists, she says, but only with the careful cooperation of unnamed "others."
On Ferguson and race, she was just a total wuss. She wants to wait until the criminal investigation is complete before "assigning any blame." Because only when we hear both sides can we have a hackneyed "conversation" -- that meaningless thing that all politicians fall back on when they don't want to discuss inconvenient truths in the here and now. While allowing that the militarized cops put a damper on peaceful protests, she uttered not one single word about the endemic poverty in Ferguson. She uttered not one word about that population having "a fighting chance." (the title of her book.)
So much for the Washington Consensus that the Democratic Party is split between liberal (Warren) and centrist (Clinton) factions. If Wall Streeters are really convinced that Elizabeth Warren is such a divisive populist, they are even more paranoid than I thought.
She's a neutered pussycat, yowling on cue for appearance's sake. Meanwhile, those pampered colonies of rabid feral fat cats continue to hiss and claw with abandon, all the way to the teetering top of the scratching post.
Update: Elizabeth Warren and Paul Krugman, NYT columnist and new hire at the Luxembourg Income Study Center at CUNY, will team up for a livestream event this evening at 7:30 p.m. to discuss those hardcore issues of student loan interest rates, minimum wage, and women's health care. I won't be home to watch the live event, but will try to play catch-up tomorrow. In the meantime, if you do watch it, please weigh in with your comments. Since the think tank where Krugman works is supposedly dedicated to the study of wealth disparity, maybe it will actually be included as a core issue. One can always hope.