With great power comes great responsibility. But fortunately, as compensation, comes the exquisite joy of watching favor seekers squirm and grovel. Few of us would likely relish the great responsibility Elizabeth Warren, as our nation's most powerful progressive in a regressive party, now bears. But as for the other thing, the "exquisite joy" part, I suspect many of us would greedily rub our hands together and exclaim--in pop culture's most infamous tag line--"I gotta get me some of that."
Is Liz Warren just too nice? Or too unambitious for power? Or, in her years of excruciating policy-wonk training, did she simply skip out on movies and TV? Maybe it's just a guy thing, but I always related deeply to the Godfather whenever cowed subordinates kneeled to kiss his ring. Can't recall details offhand, but I'd swear having witnessed many "chick flick" renderings of that same gratifying human impulse. One would think, with Warren's rise from humble origins, she'd take a certain hearty relish in getting the upper hand--especially over haughty overlords getting their due comeuppance.
So what gives, Liz? It has dawned on you that you wield immense power, right? Besides that fancy U.S. Senate office and all those folks waving microphones at you, you do realize that arch-dynast Hillary Clinton doesn't routinely invite society's "chopped liver" for private charm offensives in her castle? (Of course, what state of psychological hash they leave in is anybody's guess.)
But maybe, seeing how you didn't go bragging about this private audience--or mention it at all until prompted--you're really not that power hungry. So maybe, acknowledging you're one of those dutiful types who prefer boiled spinach to bourbon-drizzled fudge cake, we need to appeal to the "great responsibility" mantra. If you'll accept on faith our assertion that you wield great power, we trust in your dutiful nature to harry you into the great responsibility part.
To be absolutely clear, let's cite a compelling current example. With one or two well-placed phone calls, you probably have the power--and therefore the responsibility--to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Now, seeing you're one of our foremost public educators on TPP's manifold dangers --to democracy, jobs, health, environment, climate, and sovereignty--no one need convince you how urgent it is to stop it. But perhaps you do need initiation into one aspect of power-wielding most of us would find more natural than breathing: making elite favor seekers grovel. Especially dynastic ones like Hillary Clinton. Believe me, most of us would drool puddles for your chance to make Hillary kiss our ring, toe, buttocks, or nethra yayeh, but perhaps it's not in your DNA. But it's easy--and we'll be glad to show you how. You might even learn to like it. For now, just consider it your grim responsibility.
Now, seeing how little you like to challenge Queen Hillary (which makes most of us dread you'll wind up her court jester), this is going to be tough. But you hate TPP, so keep your eyes on the prize. If it helps, while you're carrying out our instructions, imagine yourself the powerful queen of some long-forgotten kingdom, with neighboring Queen Hillary coming on bended knee to beg your aid in controlling her rebellious peasants. Or--if that sounds too painfully close to present--imagine she's seeking your aid in a new Christian crusade against the Muslims. Oops, way too close again! So let's just say she's begging safe passage through your kingdom for one of her frequent diplomatic peace missions. Now there's a fairy tale no one could mistake for current reality, so "get into character" by imagining it.
Well, powerful regional monarchs of yore didn't have our slogan, "There's no such thing as a free lunch." (A mantra to mumble endlessly, by the way, while you're being wined and dined at Hillary's chateau.) But they did have a pretty firm grip on the concept, reflected in the custom of exacting tribute from conquered peoples and favor seekers. Queen Hillary's willingness to entertain you at her private chateau on her dime places her pretty squarely in the ranks of those nail-bitingly courting your favor. (As do--to get jarringly contemporary--the literally millions of progressives literally pleading with you to replace her as Democrats' 2016 nominee.) So get this through your goody-two-shoes, good-team-player, nonconfrontational skull: you're now perfectly poised to exact tribute--heavy tribute--from Queen Hillary. In days of yore, that tribute doubtless would have comprised endless satchels of the coin of the realm, along with whole caravans of silks, spices, and slaves. But your own populist power, amidst your "pay-to-play" colleagues, derives precisely from being too honest for all that. So let's focus on some form of honest tribute you find deeply valuable and--in the time-honored tradition of exacting tribute--deeply humiliating to Queen Hillary. Like, say, her aid in defeating the TPP.
So, soothingly swaddling your imagination in the silks and spices of yore, let's proceed to the delicate business at hand: teaching you the gentle art of tribute exaction. Difficult as this may seem, remember your gargantuan reward: defeating the abominable TPP. And, to boot, winning the eternal devotion of your grateful subjects.
