Elizabeth Warren’s unjustifiable claim to be Native American for employment purposes continues to frame the narrative of her presidential campaign. Call it the Apology Phase.

The first phase was the Family Lore Phase. That Phase lasted from late April 2012, when it was first discovered she claimed to be Native American, until the summer of 2018. Warren repeatedly insisted she was Native American based on what her family told her, and anyone who questioned her story was attacking her parents.

The problem with the Family Lore Phase was that Warren didn’t start claiming to be Native American until the mid-1980s when she was in her 30s and climbing the law professor ladder that eventually led to Harvard Law School. Had Warren grown up as a child believing she was Native American, you wouldn’t have expected her to wait decades to claim that status. But she never identified with or associated with Native Americans until relatively late in life — that doesn’t pass the smell test of someone who took her supposed family lore seriously.

The other problem is that many of the family lore stories have been called into question, particularly the story about her parents having to elope because Warren’s mother was part Native American. There is no evidence that her mother was part Native American, or that it was used against her as to her marriage, which was celebrated in the local newspaper at the time. This is a story Warren did not tell publicly, as far as we can tell, until the people with firsthand knowledge were dead.

The Family Lore Phase gave way the the DNA Phase.

With Trump mocking and branding her as Pocahontas, Warren was under pressure to do something, anything, to shake the narrative that she was a faker. So she took a DNA test, then rolled out the results just before the midterms, with a Boston Globe puff piece and slick video. It was a disaster. The DNA test showed Warren might be as little as 1/1024th Native American by DNA. Even worse, taking such a test was offensive to actual Native Americans, who do not use DNA as a measure of whether one is Native American, much less a tribal member. Democrats were shaken and worried that Warren took Trump’s bait and would not be able to withstand a general election campaign.

The DNA Phase then gave way to the current Apology Phase. Warren hardly claims to be Native American anymore, though she uses a linguistic sleight of hand, repeatedly focusing on tribal membership. The problem isn’t just that Warren isn’t a tribal member, she’s not Native American at all. So focusing on tribal membership is a dodge.

Despite all the apologies, Warren can’t shake her Native American problem, because she just can’t admit that she tried to rig the system. She can claim that she didn’t in fact get hired because she checked the box (something that can’t actually be determined until her complete hiring files are released), but the suspicion still lingers that she tried to benefit.

Former Obama adviser David Axelrod interviewed Warren on CNN, and asked her why she checked the box. The Daily Caller reports:

“The question that I’ve never understood is why? Why did you in 1986 fill out on your — I guess it was your law license or something — an exam application, ‘American Indian’? Why did you check those boxes?” Axelrod questioned. “Because obviously that’s a very small part of your lineage, you know, 1/32nd or something. So why did you do it?”

Warren responded with an excuse she has used repeatedly, which is that she believed stories about her heritage told by her family members.

“I grew up in Oklahoma, I learned about my family the same way most people learn about their family,” Warren asserted. “Based on what I learned growing up, and the fact that I love my family, decades ago I sometimes identified as Native American.”

Warren denied that identifying as Native American was ever a tactic to gain favor with potential employers, despite the fact that Harvard Law School once touted her as a Native American professor. A Fordham Law Review article from 1997 identified Warren as Harvard Law’s “first woman of color.”

“But the universities kind of fudged and used you for their own purposes,” Axelrod answered.

“It never had anything to do with my getting a job,” Warren said. “Even so, I shouldn’t have done it. I’m not a person of color, I am not a citizen of a tribe.”

Axelrod also asked if Warren made a mistake by releasing a video about her DNA test results, to which Warren said, “I can’t go back — all I can do is go forward … I think I have [learned from it].”

It’s cringeworthy.

I don’t know if Warren’s campaign is over because of the Native American issue. Assuming she can raise the funds, she’ll keep on pushing forward. But she’s never going to rid herself of her Native American deception.