Trump controls Warren’s narrative and news cycles, and her frustration was palpable when questioned in national media about taking a DNA test.
Elizabeth Warren earned headlines this weekend after appearing on multiple news shows.
Warren wanted to talk about proposed changes to the banking laws, but was forced to defend her disputed claim to be Native American and how it would impact a possible run for president.
Warren was visibly shaken and angry at being pressed on the issue.
One of the headlines generated was that Warren says she is not running for president. But listen to her words very carefully. She does not rule out running for president in the future. She says “I am not running for president” or that she has “no intention” of running for president. That’s true in the present tense.
Even when Chuck Todd pressed her on the issue, Warren would not commit to serving out her full 6 year Senate term if re-elected next November:
This is classic Warren, and very Bill-Clinton-esque. She studies her script in advance, leaves herself outs through careful selection of tenses, and simply repeats her lines like a robot when pressed. It doesn’t matter how the question is phrased, her answer is the same.
My prediction? She’s going to run for president.
The second set of headlines has to do with Warren’s evasiveness when pressed on taking a DNA test to determine if she has any Native American ancestry. All available evidence says she is not Native American.
I discussed an issue the media is missing in a recent post, No, Elizabeth Warren cannot prove she’s Native American merely by taking a DNA test:
This claim that all Warren need do is show any Native American DNA, no matter how small, reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of Warren’s claim to be Native American for employment purposes. Under clear EEOC and Harvard standards, Native American ancestry would not be sufficient to claim Native American status for employment purposes, which is what Warren did.
Nonetheless, the issue of taking an DNA test is so simple that it is irresistible headline material.
The NY Post announced that Warren “refuses” to take a DNA test:
I don’t think that headline, or the many other similar headlines at other publications, is quite right. Warren isn’t refusing to take a DNA test, she just evades the question. No one seems to have asked her whether she already has taken an DNA test.
I know. Duly noted. Finally, I want to get you to respond to the Berkshire Eagle editorial. I know you’ve been asked about it before, but I’ll go ahead and put it up for viewers. “Were you to test positive” — They want you to take DNA test.”Were you to test positive for Native American DNA it would permanently resolve the issue, while possibly shutting down President Trump. Should the test come up negative, it would be an opportunity for the senator to perform an act rarely seen among politicians, an admission of her error and a full throated apology to Native American tribes and anyone else offended by her spurious claim.” What do you make of that idea?
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN:
So let me tell you the story of my family. My mother and daddy were born and raised in Oklahoma. My daddy first saw my mother when they were both teenagers. He fell in love with this tall, quiet girl who played the piano. Head over heels. But his family was bitterly opposed to their relationship because she was part Native American.They eventually eloped. They survived the Great Depression. The Dust Bowl. A lot of knocks. They raised my three brothers, all of whom headed off to the military, and me. And they fought. They loved each other. And most of all they hung together for 63 years. And that’s the story that my brothers and I all learned from our mom and our dad, from our grandparents, from all of our aunts and uncles. It’s a part of me, and nobody’s going to take that part of me away. [Transcript via NBC News]
JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS: Well, I know that you’re looking ahead to November as opposed to 2020, but indulge me a moment here if you would. There are many people who are saying should you choose to run in 2020, and one of these groups is the Berkshire Eagle, Massachusetts newspaper that endorsed you in 2012, that the issue of your ancestry will come up and they’re suggesting that you put it to rest saying, quote: Elizabeth Warren should screw up her courage and take the spit test, a DNA test, a positive test would permanently resolve the issue while possibly shutting down President Trump.
Would you be willing to take a DNA test to put this issue to rest?
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: Look, let’s start again, where you started. I’m not running for president. But let me tell you a little bit about my family.
You know, my mom and dad were born and raised out in Oklahoma, and my daddy was in his teens when he fell in love with my mother. She was a beautiful girl who played the piano. And he was head over heels in love with her and wanted to marry her. And his family was bitterly opposed to that because she was part Native American.
And eventually my parents eloped and they survived the Great Depression, they survived the Dust Bowl. They went through a lot of hard times. They raised three boys, my older brothers all of whom went off to the military. They raised me.
They knocked around and it was tough but they hung together. They hung together for 63 years. I know who I am because of what my mother and my father told me, what my grandmother and my grandfather told me, what all my aunts and uncles told me and my brothers.
It’s a part of who I am and no one’s ever going to take that away. [Transcript via RCP]
Notice how Warren had prepared speeches to the easily anticipated questions about taking a DNA test. Her answer on Meet the Press was almost verbatim her answer on Fox Nws.
Please note, the story about her parents’ elopement because her mother was Native American has been substantially debunked. Cherokee genealogist Twila Barnes uncovered the wedding announcement for Warren’s parents in the local newspaper, and it reflected family joy and community celebration, completely inconsistent with Warren’s family lore.
Regardless of Warren’s story, the fact that she is being asked about taking a DNA test by Massachusetts newspapers and national media is a direct result of Trump’s repeated taunts calling Warren “Pocahontas.” Trump did it again in Pennsylvania Saturday night:
As I wrote when the “Pocahontas” taunts first started, Warren’s vigorous pushback and claims that Trump was racist was to no avail. Trump was branding Warren the way he brands all opponents, Trump branding of Elizabeth Warren as Fake Indian continues, expecting her to run in 2020:
Trump doesn’t attack his political opponents, he brands them. The brand for Jeb was “low energy.” For Rubio, it was “little Marco.” For Cruz, it was “lyin’ Ted.” Once branded, they could not shake the image.
Just ask “Crooked Hillary.” …
Trump is branding her. And being someone who was a fake Indian is her brand. She’ll never shake it.
And so it is. Warren’s media personality is dominated by her Native American problem. Even completely sympathetic types like Trevor Noah have seized on the issue even as they criticize Trump, Trevor Noah: “Elizabeth Warren did something problematic”.
Nothing Warren can do seems to help. Her fierce counterattacks that Trump is racist don’t achieve her goal. So recently Warren tried to embrace Pocahontas and to become a champion of the Native Americans she ignored her entire life, Elizabeth Warren bear hugs ‘Pocahontas’ — Will it work for 2020 presidential run?
As this weekend’s interviews reflect, Warren’s attempt to use the ‘Pocahontas’ taunt to her advantage have, if anything, backfired.
Warren no longer is the master of her narrative. Trump can drown out any other issues Warren wants to focus on any time he wants simply by calling her “Pocahontas.” That generates media coverage, and Warren’s flailing counterattacks simply prolong the news cycle.
Warren’s weekend interviews reflect that she’s cracking under the pressure of Trump’s taunts. It’s not a pretty picture.