Senator Warren's grand unveiling of her “native ancestry” brought scorn and ridicule from the Left, the Right and even the tribe she claimed a connection to. Was this an attempt to fire up her base for a 2020 presidential election?
Early in her academic career Senator Elizabeth Warren identified herself as a Native-American woman. She listed herself as Native-American on a key legal directory seen by hiring committees. The University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School where she taught listed Ms. Warren as a minority faculty member. Harvard Law School announced with some fanfare that she was the school’s first tenured “woman of color.”
Ms. Warren even contributed to a Native-American cook book which listed her as a Cherokee. She has reported that her parents had to elope because her father’s parents said he couldn’t marry her mother “because she is part Cherokee and part Delaware.”
Republicans saw this as a form of academic fraud and President Trump began deriding her as “Pocahontas.”
Earlier this year the President said that if he ever debated the Senator he would give her a DNA test kit and would tell her: “I will give you a million dollars, paid for by Trump, to your favorite charity if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian.”
This week Ms Warren released the results of a DNA test and claimed vindication.
Her local newspaper, the “Boston Globe” headlined: “Warren Reveals Test Confirming Ancestry.”
Ms. Warren also demanded payment from Mr. Trump to a charity.
For Democrats and others who only read headlines, this was a feel good story and perhaps Mr. Trump should pay up.
Or perhaps not.
The geneticist that Ms Warren cited actually made this claim:
“While the vast majority of the individual’s ancestry is European, the results strongly support the existence of an unadmixed Native American ancestor in the individual’s pedigree, likely in the range of 6-10 generations ago.”
This allows for the possibility that Ms. Warren is between 1/64th and 1/1024th Native American.
According to a study reported in 2014, these ratios of Native American ancestry are typical for Americans of European descent.
But by demanding a Trump payment Sen. Warren seems to be maintaining that she is an “Indian.”
If most white people, based on having a Native American ancestor up to ten generations back, are “Indians,” we are nearing the end of identity politics.
Ms. Warren is pivoting now, claiming that she is defending her family: “My parents were real people, the love they shared, the struggles they endured, the family they built, the story they lived will always be on my heart. And no one, not even the President of the United States, will ever take it away from me.”
That of course is not the issue.
The issue is more closely approximated by Cherokee Nation, which is based in Oklahoma, which criticized Ms. Warren, saying she was “undermining tribal interests” by claiming Native American heritage.
Question: What is the significance of all this?
Answer: two points:
• That Donald Trump has some weird ability to make his opponents do stupid things. (Does she help her claim by publishing that possibly one of her great great great great great great great grandparents of hers might have been a Native American?)
• That Senator Elizabeth Warren will run for president in 2020 and is firing up her base.
That race will have a crowded field.
Elizabeth Warren is a national figure, a serious person (within the democratic party) and in the front-tier of Democratic hopefuls for president in 2020. She brought this issue up this week after people thought it was dead. While trying to compete with Trump in the insult game, she made a fool of herself.
After the “Boston Globe” nearly claimed victory for her against Trump, it had to clarify: “Due to a math error, a story about Elizabeth Warren misstated the ancestry percentage of a potential 10th generation relative. It should be 1/1,024.”
She wins a stupid argument because she may be one one-thousandth Indian? The levity here may be worth the distraction of all of this.
It goes at the heart of identity politics, affirmative action and the diversity movement. Most conservatives don’t believe in the quota systems that these sorts of programs inevitably cause but we have learned to live with them. If someone is gaming them, though, it brings up additional issues of personal integrity.
It once again showed Donald Trump’s ability to cause people to do stupid things. Call it “Trump derangement syndrome” or something else, Trump has the ability to throw professional politicians off their game and make them do astonishingly stupid things.
This is of course isn’t a huge scandal. It just provides a quick snapshot of Elizabeth Warren’s character at a time when she essentially faked her ethnicity to presumably gain an edge – at least at Harvard and possibly the University of Pennsylvania.
Despite her complete failure this week and the subsequent ridicule, Mrs. Warren remains extremely popular and is still presumably in the running for 2020.
Trump, much like her fans, would be thrilled to see her win the democratic nomination.