The Dogpiling of Elizabeth Warren, Cont'd

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 26 2011 3:59 PM

The Dogpiling of Elizabeth Warren, Cont'd

The Daily Beast knows what gets traffic. In a smart interview with Elizabeth Warren, Sam Jacobs got the Senate candidate to muse about the connection between her and Occupy Wall Street.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

“I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do,” she says. “I support what they do.”
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The headline for that item: "Warren Takes Credit for Occupy Wall Street." The title for inbound links is "Elizabeth Warren: 'I Created Occupy Wall Street,'" which isn't actually a quote. Credit to Jacobs: He got Warren to brag about her role inspiring movement that really does view her as a hero, one of the only honest people in politics. (It'd be tough to argue that she didn't create much of the intellectual foundation for the movement, but maybe she shouldn't say so.) Less credit goes out to the folks packaging and scandalizing the quote. The Boston Globe listened in to an interview Gov. Deval Patrick gave to 96.9 FM, and reported it this way: "Patrick takes backhanded slap at Warren over Occupy Wall Street comments."

Governor Deval Patrick said this morning that “I don’t have that level of self-confidence” to claim he laid the “intellectual foundation” for a movement, or anything else, as Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren said this week about Occupy Wall Street.
Patrick, on the monthly Ask the Governor with Jim and Margery radio show, said “There’s no one source” for the movement, “and I don’t think this is what she was saying.”

What did he actually say? Helpfully, the Jim & Margery podcast is up, with the full tape. First, Jim asks the question.

PATRICK: I mean, she's a candidate, I wish her well. No, a more serious point. There's no one source -- and I don't think this is what she was saying, by the way, but you can ask her -- there's no one source for the sensibilities, feelings, that are being expressed at Occupy Boston or the other ones. But there is a common discontent. There is a feeling that the economy isn't working for regular people, that folks are being squeezed. It is unemployment, but there's just not unemployment.
MARGEREY: College loans?
PATRICK: Right! There are people who are working who are worried they're going to lose the jobs they have now. There's a sense of unease about the ability of American institutions, whether they are markets or government or not-for-profits to recreate the sense of community, and we ought to pay attention.

This goes on for a while, but Jim wants another crack at it.

JIM: "I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do." Would you ever say anything like that about anything?
PATRICK: Well, I don't have that level of self-confidence. Look, there are a lot of people, including people from the Tea Party, if we can use that as a right-leaning extreme, there are a lot of folks in the Tea Party, too, who are expressing unease about the economy and about our future, and in some ways they have that in common.

The context: The GOP is trying to link Warren to every Occupy-connected jerk who throws something at a cop. Patrick isn't "backhanding" her. He's bailing her out by refusing to connect her directly to the movement with jokes, then basically agreeing with her critique of the economic scene.

Will that matter? Oh, of course not. Just like the last Warren hit -- she joked about the GOP's characterization of her as a hick -- this one's rewarded with a Politico item that explains how the hit can work. Step one: Take the shot. Step two: Expect the media to repeat it for you.

UPDATE: Sam Jacobs actually posted the entire exchange about Occupy Wall Street. I've bolded the parts I want to emphasize.

JACOBS: I’m curious: Is there something that is keeping you away from this movement? Is there a reason why you haven’t embraced it?

WARREN: Look, everybody has to follow the law. That’s the starting point. I’ve been fighting this fight for years and years now. As I see it, this is about two central points: one, this is about the lack of accountability. That Wall Street has not been held accountable for how they broke the economy. The second is a values question, a fundamental fairness around the way that markets have been distorted and families have been hurt. I’m still fighting that fight. I’m just fighting it from this angle. I’m fighting it from … I want to fight it from the floor of the United States Senate. I think that is a place to make this difference.
JACOBS: Is showing solidarity with them going to get in the way of that?
WARREN: It’s not a question of solidarity. I just don’t think that’s the right way to say it. I support what they do. I want to say this in a way that doesn’t sound puffy. I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do. That’s the right thing. There has to be multiple ways for people to get involved and take back our country. The fight that I’m fighting now is one that is directed towards the United State Senate. That’s just how I see it.

So she says, flat-out, that protesters "have to follow the law." And she admits that her point about the intellectual foundation might sound puffy. Keep this in mind as you read the attack on her points.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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