MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Over the past few years, it appears more and more that Eliizabeth Warren represents in body, spirit and tenacity the change Barack Obama promised in 2008. Ironically, Obama became changed by Washington into a DC insider, stiff arming Warren's brand of consumer and middle class populism.
Meanwhile, after Larry Summers and Tim Geithner persuaded Obama not to select Warren as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which she designed, Warren went on to defeat Scott Brown (who had won the late Ted Kennedy's seat in a special election). Now, she has seized the mantle that Obama promised.
What is most promising about Warren is that she is disciplined in the battles she takes on. She is well aware that a politician that helter skelter picks fights on a daily basis becomes marginalized. Instead, Warren has, for instance, taken on Eric Holder through formal correspondence for not thoroughly investigating or prosecuting those who committed Wall Street fraud. Warren is not looking to make headlines everyday; she is looking to correct injustices through building her gravitas as a spokesperson for the middle class.
Take her appearance at the AFL-CIO convention last week which you can watch here, and which received a rousing reception. "If we don't fight we can't win," she told the union members and supporters, "but if we fight we will win."
Now, Obama is still spouting that sort of language now and then, but he seems to be going through the rhetorical motions, while being fully aware that -- to the contrary -- the people whom he is fighting for are on Wall Street and in the military-industrial-complex, as well as the likes of Monsanto. He has somehow rationalized that this is good for the nation.
You can't beat the headline of Talking Points Memo for change that matters, "Elizabeth Warren Slams Supreme Court As ‘Subsidiary Of Big Business’" But her remarks were much more than progressive red meat that called out the wrongs inflicted on the middle class, referring to them in specifics (in contrast to Obama who generally believes that there is no contradiction between the hubris of generalized lofty rhetoric and following the Pied Piper of K Street, the DC political elite, and the 1%).
Warren didn't just give pro forma support to unions, she defended pensions (including the one received by her union member brother), collective bargaining, living wages, the social safety network, and the interests of the middle class vs. the "corporate capture of the federal courts."
"The Chamber of Commerce," Warren said, "is now a major player in the Supreme Court and its win rate has now risen to 70 percent of all the cases it supports."
"Justices Alito and Roberts...[are] the most anti-consumer justices in this entire time," she stated with pointed concern.
Of course, she didn't mince words about the lack of accountablity among banks too big to fail and how they have grown exponentially since the crash of 2007-2008, rather than being cut down to size.
Warren even touched the third rail for most progressive elected officials in DC: she slammed free trade agreements and the lack of transparency in negotiations. Why are such negotiations secret? Warren asked: because the American people would oppose treaties like the Trans Pacific Partnership (which is now reportedly enacting an even higher level of secrecy to its multi-national meetings). That is why the negotiations, she argues, are not conducted in the disinfectant of sunlight.
"Wall Street will fight us, but the American people are on our side," Warren told the AFL-CIO convention attendees.
The now senior senator from Massachusetts is breaking the golden rule of Democrats in Washington: don't go populist and don't speak too much anti-corporate rhetoric.
Warren, nearing the conclusion of her speech, points out that Obama was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2012 with a mandate, as he was in 2008.
Obama may be betraying his mandate, but Warren is picking up the baton of change and seizing it.
We have a few other truthsayers such as Bernie Sanders. But Elizabeth Warren has the presence, the poise, the appearance and the charisma to change the conversation on the public policy dictated by the DC insider conventional wisdom of both parties. She can break through to the middle class that has been manipulated by the Koch brothers' front organizations and corporate Democratic talking points.
That is what makes her such a game changing threat to the Republicans and the White House alike.
(Photo: United States Government)