Democrats rightly fear this “issue would dominate any contest with Donald Trump. It would never end.”
We are over a year away from the Iowa Democratic Caucuses, and 22 months away from Election Day 2020.
But already a pall has been cast on the narrative of Elizabeth Warren’s campaign due to her Native American deception which was first exposed in late April 2012.
Immediately after that disclosure, I wrote that this was a potential problem for Warren because it fit into an authenticity problem Warren already had:
This is part of an emerging narrative of Warren claiming to be something she is not.
Despite six years of trying, Warren has not put the issue to bed, and in many ways made things worse. And now it’s a larger part of her authenticity problem that so dominates Warren’s political narrative that even her own campaign brings up the issue in an attempt to preempt further damage.
Warren dodged the issues during the 2012 Senate campaign, refusing even to meet with Cherokee genealogists who wanted to show Warren their genealogical research showing she had no Native American ancestry dating as far back (the early 1800s) as records were available.
The issue lingered after Warren’s election, but never went away. When it became clear that Warren was among top presidential potential candidates, Donald Trump started branding Warren as “Pocahontas.” That term, while offensive to many actual Native Americans, was not making fun of Warren for being Native American (she’s not), but was mocking her for her falsely claiming to be Native American for employment purposes.
The branding of Warren as a fake has worked so well that Warren has focused much of her presidential pre-planning on taking the issue off the table. First Warren used her virtual house press office, The Boston Globe, to rollout stories (1) that Warren never benefited in employment from falsely claiming to be Native American, and (2) her DNA test showing “strong evidence” she had an ancestor whose DNA was comparable to Native Americans 6-10 generations ago, rendering Warren possibly as little as 1/1024th Native American by DNA.
The DNA test in particular has been a disaster for Warren, earning not just mockery from the right, but also harsh criticisms from the Cherokee Nation and left-wing activists.
Neither of the Boston Globe promo pieces settled the issue.
Even as she attempts recover from the DNA rollout disaster, Warren is still trying to deflate the Native American issue in a way Warren supporters, particularly in the media, have tried since 2012: By attacking people who bring it up as racist.
Warren’s campaign has launched a “Fact Squad” website devoted to the Native American issue, and repeating the talking points from The Boston Globe articles:
Based on archives in Wayback Machine, it appears the site went live on December 31, 2018, the day Warren announced the formation of her exploratory committee.
Warren also has a section devoted to calling people who raise the issue racist:
They have called Elizabeth “Pocahontas” and used racist depictions of Native American history, culture, and people to make Elizabeth the butt of a joke. These actions not only dishonor Native people and their many contributions to this country, but perpetuate harmful stereotypes that Native communities continue to fight against.
Show us your papers. Release your birth certificate. It’s all part of the right’s disgusting effort to use race-baiting and fear-mongering to distract our country and divide our people while they rig the system for the rich and powerful.
The real story of Native American communities is about resilience to reclaim their history and traditions. It’s about pride and determination of people who refuse to let their languages fade away and their cultures die. It’s about the contributions they make to a country that has taken so much and keeps asking for more — contributions like serving in the military at rates higher than any other group in America. And it’s a story of hope to give Native people a seat at the table to determine their own future — and build real opportunity for every child to succeed.
Warren’s Fact Squad website also comparing her Native American problem to “birther” claims about Obama, as The Daily Caller notes:
“Show us your papers. Release your birth certificate. It’s all part of the right’s disgusting effort to use race-baiting and fear-mongering to distract our country and divide our people while they rig the system for the rich and powerful,” Warren’s site claims.
It also displays a photoshopped image of Obama behind Warren that reads: “Don’t worry Liz, I think we fooled them.”
Warren’s campaign didn’t return a request for comment on the comparison between Warren’s heritage claims and Obama’s birth certificate.
So Warren’s campaign is proving that to them, the issue of Warren’s Native American claims is very much alive.
Trump also isn’t letting go.
Trump tweeted today a graphic produced by The Daily Wire mocking Warren’s DNA test results:
Its too early to tell if this represents a shift in Trump tactics, but mockery is like Kryptonite to candidates. And Elizabeth Warrens handed Trump that Kryptonite with the DNA test.
Democrats’ worst fears for a Warren presidential nomination is that her Native American problem dominates her campaign the way Hillary’s email problem dominated Hillary. Nathan Robinson, someone who considers himself generally a supporter of Warren, wrote in Current Affairs (emphasis added):
… I have liked Elizabeth Warren for a long time, but this is a massive political liability. She is wrong on this, she doesn’t seem to know she is wrong, she refuses to apologize, and she continues to make it worse. I don’t know why, instead of suggesting that this is a baseless smear, she can’t just say clearly and definitively that she shouldn’t have spent years publicly touting her Native ancestry. This stupid issue would dominate any contest with Donald Trump. It would never end. It would prevent us from ever actually discussing any serious issues. It would be like the goddamn email scandal all over again. And Warren has shown that she would handle it badly. At this point, I do not see how she can be a serious presidential contender.
Between Warren’s campaign launching a website devoted to her Native American problem on the day she announced she’s running for president, and Trump mocking her presidential announcement by focusing on the DNA test, it’s clear that the Native American issue will define Warren’s campaign no matter how hard she tries to silence that criticism.
With the benefit of 2020 hindsight, perhaps Elizabeth Warren simply should have apologized for wrongfully claiming Native American status. If that happened, the issue would have been 6-year-old news, long forgotten, a blip on Warren’s political history.DONATE
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