Elizabeth Warren: Lecturer or Explainer?

Is her professorial skill a liability or an asset?

POLITICO’s Michael Kruse has an interesting feature on Democratic contender Elizabeth Warren titled “The Perils of Being Explainer-in-Chief.” While it starts off as the title suggests, with the charge that the former Harvard professor lectures would-be voters and therefore may have a hard time connecting with them, it quickly pivots to treating her ability to break complicated matters down in a way non-experts can understand it as a strength.

The piece is largely anecdotal and defies excerpting. I encourage you to read it and offer your thoughts below. I’ll likely engage in the discussion as well but don’t want to color it early because, as an academic myself, my perspective may be an outlier.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2020, Elizabeth Warren, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Barry says:

    And here it goes – a woman being dogged for sh*t like that, while the Liar in Chief is allowed a free pass.

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  2. Teve says:

    I’ve been a math tutor for ~20 years. It’s not an easy job. Liz Warren wanted to be a special ed teacher and she has great patience and ability to frame otherwise complex information in digestible, unintimidating ways. Combine that with the fact that she’s the best financial expert of all the candidates, and that she’s extremely clear about rampant financial predation on the public, and she’s the best person to be president.

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  3. Teve says:

    @Barry: LOL yeah. “Sure, Donald Trump May Be a Racist Rapist, But Is Elizabeth Warren Maybe A Little Too Didactic?” 😀 😛

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  4. James Joyner says:

    @Barry:

    And here it goes – a woman being dogged for sh*t like that, while the Liar in Chief is allowed a free pass.

    Trump is sui generis. That a given candidate’s flaws pale in comparison to his likely won’t matter in the general election. They certainly don’t in the Democratic primaries.

    Men, including Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, have been dogged for being too lecturing. It’s a charge often leveled at candidates with a wonky tendency. It’s a variant of the “electability” and “relatability” tropes.

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  5. drj says:

    I couldn’t finish the piece.

    Maybe there were some interesting points somewhere in there. But as @Teve pointed out, there is currently a rapist in the White House who was elected (with not even a plurality of the vote) thanks to a highly effective Russian espionage and propaganda campaign.

    And the hard-hitting reporters at Politico want us to worry whether Warren is an elitist pointy head?

    Give me a break.

    This is fiddling while Rome burns.

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  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    A difference between Warren and Obama, is her ability to break down complicated subjects in explanation and then relate them to the lives of real people. She is much more Bill Clinton like in that regard.

    Her audience may realize she’s the smartest person in the room, but they don’t believe that she considers them stupid.

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  7. James Joyner says:

    @drj:

    And the hard-hitting reporters at Politico want us to worry whether Warren is an elitist pointy head?

    Give me a break.

    This is fiddling while Rome burns.

    Barring his death, Trump is the President until noon on 20 January 2021. He’ll be President until noon 20 January 2025 unless the Democrats nominate a candidate who can defeat him. Warren is a serious contender for that nomination. It’s perfectly reasonable to wonder whether she’s going to be able to connect with voters.

    I found the piece quite flattering. But, again, I’m an academic.

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner:

    Men, including Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, have been dogged for being too lecturing.

    I find it interesting that off the top of your head, you couldn’t think of a Republican who was both knowledgeable, capable, and desirous of educating the voting public. 😉

    I have always appreciated EW’s ability to explain complex subjects in such a way that this union carpenter is able to understand it. Maybe that’s because I know my ignorant “common sense” is not superior to an informed pointy headed intellectual’s?

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  9. SenyorDave says:

    It is sad but true that a candidate can come off as too intellectual or professorial. I have seen Warren and she doesn’t seem to me to come off that way, but I spent a career in finance. I do find the prospect of her debating Trump to be something I would look forward to. I think she would demolish him, and not hesitate to call out his bullshit lies. And he definitely has a problem with smart women.

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  10. drj says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m very, very pissed off today. So don’t take this too personally. But here is why I was ranting.

    The Politico piece (and, to a lesser extent, your comment) contributes to the normalization of Trump’s behavior.

    Kruse is implicitly downplaying Trump’s outright criminal and immoral acts: “Well yes, Trump may be a rapist and Russian tool, but Warren is perceived as too lecturing. Is this charge accurate?”

    It reminded me of what Kevin Drum wrote yesterday:

    This [E. Jean Carroll] episode hasn’t gotten an awful lot of attention. […] Why? I don’t think it has anything to do with media outlets not taking rape allegations seriously. The real answer is almost worse: (a) everybody just assumes the story is true and (b) everybody knows that it will have no effect on either Trump’s fans or his Republican Party colleagues. Trump will issue a pro forma denial; nobody will take it seriously; and that will be that. Just like the other 15 times.

    Kruse knows the accusation is almost certainly true. So do you.

    Yet, both of you are discussing the colors of the new curtains while the house is on fire as your kids are sleeping upstairs.

    I don’t know, but somehow this set me off. I’ll shut up now.

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  11. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    Men, including Barack Obama and Bill Clinton

    Al Gore is the ultimate example of this.

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  12. Teve says:

    @SenyorDave:

    I do find the prospect of her debating Trump to be something I would look forward to. I think she would demolish him, and not hesitate to call out his bullshit lies. And he definitely has a problem with smart women.

    Now That’s a contrast I would be happy to see.

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  13. MarkedMan says:

    @SenyorDave:

    I do find the prospect of her debating Trump to be something I would look forward to

    I’m not so sure I agree. In fact, I can’t think of any candidate who I feel can get the job done. Sure, all of them will debate him by making great points that I (and people like me) think are killer. But that’s not what will work here. We need someone who can make Trump look small and weak in the eyes of those that are not normally engaged in politics. We don’t get there by making good points on his energy policy.

    I’m going to give an odd example of the dangers of playing to the base: Hillary Clinton’s Republican opponents when she successfully ran for the Senate. In both cases they repeatedly brought up everything that they and their base detested about Clinton. Their tactics consisted of trying to get the word out that Clinton was just so Clinton-y. But NYers knew her the first time they ran, and they certainly knew her the second time she ran. If they were on the fence they needed something different in order to push them to one side or another. Her opponents framed the standards of judgement: she was shrill, hectoring, a radical feminist, a debauched liberal, a schemer and liar and hypocrite. In order to “give them something different” she just needed to come across as a normal person with a sense of humor, which she did.

    The eventual Democrat can’t make the same mistake. The public has factored in Trumps malignancies. If they define him as an out of control lunatic all he has to do in a debate is maintain his temper for an hour. If he does that he will have proved his opponent wrong in the eyes of the leaners.

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  14. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I find it interesting that off the top of your head, you couldn’t think of a Republican who was both knowledgeable, capable, and desirous of educating the voting public

    At the Presidential level, Democrats have been much more likely to nominate policy wonks (Dukakis, WJ Clinton, Obama, HR Clinton) than Republicans. Reagan was a policy guy known for his skill at explaining things to the general public but he wasn’t a detail guy in the way the Democratic wonks were. HW Bush was a policy wonk and quite capable but he was notoriously bad at bonding with average voters. Ditto, to a lesser extent, Romney.

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  15. James Joyner says:

    @drj:

    Kruse knows the accusation is almost certainly true. So do you.

    Honestly, there have been so many credible accusations against Trump in this vein that I’ve stopped paying attention. I haven’t the foggiest whether this particular allegation is true but I’ve already made up my mind that he’s the type of guy for whom it could be true. (The same was true of Bill Clinton. Despite my political disagreements with them, the same was decidedly not true of Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama; the accusation would have been laughable.)

    Yet, both of you are discussing the colors of the new curtains while the house is on fire as your kids are sleeping upstairs.

    I just don’t think we need to spend every waking minute thinking about Trump. He’s baked in. The question is how we go about replacing him. Impeachment isn’t happening. So, we turn to the next election.

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  16. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    When I worked in Broadcast Journalism, last century, the hardest skill to teach young reporters was to take their 3:00 minute story and make it a more palatable 1:15 – 1:30 long.
    I love Warren, but what makes her great will be a tremendous liability on the debate stage. She will go on about details and facts and Dennison will blow her up with a bumper sticker quote.
    If Dennison says it’s the greatest economy ever, and Warren takes too long to explain why it’s not…all while Dennison is walking around rolling his eyes…she’s just dead. And with her, goes the Republic.
    On the other hand…if she can learn to both attack Dennison, and make her own point in concise segments that put him on the defensive…then she will then be formidable.
    The other thing, IMHO, is to just constantly paint Dennison as the fraud that he is. Constantly. Unrelentingly. Mercilessly.

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  17. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    Reagan was a policy guy known for his skill at explaining things to the general public

    This takes us on a tangent, but I am blown away by this statement. I can see why some say that he spoke plainly and focused on basic values (although instead I think he was perhaps the biggest BSer to hold the office until Trump came along and parroted pieties because he had no real understanding of anything.) But on what basis do you say “Reagan was a policy guy”? There is just no evidence that Reagan understood policy in any meaningful sense. I can understand if you said that Reagan set out the top level agenda based on core values and left the policy to the wonks. But the idea that Reagan himself was a policy guy is beyond absurd.

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  18. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    I haven’t the foggiest whether this particular allegation is true but I’ve already made up my mind that he’s the type of guy for whom it could be true. (The same was true of Bill Clinton.

    Wow. Talk about normalizing Trump…

    Did you seriously intend to say that you think Bill Clinton is just as likely to have forcibly raped someone in a changing room once upon a time as Trump is? That’s certainly what it sounds like.

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  19. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    But on what basis do you say “Reagan was a policy guy”?

    C’mon now…Reagan gave us Trickle-Down Economics which has helped decimate the middle-class for 35 years. Sure, Art Laffer invented it…but Reagan made it republican dogma.

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  20. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan:

    But on what basis do you say “Reagan was a policy guy”? There is just no evidence that Reagan understood policy in any meaningful sense.

    He warned us in the early 60’s that if Medicare passed it would be The End of Freedom and the government would control what job you were allowed to have and so forth.

    For Republicans, that’s called being A Expert! 😛

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  21. Teve says:

    @DrDaveT: When it’s James Joyner and the subject is anything Clinton it’s best to just walk on by.

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  22. James Joyner says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Did you seriously intend to say that you think Bill Clinton is just as likely to have forcibly raped someone in a changing room once upon a time as Trump is?

    This is completely off topic and I don’t want to devote this thread to a rehash of Bill Clinton’s misdeeds. He’s not up for the Democratic nomination again.

    But I think Trump and Clinton are both guys who could get women whenever they wanted but enjoyed exerting power over them. I think Trump is creepier than Clinton but both are/were sleazeballs who were credibly accused of rape and sexual assault.

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  23. al Ameda says:

    I appreciate the fact that Warren is a policy wonk and has a plan for everything, but I also think that that leads to problems in connecting to and energizing voters. In a debate or adversarial interview setting, If you can’t explain your position on ANY issue in about 30 seconds you’re going to lose viewers.

    Now, Warren isn’t the boring stiff that Dukakis was, but neither is she charismatic. I mean, the very progressive base finds her charismatic, I find her overly academic, but with a bit of energy.

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  24. steve says:

    I generally view wonkiness and the ability understand and explain policy as a positive, but I dont think most voters think that way. Most voters dont pay that much attention to politics until it is time to vote. The people who participate on political blogs are outliers. So, I think this will be a moderate negative in the primaries where Democrats have a history of nominating people who understand issues. In the general it will be a bigger negative. People want apolitical who will make them feel good, or give them someone to be angry with and blame for their problems. That isn’t Warren.

    ” I think she would demolish him”

    If it were a boxing match and you were scoring on points, sure. However, Trump will get off one or two lines and those will be remembered and conservatives declare victory. The debates are now pretty useless since each side just declares their person won.

    Steve

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  25. Hal_10000 says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Gore is the natural comparison for Warren. Like Warren, he has a reputation for being brilliant. Like Warren, this reputation is mainly based on repeating progressive talking points back to progressives. Warren is a lot smarter than Gore (and way smarter than Trump) but her solutions to problems always come back to more power and money to the federal govt. She couldn’t even talk about abortion — an issue revolving around personal freedom — without proposing a big govt solution. There are significantly better candidates in the Democratic tent.

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  26. Scott F. says:

    As the article notes, Warren is developing her message to balance the wonkiness by relating it to people’s lives. She’s an excellent communicator – both as a speaker and a listener – so I’m confident she’ll figure that balance out.

    But I agree with @MarkedMan that the candidate who goes against Trump must primarily focus on showing how weak and small he truly is. So, it won’t come down to whether Warren (or any other candidate) explains rather than lectures. It will come down to who will pull out the knives and go hard at Trump’s obvious weaknesses. He boasts of how strong and commanding he is, but he always backs off in the end. He is constantly saying “Believe me” while he lies at a breathtaking scale. He says he knows better than everyone else, but he can’t be bothered to come to understand anything.

    I still think Kamala Harris is best suited on this count. Her “I know how to prosecute predators – let’s look at Trump’s rap sheet” rhetoric in South Carolina last week is a powerful approach if she continues to develop it and she can get her message heard in a crowded field.

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  27. Jay L Gischer says:

    I am very impressed with the late paragraph in the piece which quotes her response to “why should we trust you?” The one that begins, “This is a fight I’ve been in all my life…”

    That is a powerful message. It comes off as very authentic, as her showing us what she really cares about. Which is to say, it works for me. And like you, James, I’m a (former) academic. The fact that these town halls seem to work well for her is a good sign. So maybe her appeal is broader.

    I think the question she needs to answer in the minds of voters is whether she can handle it when someone like Trump, or Kim Jong Il comes at her hard. This is to some extent a gendered question, and that is not remotely fair, but I think it represents the world the way it is today. We need to know the answer to this question for men, too. But we think we already do. Trump seems to be a really tough guy, but he’s kind of a paper tiger.

    Anyway, I would be proud to have her as my president.

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  28. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Scott F.: I’m not certain, but you seem to be saying that you want a candidate to talk 24/7 about how terrible Trump is. That would make you feel better, I think. I don’t think it’s a winning strategy.

    When you attack someone, you are letting them set the agenda. It’s kind of like the thing some teenagers do where they do the opposite of whatever some authority figure tells them and think that this is “independence”. The correlation is 100 percent, just with a minus sign in front of it. This is why this kind of thing works so well for Trump.

    I get the need to make him seem small, but he’ll do that all by himself. You just need to bait him into it, while talking about what you actually want to do to move the country forward.

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  29. Teve says:

    I get the sense that if Hal10000 had been in Eisenhower’s war room he’d be saying, “Oh, sure, buy another hundred Higgins boats for Normandy, I’m sure if you keep throwing taxpayer dollars at Hitler that’ll totally solve it.” and rolling his eyes. 😛

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  30. Scott F. says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I suspect we are looking for the same thing, as I also want someone who can BOTH talk about where they want to take the country and bait Trump into his most revealing bad behaviors. It’s just that I believe I can take as a given that the Democratic candidate will run on their ideas as Dems have historically been quite good at that. On the other hand, Democratic candidates have not been so good in the past at taking it directly at their opponent. For success in 2020 against Trump and the GOP, staying above it all just ain’t gonna work. It would be unilateral disarmament.

    When you attack someone, you are letting them set the agenda.“ is just another political norm that Trump has destroyed. He has done nothing but attack and belittle his opponents and he’s managed to set the agenda by doing so. So, old rules don’t apply. For his supporters, Trump’s super power is his tough guy persona. His kryptonite will be regular doses of public humiliation. He won’t handle that well and it will demoralize the Trumpkins.

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  31. Gustopher says:

    Skipping over our Rapey Racist, and back to Warren…

    If you want to know whether Warren lectures or explains, don’t read an article about her, go watch a townhall or an interview.

    She gets passionate. She cares. She doesn’t come across like a robot, or get stuck in the weeds of details.

    Remember the Obama “you didn’t build that” kerfluffle? That was him badly paraphrasing a Warren comment.

    I’d provide a couple of links to her, but I would probably find my favorite links, and I’d rather people just find some random, representative interview or town hall moment. Something from the past few months. She’s good, and she’s gotten better lately.

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  32. MarkedMan says:

    @Scott F.: Harris definitely has the right idea, but I wouldn’t categorize what she is doing as pulling out the knives, which implies fighting it out on his terms. I don’t think Warren could take the same tack, as she was not a prosecutor. But when you said…

    He is constantly saying “Believe me” while he lies at a breathtaking scale.

    … I think that’s the key to her attack. When he spouts some pseudo-tough or pseudo-businessman nonsense she has to resist listing the twenty ways he is wrong. To the people who are on the fence it’s just going to come out as a debate about esoterica they don’t understand and don’t want to understand. Instead, she should ignore her natural instincts and just laugh, then make some gentle (in the iron hand / velvet glove kind of way) jokes about how “we” all know what it means when Donald Trump says “believe me”. If she can get enough of a laugh from the audience the moderator has to caution them, then she’s won. She can then pivot and say “I’m not going to point out everything that’s wrong with what he said because as we are all too aware he doesn’t really mean any of it and is just as likely to say the opposite tomorrow. So I’ll just say this…”

    If a moderator tries to call her out for being disrespectful she should again resist her natural instincts and instead attack the moderator. “The reason we are in this mess is because the people in your profession would rather get the ratings by parading people like Kellyann Conway or Stephen Miller and avoiding pointing out their lies. Don’t tell me that I have to pretend to believe this nonsense. My responsibility isn’t to your advertisers selling laundry detergent but to the American people.”

    If she belittles Trump, ignores him, treats him as peripheral to the debate, it will drive him absolutely bonkers and there is a real chance he will flip out. If so, she should should again just point out his inability to maintain self control and then, instead of treating him as worthy of engagement she should instead attack the Republicans in Congress who have enabled him and refused to conduct any meaningful oversight. Point out that if there was any hope of a successful presidency it was thrown away by Republicans walking away from their duty because they were too afraid of Trump voters. After all, even people who like Trump knows that he needs people to hold him back sometimes.

    And finally, if she takes this tack there is a real possibility that he will try to physically intimidate her. If he comes at her in a menacing manner she should tell him to back off in no uncertain terms and if he continues to get within range she should kick him in the balls with everything she has.

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  33. MarkedMan says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I think the question she needs to answer in the minds of voters is whether she can handle it when someone like Trump, or Kim Jong Il comes at her hard. This is to some extent a gendered question

    Biden or any other male better not make the mistake of thinking they get a pass because they are male. Rubio and Romney all but wrecked their chances by trying (at the last minute) to fight Trump on his own turf… and then obviously losing. Trump has done this his whole life. This is all he has done. Whoever takes him on better have more sense than those two craven idiots.

    It is a trope of every after school special that a bully will back down if the weak kid just stands up to them on their own turf. This is just moronic. The last thing a bully is going to do when on familiar ground is suddenly capitulate. They, better than anyone else present, knows the consequences if they show weakness.

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  34. Steve V says:

    She’s a terrific speaker. I haven’t seen her lecturing at all. Not surprising the media pushes this angle, though, because it’s what they do.

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  35. Teve says:

    @Steve V: Every day I wake up and find that the sexists haven’t yet started the coordinated campaign to call her voice Shrill I’m amazed. I doubt they’ll hold off forever.

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  36. Scott F. says:

    @MarkedMan: If you’re not already advising Warren’s debate prep team, you should be. Call her campaign today.

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  37. Kylopod says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Gore is the natural comparison for Warren. Like Warren, he has a reputation for being brilliant. Like Warren, this reputation is mainly based on repeating progressive talking points back to progressives.

    Gore was a moderate Democrat from Tennessee and one of the earliest members of the DLC, the centrist organization that helped move the Democratic Party away from its progressive roots in the 1990s under Gore’s boss. He did not run his 2000 campaign as a leftist; ask Ralph Nader. After his (quasi) defeat, he became more popular on the left due to his environmental advocacy and his strong opposition to the Iraq War. But the idea that Candidate Gore was just a bundle of progressive talking points requires amnesia of the highest order.

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  38. Gustopher says:

    @Kylopod: Also, Gore had a stick up his ass, and was never passionate. Not like Warren at all.

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  39. DrDaveT says:

    @MarkedMan:

    It is a trope of every after school special that a bully will back down if the weak kid just stands up to them on their own turf. This is just moronic.

    Off topic, so I’ll take it to the Open Forum if anyone wants to discuss, but… THIS.

    Ever read Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card? The smart weak kid’s perfectly correct analysis of the situation told him that if he ever stood up to the bully, he needed to take him out so hard there was no chance of reprisal.

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  40. Monala says:

    @Gustopher: the sad thing is, he could be passionate, and he showed that side of himself after the election with things like his environmental advocacy. I think he decided to present himself as sober and serious during the 2000 campaign in order to distinguish himself from Bill Clinton, and that was a mistake, because he seemed stiff and boring.

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  41. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher: I’ll never forget Al Gore’s line at the convention, which he used in stump speeches throughout the campaign:

    “If you entrust me with the presidency, I know I won’t always be the most exciting politician. But I pledge to you tonight, I will work for you every day, and I will never let you down.”

