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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/10/15

Warren Spinelessly Coddles Clinton, Distances Sanders

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Anyone notice what a complete wuss Liz Warren is when it comes to criticizing or pressuring Hillary Clinton? If you haven't, you're probably missing the most significant story in American politics.

Did .Godfather. Hillary threaten Liz Warren's grandkids? Liz sure acts like it.
Did .Godfather. Hillary threaten Liz Warren's grandkids? Liz sure acts like it.
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Warren, so courageously backboned in opposing Obama's Wall Street revolving-door cabinet nominees, or his blood sacrifice of the 99% to the corporate Moloch called TPP, instantly devolves into a quivering lower invertebrate when criticizing Hillary is concerned. And almost as if receiving their marching (or rather, slithering) orders from Liz, every single Congressional Democrat reputed progressive--the donkey party's fabled "Warren wing"--unanimously complies.

One would swear the widely rumored "Clinton mafia" actually exists--and had ordered a hit on Warren's grandkids. Sadly and scarily, not even that tin-foil conspiracy explanation of Warren's cravenness can be summarily dismissed. People close to the Clintons, especially ones with information potentially damaging to them, do have an uncanny knack of turning up dead, frequently in mysterious circumstances. And, as investigative journalist Greg Palast documents, all sorts of shady, off-the-radar disappearances--of things like potential criminal evidence--seem to swirl around Hillary. What is clear is that the Clintons feel no deep qualms about spilling blood: Hillary's hubby Bill, when president, showed a certain grandiose callousness about ending human lives, with no record of Hillary objecting.

Of course, Bill Clinton's death toll consisted of mere foreigners, which explains why Americans--Warren and her wing included--largely don't know and don't care. But if anything happened to red-blooded American Warren, not even vulnerable to Obama's name and ancestry issues, people would care. And many Congressional Democrats, not just Warren wingers, would care deeply, since Warren and her progressive wing are the slender thread maintaining rank-and-file progressives' faltering allegiance to the Democratic Party--a party even veteran Democratic operative Bill Curry rightly describes as having lost its soul.

So when Warren and her "wing"--from any motive--show signs of kowtowing without the faintest criticism to oligarch wet dream Clinton, they dangerously fray the slender thread holding progressives in the party. And focusing on a far more plausible motive than "Clinton mafia" death threats for sparing Clinton all criticism--like political cowardice about publicly offending or devaluing a woman whose nomination they deem inevitable--paints their behavior in a worse, not better, light. For intimidation by threats of murder or mayhem would be forgivable; craven unwillingness to take political risk in a supposedly progressive party shamelessly salaaming to oligarch donors and their agendas is not. If Warren and her wing dare not criticize Clinton now on behalf of their own principles when she as a candidate is vulnerable--and potentially far more vulnerable with Bernie Sanders, an infinitely better progressive, as competition--do they seriously expect to exercise progressive leverage when she's busily repaying her dynasty's Wall Street pals' generous donations as president?

With progressives seeking a hostile takeover of the party from its corporatists, this craven unwillingness to criticize or pressure Hillary and her Wall Street wing--precisely when the moment is ripe--drives us to despair of Democrats and deepens our willingness to walk from the party. For we're not even talking about the radically courageous--and deeply desirable--embrace of peace and respect for foreign lives now unheard of among Beltway pols. No, we're talking about caving to Clinton on the Warren wing's own bread-and-butter economic issues. For when Warren and company go so far as tolerating without comment the Clinton campaign's embrace of Citizens United--surely anathema to their principles--is there any end to the concessions they'll make to Hillary's corporatists?

This fact--"progressive" Democrats' utter unwillingness to criticize Clinton, even when she violates their most cherished progressive principles--deserves far more emphasis than it's getting. Indeed, if we had a free, insightful watchdog press, and a vigilant, public-spirited citizenry to match, it would be the top headline screaming from every major newspaper. For it's a big fracking deal. Among other things, it should have those of us who applauded Bernie Sanders' decision to run for president as a Democrat furious. Furious enough to leave the party forever after Hillary defeats Bernie in the primaries--which seems inevitable when highly visible Congressional progressives not only won't support the candidate who best embodies their principles (Sanders), but won't breath a word of criticism against one who flouts them egregiously on a daily basis (Clinton).

