Sure, we can take it at face value—Obama is merely pointing out that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren just happens to have a great plan. Supporting evidence? Warren has a great plan.
Thing is, Obama knows darn well that anything he says will carry extra importance, it will be analyzed to death (by pieces like this one, and comments like the ones below). As noted, he is measured, cautious in his words, and methodical in his approach. He didn’t write those words for the fun of it. He doesn’t do casual fun.
Also, note that Joe Biden has a coronavirus plan. Obama didn’t endorse it. He didn’t even mention it. But he mentioned Warren’s.
Here’s my theory, and feel free to tell me how wrong I am:
Obama has nothing against Biden’s plan. It’s likely a perfectly fine plan. But Biden has the nomination sewed up. The next step is selling the Democratic ticket. And that will require several pieces to fall into place.
Remember, the vice president has one important job: to help win the presidential race. Everything else is secondary. Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine is a perfectly competent technocrat, and he would’ve made a fine vice president, but he did zero to help Hillary Clinton win her election. So first things first: help win an election.
There are three top contenders for vice president: Sen. Warren, California Sen. Kamala Harris, and Stacey Abrams, the former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives. All three fulfill the one litmus test that Biden has laid out: that the VP be a woman.
All three are crazy smart, charismatic, and competent.
Abrams and Harris are Black, adding much-needed diversity to the ticket. They would also help repay the political debt to the Black community, who single-handedly delivered the nomination to Biden. Warren is white.
Warren and Abrams would help unite a fractured party; Harris hails from the same wing of the party.
Warren and Harris have won big statewide political campaigns. Abrams has not. Of course, Warren and Harris both represent two of the most Democratic states in the country. Abrams came within the margin of voter fraud from winning the Georgia governor’s race in 2018. And Georgia is a swing state. California and Massachusetts are not.
Abrams doesn’t have as much “experience” as the other two, for whatever that’s worth. But I’m not sure what experience is needed here beyond “motivate people to the polls,” and Abrams has certainly delivered. Beyond that, her intelligence and competence are unquestionable.
Warren is 70. Abrams is 46 (!!!). Harris is 55. Some people think age matters, particularly since Joe Biden is 77. While Abrams’ youth is kinda exciting, I won’t lie, I also don’t see the problem with Warren’s age. That age brings the breadth of experience and knowledge that single-handedly provided more substance to the presidential campaign than all other candidates combined. She certainly doesn’t project as “old.” And really, there’re always backups in case the horrible happens to either Biden or the VP, whoever it might be. That’s the whole point of presidential succession (and we’re not losing the House, so Nancy Pelosi is always the backup-backup in a nightmare scenario).
My point? All three would be amazing. All three are qualified. All three would bring something to the ticket that the others won’t. There isn’t a right or wrong answer. We win with all three.
That Obama tweet didn’t arrive in a vacuum. If the goal is to allow Biden to pick a white woman as his second, having the first Black president lay some groundwork could be incredibly helpful.
The theory goes like this: Biden already runs strong with the Black community. Obama would have his back. But Biden is still weak with the party’s progressive wing. Hillary Clinton did a poor job of uniting the party in 2016, and that decreased turnout cost her. Biden can’t afford to make the same mistake. And no qualified woman has more credibility with the party’s progressive wing than Warren. Picking her would bring together all but the most ornery and irredeemable Sanders supporters.
Check this out:
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has been an energetic supporter of Bernie Sanders this presidential cycle. His economic chops are second to few (if any), and would certainly be part of any dream cabinet.
Reich is slowly bringing his Bernie-supporting fans (a huge chunk of his 835,000 Twitter followers) along. Note the “if [Biden] gets the nomination” line. He knows full well Biden is the nominee. But he understands the importance of party unity, just like Obama understands the importance of party unity.
It’s clear that Warren makes that happen faster and more easily than any other option. And that’s why these voices are speaking up.