Now, smart gamblers would be wagering fortunes on Hillary's knowing your schedule better than you know hers, seeing how deeply attached to universal spying and haughtily disdainful of Edward Snowden she is. And besides, folks desperately seeking favors often turn into virtual stalkers. But to properly fulfill your responsibility as tribute exactor, you need to get some handle on Hillary's hours--at least on when she'd find a phone call from you maximally inconvenient. Sure, that runs against your polite grain, but it's absolutely essential for establishing who has the upper hand. So, find out when Hillary's most likely to be in the shower, or even better, has just settled into bed after a long, harrowing day. Or maybe--coup of coups--you can interrupt a phone call arranging her next Goldman Sachs speaking gig. We trust, assuming dinner went well, you're already on each other's speed dial. But remember: any call Hillary gets from you is a dire emergency, and she's putting her political future at risk by not dropping everything else she's doing to take it. Got it? That's the spirit.
But what do you say? It's probably not good policy to come on like a bludgeon at first; just as alpha dogs seldom actually fight or even show teeth, the truly powerful seldom need to raise their voice. (Man, the Godfather movies really would have helped here.) Perhaps it's best to assume the honeyed tones of a super-pampered Southern belle heiress, dripping acid into every sugared pause. So here's a sample script. But anything polite--but likely to induce groveling--will serve as well.
"Hill? Your main girl Liz here. I so hope I'm not inconveniencing you. But see, I read a little something about you in the New York Times that would have kept me up all night, and I get so concerned over you, you know this just couldn't wait. Now, we want you to look populist so you can win big for Democrats, right? Well, this piece in the Times, you know, the one about foreign oligarch donors to the Clinton Foundation --well, how can I put this delicately?--it makes you look like a fracking Bilderberg. You know, Hill, that really creates trouble with my people; they're saying if I go on supporting you, they're gonna stop supporting me! Now, I'm no good to you if they get that crazy, now am I?
"Bottom line, here, girl, you've gotta do me a solid. Yeah, I know I don't normally talk like that, but my advisors have me watching Seinfeld to relax from being so dutiful; no one's dutiful on Seinfeld. But here's the solid: you gotta come out and denounce TPP. Yeah, you heard right. See, with that little oligarch donor thing--and that bit about the Swiss bank accounts really hurt--along with you and Bill doing all those Wall Street speeches, ya know, it's really hard to keep defending you with my people. They keep saying that nice Bernie Sanders is really much more on my page, so how come I'm not supporting him for president? You know I've got your back, girl, but they've got me wondering. They even say they'll stop supporting me if don't back him for president or--I hope you're sitting down for this--run against you myself. Now we don't want that to happen, now do we? So you've gotta make things good with my people. You speak out against fast track and TPP, and I'm sure I can keep them in line. Otherwise, Hill, I don't know, I just don't know."
That will certainly do for a first call. Try it, see what Hilary says, and get back to us. If needed, we'll be delighted to give you advice on ratcheting up the tone.
Anyway, gentle readers, I'll here assume the freedom of a Victorian novelist and, brusquely dropping my pretense you're eavesdropping on my advice session with Senator Warren, turn equally abruptly to addressing you. TPP--and above all, TPP fast track--is a democracy-flouting abomination, and Liz Warren deserves immense credit for standing up to her party's own president in opposing it. But, with a Republican-controlled corporatist Congress drooling to back Obama and fast-track TPP, every available influential political voice is needed to denounce and defeat it. What more influential voice to back Democrats' most powerful progressive Senator than their odds-on 2016 presidential favorite?
Now, most progressives--like the activist ones at Pitchforks Against Plutocracy--strongly suspect Hillary Clinton intends to co-opt Warren's populist reformist rhetoric, while in fact offering mere bread crumbs of reform. We've been burned constantly by Democrats like Obama "only playing progressives on TV," and we'd be foolish to take the reformism of somewhat as deeply connected to corporate and Deep State interests as Hillary Clinton on trust. And, given Warren's enormous leverage for making or breaking Clinton's candidacy, we should be deeply suspicious why Warren hasn't tried working that leverage to secure Clinton's opposition to TPP. Obviously, both require some prodding (that's already suspicious), and we'll have pretty solid evidence of the phony stuff both are made of if they receive that prodding and fail to respond to it. The imminence of TPP--the biggest insult to reforming populism imaginable--provides their perfect test.
So we at Pitchforks strongly urge that you support our initiative: call or e-mail Senator Warren and demand that she pressure Hillary Clinton to speak out against fast track and TPP. Even if you support neither of them, this is still an important initiative, since it's likely to either stop TPP or publicly expose the hollowness of Democrats' two leading pols. Here are Warren's contact coordinates: