Last week, there was a big huge liberal orgasm that left its trails all over the Internet when news broke that some of the nation's largest banks have privately discussed - but decided on no coordinated action - to withhold support from Senate Democrats because they are irked by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren's demand to break them up.
Yeah, that was kind of a dick move, but as Reuters points out, with any bank as an institution only able to give $15,000, it wasn't exactly the earth-shattering battle royale many among the ideological Left made it out to be. Warren of course quickly used the opportunity to send out campaign emails to raise mo' money.
I think it's fair to say that Elizabeth Warren is well on her way to becoming - if she isn't already - a liberal firebrand. But so far as someone who is no longer just a freshman in the Senate, Elizabeth Warren has accomplished little more than finger-wagging and yelling at the banks as a legislator.
Not that banks don't deserve to be yelled at. They will get no sympathy here. While I'm often amused by the ideological Left's fist-waving at the President and the Attorney General for not frogmarching bankers down Wall Street in shackles and cuffs to the court house, these banks pulled every trick in the book they could to collapse the system, though mostly legally (as discussed below), and I have no problem with them getting some tongue-lashing in front of a Congressional committee. If that hurts their feeling, well, they can all go perform a superbly difficult sexual act.
But as a Senator, Warren has the opportunity to be someone who isn't content with simply yelling at banks and sending out self-congratulatory fundraising appeals at the banks' reactions. She has the opportunity to actually do something about the problem she has been lecturing the bank executives on.
And yet, do you know how many bills she has sponsored in this Congress to tighten banking regulations at the time of this writing? None. That's right, ZERO. Nor has she co-sponsored a single bill in the current Congress directly affecting the how banks are regulated.
Congratulating the New England Patriots for winning the Super Bowl though, was front and center on her agenda.
If anyone has ever wondered what the difference is between a firebrand and a leader, the above list should speak volumes. Warren seems too busy being a firebrand to even propose a single piece of legislation on the very issue on which she seeks the mantle of super-advocate.
That is to say nothing about actually passing legislation, which some might still hold onto the quaint idea is her actual job as a legislator.
When Ted Cruz was asked what he'd done in his years in the Senate, he replied that he "stopped bad things from happening", which made the rounds around the Internet quickly, and we all had a good laugh at the absurdity of the answer, which was taken as an admission that he had done nothing productive.
Yet if you ask Elizabeth Warren the same question, will her honest answer be all that different?
Let's be clear. Elizabeth Warren is not Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz is Tea Party stupid personified. Warren is a much sharper knife in the drawer, and when it comes to issue positions, Warren and Cruz couldn't be more different. Which is why it should bother intelligent liberals that her answer to the question of what she had actually accomplished in the Senate could be identical to Ted Cruz's.
But didn't she provide oversight for the Treasury's implementation of the Financial Rescue? Why yes, she did. Didn't she do the gruntwork in setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was her brainchild to begin with? Also true.
So can't it be said she'd accomplished a great deal? Yes... But not as a Senator. In other words, to be crass about it, she'd made next to no real accomplishments in her time in government when Barack Obama wasn't holding her hand.
After all, by this time in his career in the US Senate, a major nuclear nonproliferation law already bore Senator Obama's name - in a Republican controlled Senate no less along with a Republican president(Obama's work on nuclear nonproliferation as a relatively new legislator in Washington was cited in his Nobel commendation).
So for those trying to compare the former law professor whose political career was launched by the same man who asked Barack Obama to run for President (thank you for your service, Sen. Reid), and who was catapulted to the forefront by President Obama in first ensuring the formation then implementing the CFPB to the current president, the question of why she has been too busy talking to actually do anything about what she's been talking about is an important one.
So why is that? Is it because she is incapable of it? That's preposterous. Elizabeth Warren can achieve an enormous amount if she wants to. Then what is it?
I believe the answer lies in the title of this article. One of my fellow TPV contributors said in the comment section last week that Warren was blined by her beliefs, to which I responded that it isn't her beliefs that are blinding her, it's her celebrity.
She always tickled the Internet far-Leftists' ideological fancy, but she couldn't be given too much credit while she was part of the Obama administration or some of that might transfer to the president at the top, but since she ran for and became a Senator, the ideologues' adulation - based, as we see, not much more than what she says - began to become a bubble unto itself. Headlines like "Elizabeth Warren EVISCERATES the banks" and "Elizabeth Warren TAKES ON Obama DOJ for not prosecuting bankers" basically took over the Lefty blogosphere.
They wanted her to give them the pony Barack Obama would not, or at least podium-pound about said pony. Where in President Obama the Left's loudest moaners saw betrayal (because, you know, Obama would compromise to get things done rather than blow it all up and get nothing), in Warren they fancied deliverance.
Warren seems to have obliged. Ironically though, she and the Professional Left have adopted a key right wing position on the financial crisis: that criminal acts, rather than deregulation, caused the collapse of 2008. Before you take umbrage at me accusing the great hero Warren of backing the right wing theory that deregulation was not the culprit in the collapse, consider this: If one agrees that deregulation was the main culprit, it would require a focus on re-regulation (which is what President Obama did with Dodd-Frank), rather than criminal prosecution.
If you accept the opposite theory that it was criminal acts and not deregulation - which, inconvenient as the truth may be, made most of the banks' reprehensible actions legal - then it makes sense for the focus to be on criminal prosecution. The only difference between the Left and the Right here would be who they think the criminals are: the Left would argue it's the banks and the Right would want to put poor people who got sold liar loans in jail.
That's a pretty significant difference, you might say, and it is. But it doesn't change the fact that demanding a focus on criminal prosecution (while sponsoring zero legislation to strengthen regulation) requires one to accept the premise that it was unlawful acts rather than the legal deregulation itself that was the main culprit for the financial crash of six and a half years ago.
That someone as brilliant as Warren wouldn't catch onto this simple truth could only happen one of two ways: she is selling her new fans a bill of goods, or more likely, the fame has gone to her head. So much so that she was caught flat out lying and fearmongering about the Trans-Pacific partnership. She is now engaged in cultivating and growing the euphoria surrounding her as her primary objective and being an actual legislator as a secondary side job.
But that euphoria will only take her so far. If she plans on being anything more than a Massachusetts liberal and a lightening rod, she is going to have to piss off some fans. The Late Ted Kennedy, who once held the seat in the Senate that is now filled by Warren, was also a firebrand. But he was also a legislator who got things done when his party was in majority and when his party was in the minority. There is perhaps no better example of a galvanizing political orator in our time than our current president. But he too was never content to just bring crowds to their feet - he set out to make America a better place and he did.
There is nothing wrong with celebrity, so long as it is channeled to produce actual results. That is particularly important when it comes to political celebrities. There's a time for barn-raising, and there's a time for putting the house in order. The job of a legislator is to put the house in order.
Celebrity is a means to an end; it is not the end in itself. Those who see it as an end in itself may be contemporary agitators, but in the pages of history they quickly become irrelevant footnotes, if that. Elizabeth Warren, if she doesn't begin to be a legislator - that means compromising and passing things - is headed that way.