And in this mass "progressive" jellyfish swarm, the invertebrate flagrantly setting the spineless tone for all the others is Warren. Now, disappointing as it is to progressives that she didn't run for president, no one should be blamed for declining to shoulder such a staggering responsibility; indeed, glibness about thinking oneself qualified for the job is probably a pretty fair index that one isn't. Compare Hillary, for example, who feels not merely qualified but entitled. Whereas Bernie Sanders was the most reluctant of candidates, evidently thinking Warren, sharing most of his views and already a Democrat, had better prospects of beating Hillary for the party nomination; he awaited her definitive refusal before deciding himself to run. And he clearly did so because he feared no Democrat with his own name recognition would dare call Hillary out on behalf of the progressive principles her very existence stymies. And given the pathetically lukewarm reception of his own candidacy by progressive Democrats, he evidently was right.

As Democrats' official message shaper, the most flagrant example of this "pathetically lukewarm reception" for Bernie's candidacy is Warren herself. In the quintessence of non-probing journalism, with a headline that amounts to reporting malpractice, the Boston Herald regaled us with the story "Elizabeth Warren praises Bernie Sanders' prez bid." If only the Herald had had the decency to place scare quotes around the word "praises." Or if only, wanting to tell the whole truth tersely, they had written, "Warren damns Sanders' candidacy with faint praise." For nothing could be chillier and more distancing--or a better indication native Oklahoman Warren had made the traditional Puritan-inspired cold-fish Boston Brahmin manner her own--than her reception of Sanders' candidacy. Indeed, Henry James's lesbian bluestocking feminist Olive Chancellor of The Bostonians could scarcely have received her charming, hot-blooded conservative Mississippi cousin Basil Ransom--daggers-drawn rival for her protegee and love interest Verena--with more distant, chilly Beantown politeness.

And Warren's latest spineless defense of Clinton--pretending Clinton's solidly in her camp on fighting TPP fast track--is more nauseating still for progressives. Sure, in citing a passage buried in Clinton's book Hard Choices against the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision--one of the strongest reasons (among many) for opposing TPP--Warren is on solid factual ground. But given the serious danger TPP, especially TPP fast track, poses to our nation, Warren should be furious at Clinton for not showing the courage of her (supposed) convictions and openly denouncing TPP fast track, as Bernie Sanders incessantly has. For someone claiming, as Clinton did in her candidacy announcement, that she wants to be the "people's champion" (I can still hear the banksters snigger), she's pretty damn cowardly about openly defending them from a trade bill progressives almost universally think harms average people gravely. Especially when not just an argument from her own book, but the populist climate itself, make it politically risk-free for her to do so. When, as an article from Salon notes, "the politics and the policy are in perfect agreement" for Hillary opposing TPP, the hooks of this "people's champion's" corporate donors must be sunk pretty deep into her soul to keep her from doing so. And Warren, who evidently takes TPP quite seriously, should be furious with Clinton that she isn't.

For me, the gravity of the economic issues on which Warren and the Warren wing give Clinton a free pass tells me that, where Hillary's concerned, not even they, let alone Clinton, can be counted on the be the "people's champions." And if not the Warren wing, who among Democrats? Bernie Sanders? He can't defend us alone, and if Warren and Congressional progressives simply leave him to swing in the wind, his outsider insurgency against Hillary and the corporate wing of the Democratic Party has zero chance of success. For those who place hope in the success of Bernie's "hostile takeover," I'd recommend joining one of the more radical groups supporting him, of which my daily-growing Pitchforks Against Plutocracy movement is a fine specimen. But join or not, we strongly urge that you contact Elizabeth Warren, demanding that she become more openly critical of Clinton and openly supportive of Sanders. In fact, it would probably be smart to e-mail her a link to this article.

Here are Warren's contact coordinates:


Phone: (202) 224-4543 (Washington); (617) 565-3170; (Boston) (413) 788-2690 (Springfield)

(Article changed on May 10, 2015 at 11:11)

(Article changed on May 10, 2015 at 11:28)

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Patrick Walker is co-founder of Revolt Against Plutocracy (RAP) and the Bernie or Bust movement it spawned. Before that, he cut his activist teeth with the anti-fracking and Occupy Scranton PA movements. No longer with RAP, he wields his pen (more...)

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