And now she’s part of the camp of progressives interested in the Left’s newly invigorated focus on populist economic policy. When I asked what she thought of the Elizabeth Warren mold — especially in contrast to Hillary Clinton’s political trajectory — she laughed.
“What do you think I think?” she asks. “Love it!”
She adds that she places herself squarely in the Warren camp of the progressive movement: claiming victory on social issues, at least in the long term, and prioritizing policy solutions to economic inequality. “I’d be like a camp counselor in her camp,” she says.
So it’s not surprising that she’s not a participant in the emerging Hillary hype. Obama was Clinton 2.0, she says, citing his choices for Treasury secretary and chief of staff. “Do we want Clinton 3.0?” she asks. “Those of us on the left would say no.”
“I do not look at the current crop of figures in the Democratic party and get tingles running down my spine,” she continues. “The modern Democratic party does not seem to be something that creates the space for progressive populist ideas.”
While the conservative movement allows diversity and has a wide ideological spectrum, the institutional Left, she believes, has become increasingly centrist, partisan, and corporate.
“You have very vocal, very vibrant, well-funded, visible parts of the Right that basically want to abolish government altogether — Kevin!” she says, laughing, referring to National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson. “You don’t have that extreme equivalent on the Left.”
And that’s a bad thing, in her view. There aren’t progressive equivalents of FreedomWorks and Heritage Action to push the Democratic party’s agenda. And although she wouldn’t necessarily associate with their leftist equivalents, she thinks their existence would be healthy.
That’s a bit of the background she’ll bring to CNN: frustration with the president, frustration with the institutional Left, frustration with the Clinton machine, and, yet, enough affability to still get along with Sean Hannity.
“You can rise a lot faster in this business if you say really nasty, asinine things about your political opponents,” she says. “Oh well.”
— Betsy Woodruff is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.