The Incredible Shrinking Warren

After a Presidential campaign that was largely done in by her prevarications on Medicare for All, Elizabeth Warren is walking back her support for Medicare for All even more in an attempt to convince Biden to select her as his VP pick.

I’ve never been a fan of the snake posters on Twitter, but it’s increasingly obvious that Warren has decided that her own integrity is a reasonable sacrifice to the altar of her Presidential ambitions, even while the snake posting was dumb politically, it was accurate:

In the thick of primary season, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden brawled over “Medicare for All”: He called her approach “angry,” “elitist,” “condescending”; she shot back, anyone who defends the health care status quo with industry talking points is “running in the wrong presidential primary.”

Six months later, with Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee and Warren in the running for VP, she is striking a more harmonious chord.


The shift is the latest public signal Warren has sent Biden’s way in recent weeks that she wants the job of vice president — and wants Biden to see her as a loyal governing partner despite their past clashes, which go back decades.

Warren’s policy-centered, team-player pitch is counting on Biden caring more about Jan. 20 than Nov. 3, when he makes his vice presidential pick. In other words, that the current crisis has elevated governing concerns above political ones — and that the times call for someone with her policy chops and, yes, plans.


Warren is trying to demonstrate her value to a future Biden administration and interest in the job without too explicitly campaigning for it, which could backfire. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a top Warren booster, has been muted on the idea of her being chosen as vice president, instead trying to draw attention to her legislative and policy work surrounding the coronavirus.


Still, Warren’s governing-partner pitch is complicated by her differences on policy with Biden over the years, particularly on domestic economic issues. Her willingness to bash fellow Democrats made some Obama administration officials feel that she was self-servingly sanctimonious.

Some context clear here, when some administration officials said that Warren was, “self-servingly sanctimonious,” they really mean that the don’t like women who are insufficiently deferential to men.

There is a reason that Christine Romer was quoted as saying, “I remember once I told Valerie [Jarrett] that, I said if it weren’t for the President,* this place would be in court for a hostile workplace.”

Warren’s answer on Medicare for All this week, however, is a possible sign of her willingness to align herself with Biden’s positions. Biden has shown a similar flexibility by embracing Warren’s bankruptcy reforms, the subject of many of their clashes in the early 2000s. Biden and his campaign have also shown a new openness to big, progressive proposals to revive the economy.


People close to Biden say that politics and governing will both be factors in his VP decision but that the media coverage overanalyzes how a pick might affect the outcome in one swing state or another, as opposed to his own priorities.


“While people are always gaming out all the angles on who they think can best help the candidate win, I find they tend to underestimate the degree that someone who has been in the White House for eight years and held the job [himself] is going to be thinking about” the decision, he said in an interview.


Taking no chances, Warren has been trying to showcase her potential political upside. She deployed her robust email list to raise money for Biden after she formally endorsed him. “I never had as many [contributors] until she endorsed me,” Biden said in a joint donor call with Warren that the campaign posted online Sunday.

She is not going to get the nod, and she will have sold her soul for some not particularly magical beans.

* As the old saying goes, “A fish rots from the head.”

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