The downside, however, of being a novice politician has shown this week in her continuing flat-footed responses to the character attacks coming at her from the Right, over whether or not she truly has Native American blood (by all accounts she does) and whether she used that heritage to further her career (by all accounts she didn't).
This is as clear a case of the politics of personal destruction as we've seen in a while, and if you don't believe that, you need to read this column in the Boston Herald, the original source for the story. You're not going to find a more sexist and racist potrayal of Warren, one that exposes precisely what the Right is trying to do to her here. It's a smear job, straight out of the Lee Atwater-Karl Rove playbook, not-so-subtly telling a key segment of voters that this uppity woman (who may or may not also be a minority) took a job away from a white man.
Yes, it's bullshit. Yes it's a blatant character attack without substance. But it's dominated the news cycle this week, and it's time it went away. Warren has to make that happen. The voters of Massachusetts don't care about her grandfather's high cheekbones or her family oral history or her Oklahoman pride in her heritage. She's not running for governor of Oklahoma, she's running for the Senate in Massachusetts, a job for which she is eminently qualified, just as every university who has hired her has attested. It's indisputable that she's where she is today because of her glowing qualifications and hard work, not because of her bloodline or gender.
So it's time for Warren to pivot and stop getting sucked into letting her personal story become fodder for the Right. In retrospect, it was a mistake to check an innocuous box on a questionnaire for a law school faculty directory in 1985, and she should say so. Likewise, if Warren was aware that Harvard touted her as a Native American hire in 1996, she should acknowledge that it was a mistake on her part not to object at the time. She needs to simply own those mistakes, and move on to the real story: what's at stake in this election.
That's whether Massachusetts will continue to be represented by a senator who is nothing but a standard-issue, George W. Bush Republican, backed by Karl Rove. Massachusetts voters need to know that Scott Brown has committed to endless obstruction of President Obama's efforts and that he wants to take the country back to the disastrous policies of Bush.
They're using the Rove attack playbook because they're scared of Elizabeth Warren and the success she has had a consumer advocate. Scott Brown is a reliable lackey for the Republicans and for Wall Street, and they don't want to lose him. That's what this story is about. And that's what Warren and her campaign need to talk about, every day.
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