Magazine | October 14, 2019, Issue

Elizabeth Warren, Cherokee from Outer Space

(Roman Genn)
Conservative; liberal; white; Cherokee; Harvard prof; tribune of the people; possibly extraterrestrial

‘Fauxcahontas” and “Lie-awatha” are serviceable enough as one-word descriptors for Elizabeth Warren. But her decades-long phony insistence on Cherokee identity, which is to identity politics what stolen valor is to military service, is just part of her oleaginous, changeling habit of cycling through one persona after another. She’s Chief Spitting Bull, the lady with a J.D. in B.S.

Whether she’s claiming her white parents had to elope because of racism or, five years after the matter was litigated, falsely asserting that Michael Brown “was murdered” in Ferguson, Mo., or stating she was the “first nursing mother to take a bar exam in the state of New Jersey,” as though anyone kept tabs on such strange details (“Excuse me, madam, are you lactating at the moment? I’m making a record book”), Elizabeth Warren is always ready with a load of bull. Warren will say whatever is convenient for her ambitions of the moment. “I am not running for president of the United States,” Senator Warren said last March on Meet the Press. “I am running for the United States Senate in 2018 in Massachusetts.” The month after she was reelected she announced she was forming an exploratory committee to mull a presidential run.

And note the false, strained way she did get in the presidential race, in that infamous video. She starts recording. Then — hello, soon-to-be-conquered Earth people, I understand you like brewed malt beverages on this planet — she immediately takes a break to get a beer. Her programmers in the Nebula 235X star system have told her that ordinary Earthfolk are intimidated by proper grammar, so she phrases this entirely natural and spontaneous decision like this: “Hold on a sec, I’m gonna get me, uh, a beer.” Then she follows up with this classic: “Hey! My husband Bruce is now in here!” Her husband was in her house? Where does she normally keep him, in the shed with the lawnmower? Warren isn’t just phony, she’s creepy and alien and able to change form to play on your nightmares: She’s It of the Charles. Occasionally she lets the mask slip, as when, in Greenwich Village, she positioned herself as the candidate opposed to half the population. “We’re not here today because of famous arches or famous men,” she said. “In fact, we’re not here because of men at all.” Huh? Warren must be the first candidate in history to think that winning the working class means deriding the sex that does most of the grunt labor in this country. Should she make it to the general election, and advisers somberly inform her that she is losing the men’s vote by 97 points and that all of her male supporters wear Capris and live in Brooklyn, I wonder what her Dukakis-in-a-tank response will be. My guess is it’ll involve a misbegotten attempt to imbibe tequila during a show at Bada Bing’s, where she somehow mispronounces the word “bro.” Someone will ask who her favorite member of the New England Patriots is and she’ll say something like “Eli Kaepernick.” 

Alien programmers who misunderstand Earth energy have instructed her to give her rallies a “deli scene from When Harry Met Sally” vibe, which plays a bit strangely in a septuagenarian Harvard Law professor. “The candidate,” noted The New Yorker, “may take the stage at a run; at intervals during her speech, she will clench a fist, thrust it skyward, and cry out, ‘Yes!’” Amid the self-celebration, she claims pernicious forces fought her at every step. “People told me you can’t win,” she recalled at a town hall in Council Bluffs, Iowa. “And you can’t win because Massachusetts is not going to elect a woman to the Senate or the governor’s office.” As with New Jersey’s record-keeping about nursing moms taking the bar exam, I suspect proof of this statement will prove elusive to locate. I had to rise above all those nasty retrograde misogynistic troglodytes of er, Massachusetts . . .

Warren is a proud representative of an industry that is to B.S. what France is to wine. She comes from a world — academia — where stealing a paragraph of boilerplate is a career-ending crime but stealing an identity from historically oppressed people is merely a canny way to play the angles. Not that she isn’t also guilty of plagiarism — recall that she copied a recipe from the New York Times news service for a 1984 cookbook called “Pow Wow Chow” and signed it as “Elizabeth Warren — Cherokee.” That a woman who is so white she is practically fluorescent would claim to be of color was the logical endpoint of a career spent trying on various identities. 

