Identity Politics Didn't Work for Warren, Either

By Froma Harrop

March 10, 2020 5 min read

Was being a woman Elizabeth Warren's problem? That's the wrong question. Here's a better question: Was playing the protector of all damsels from that infamous rake, Mike Bloomberg, her problem? It was one of them, for certain.

Look what's happening in the world. Warren was a candidate of ideas with a strong understanding of the financial system. Her candidacy could have thrived in today's chaos. But she threw her advantages away to work the inquisitional end of the #MeToo movement.

We saw it unfold. In early February, the former New York City mayor was surging in the polls, and Warren was sliding. So she used the Nevada debate to go right for the billionaire's throat in a blatantly opportunistic manner. With scant evidence, she accused Bloomberg of a multitude of depredations against women.

For her trouble, Warren placed fourth in the Nevada caucuses, winning zero delegates. Last week, she left the race.

Yes, Bloomberg is believed to have engaged in bawdy talk and some ungentlemanly comments. This happened in the past and in the rowdy culture of New York finance. And verbal remarks were the entire rap.

Warren strongly implied far greater crimes. She spoke of the "drip, drip, drip of stories" in which women were pressed — "dozens, who knows" — to sign nondisclosure agreements involving harassment or discrimination in the workplace.

It would appear that the NDAs numbered only three. This was over several decades in a vast company that employs about 20,000 people. In his defense, Bloomberg pointed out that 40 percent of his commissioners were women as was his deputy mayor — to little avail.

Most of the political punditry declared Warren winner of the debate. "Warren dominated the night," a reporter for Politico opined. "Progressive activists said this was the Warren they knew and loved."

A political writer for Vox enthused, "Warren dominated the stage, delivering striking answers in one of the best performances I've seen from a presidential candidate — not just in this cycle, but ever." He went on: "She got Bloomberg to say that 'none of (the women) accuse me of doing anything other than maybe they didn't like a joke I told' — which is practically admitting on national television that he created a hostile workplace for women."

Oh, what frail creatures these New York women are.

A Politico headline after she dropped out read, "'White men get to be the default': Women lament Warren's demise."

If I recall correctly, a black man was recently elected president and for two terms. And a woman was the Democrats' last nominee for president. She also got around 3 million more votes than the man who won only through the Electoral College. Hillary Clinton did herself few favors in her constant appeals to identity.

Suggestion for female candidates and their surrogates: Kindly drop your cutesy references to "little girls." The yucky assumption is that little girls will fold up their ambitions if a member of their gender doesn't become president this time around.

On her way out, Warren remarked, "One of the hardest parts of all of this is all those pinky promises, and all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years." I don't have the stomach to explain pinky promises.

Amy Klobuchar did not succumb to making unfair denunciations of male opponents for being mean to women. She left the race with a reputation for serious thought and her dignity intact. She immediately helped Joe Biden win the Minnesota primary, only cementing her future on the national stage.

Let this be a lesson for candidates rousing group resentment with phony claims. Identity politics have been the graveyard of numerous candidacies. We are talking to you, Democrats.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at [email protected] To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

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