Even her surname is merely an identity she picked up along the way; her maiden name is “Herring” and her current husband’s name is “Mann.” Jim Warren is the man she was married to in the Seventies. She married Bruce Mann six months after their divorce came through and, typically, lied about this. “I was a single mom with two little kids, and I’d just started teaching law in Houston,” she said in a 2015 Facebook post. “And then I met a guy from Massachusetts named Bruce. I was completely crazy about him, and I still am. When I proposed to him, he said yes.” She may have felt like a single mom just as she may have felt Cherokee, but the facts are otherwise. She was still married to Jim Warren and had not yet filed for divorce. She and Jim more or less invented conscious uncoupling, wafting gently away from each other without so much as a cross word. She later said, “We never really fought and never really had hard words; it just didn’t work.” Jim Warren won’t be offering his version of events, as he died in 2003. In her early days with Mann, he lived in St. Louis while she was teaching in Texas, which looks like very early foreshadowing of how close American men in general are going to want to get to her. Warren describes him as “my sweetie.” “I found my sweetie,” she told Politico and, in another instance of failed programming by her alien masters from a distant galaxy, added, “That should be a good country-western song don’t you think? ‘I Found My Sweetie at Law and Economics Camp.’” Warren’s efforts to seem like a normal Earthling come across like C-3PO trying to convince us he’s chill.

During her early years in law, Warren was a deregulator’s dream girl, a shameless shill for big business, practically an NR columnist. The Warren of 1980 struck a Thatcherite tone. A stirring paper she wrote that year on utility regulation has proved enduring (it was cited approvingly as recently as 2006, by the Texas Court of Appeals). She derided consumer advocates for making “fallacious” arguments based on “unscrutinized . . . conventional wisdom.” In Politico one expert called it “such a pro-utility paper” that “it’s, like, awesome. If you’re a utility, you love that thing.” Rarely is she questioned on such youthful and even middle-aged-ful indiscretions, but when Politico asked her about them she offered this word salad: “I followed theory and tried my hand at what all academics did then in our field, and that was theory. I pretty quickly discovered not only that the theory was wrong, but it was deeply misleading.” 

Well, it wasn’t so quick as all that. Friends say she was a “diehard conservative” for many years and she concedes that she was a registered Republican for most of her life. She didn’t register as a Democrat until, perhaps, 1996, when she was 47. As late as 2003 she was rejecting a “quasi-socialist safety net to rival the European model” in her book The Two-Income Trap. That was in her Aughties guise as a Suze Orman wannabe. Her other book from the period, All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan, advised readers to spend within their means, creating a 50-30-20 template: 50 percent of disposable income for needs, 30 percent for wants, 20 percent for savings. 

These days she is advising people not to live within their means at all and blaming their debts on a conspiracy theory about how government and plutocrats are cheating us. “These aren’t cracks that families are falling into, they’re traps,” she says in a campaign video. “America’s middle class is under attack. How did we get here? Billionaires and big corporations decided they wanted more of the pie. And they enlisted politicians to cut ’em a fatter slice.” It’s the old Democratic-party story — be angry about your tax cuts because rich people have also gotten tax cuts, never mind the tax increases that might accompany $32 trillion of Medicare for All spending. By way of funding, Ms. “I Have a Plan”™ mentions only a few taxes on the rich that might yield $3 trillion or so. This reminds me of my plan for dating Nicole Kidman: First, I’m going to find out where she lives. Second, I’m going to go to her house. Third, hey, I’m a wonk, I won’t bore you with the details, but I have a plan. Also, I’m not Donald Trump, did I mention that? (Bows for applause.)

Less than a year ago Warren, heeding typically bizarre advice from Nebula 235X, said “I think I’ll take me a DNA test.” This demonstrated that her ancestry was between 1/64th and 1/1024th Indian. That’s at most 1.6 percent. So Elizabeth Warren is at least 98.4 percent not Cherokee. She claims she never used this lie to her advantage, but that’s preposterous. Harvard Law School certainly didn’t look at her polar-ice-cap coloring and think, “Ah, there’s the woman of color we need!” Nor does Harvard Law School often hire graduates of the Rutgers University–Newark law school. We know that she claimed to be American Indian as far back as that 1984 cookbook and her 1986 Texas bar license, and that Harvard Law School boasted that she was the first woman of color on its faculty. How was Harvard supposed to have gotten this information if not from Elizabeth “Pow Wow Chow” Warren? Warren not only stole her identity from the Cherokee but did so from the brazen position of someone who is really exceptionally white. I suppose that means her life story is just a white lie. 

This article appears as “The Cherokee from Outer Space” in the October 14, 2019, print edition of National Review.

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