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  42. Gustopher says:

    @Monala: Hillary Clinton adopted a “campaign persona” too, and I don’t think it helped her one bit. She ended up letting it slip in her first Senate campaign, when she was doing badly, and I think that genuineness helped her win. Alas, she got “better” at it.

    Warren, Biden, Sanders and Harris all come across as authentic, and I think that’s a large part of what someone is going to need to defeat Trump.

    Trump is also authentic. He’s a liar, but he’s a very authentic liar.

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  43. Hal_10000 says:

    @Kylopod:

    Al Gore was most famous, at the time he entered the national scene, for his book “Earth in the Balance” with presented no original research and no original solutions. It just concatenated every environmental panic of the previous 20 years and every big-government solution to them. Before then, he wanted central control of the economy because otherwise we would never be able to compete with Japan. Gore was always a pseudo-intellectual, someone who’d memorized a bunch of big words and sounded smart until you dug into what he was actually saying.

    Warren isn’t that bad. She actually understands some of this stuff. But her big plans have tendency to fall apart the second you invest any thought into them. And like Gore, she see the federal government as the solution to literally every problem in the country. If someone at a Warren rally let out a fart, she’d have a plan for it.

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  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jay L Gischer: What Democrats need is about 150-200,000 additional Democratic voters (because I like large margins of error) in WI, MI, and PA. It’s reasonable to assume that the vote will look similar to 2016 given Trump’s overall mediocrity among voters at large but strength in his own party (which some people in this thread seem to be desperate to find a road back to). With that as the situation it may be wisest to assume that there are no “swing” voters per se, that the electorate is fairly galvanized in its opinions. With the economy what it is, the election is currently Trump’s to lose, but the key there may not be showing what Trump is–the people already know that he’s a disaster; they simply don’t care. So the win comes from getting Democrats to the polls where the party shouldn’t have lost in the first place. That’s job one. I dunno who that candidate is, but trying to make Trump the focus of the game is a fool’s errand.

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  45. DrDaveT says:

    @Hal_10000:

    And like Gore, she see the federal government as the solution to literally every problem in the country.

    I’d be interested to see your list of major problems facing America for which the federal government is not an essential part of the solution.

    You may not have noticed it, but you have a tendency to treat “federal government program wrong” as an axiom in your comments, rather than arguing for that position case by case. This makes it easy for people to dismiss your positions as libertarian tripe, even when you have a real argument to base them on.

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  46. Gustopher says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Al Gore was most famous, at the time he entered the national scene, for his book “Earth in the Balance” with presented no original research and no original solutions. It just concatenated every environmental panic of the previous 20 years and every big-government solution to them.

    Um… do you really expect your President to do original research? They rely on experts, and pick among solutions, tailoring them to what they can get passed.

    Also, now I want to read “Earth In The Balance” to see how optimistic it was. Half of the carbon humanity put into the atmosphere is after that book, by the way.

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  47. Gustopher says:

    @DrDaveT:

    You [Hal 10000] may not have noticed it, but you have a tendency to treat “federal government program wrong” as an axiom in your comments, rather than arguing for that position case by case. This makes it easy for people to dismiss your positions as libertarian tripe, even when you have a real argument to base them on.

    How do libertarians deal with issues that ultimately are the tragedy of the commons?

    You cannot sell of chunks of the atmosphere and have them be independent of one another, and rely on private ownership of atmosphere chunks to protect us from pollution, for instance…

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  48. Jay L Gischer says:

    @MarkedMan: I’m really liking your scenario and it speaks to what I’m talking about. Calling out Trump on all his lies, in a debate format, just doesn’t work.

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  49. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “How do libertarians deal with issues that ultimately are the tragedy of the commons?”

    From what I’ve seen, their answer is “make hay while the sunshines.”

    About the article, it struck me that the final few paragraphs were added as an afterthought. The article was a profile of an extremely gifted and charismatic professor. The notion that Harvard Law graduate student are “middle class” in any sense other than “the post-destruction of the middle class” sense struck me a quaint. The comparison of the speech to the smaller groups across the street was yet another example of “the plural of anectdote is data” thinking that we’re going to be seeing a lot of in the time to come. The profile was interesting, the commercial for right wing talking points that followed–meh, not so much.

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  50. DrDaveT says:

    @Gustopher:

    How do libertarians deal with issues that ultimately are the tragedy of the commons?

    I will spare you my snarky answer, and let some actual libertarians answer instead:

    1. By oversimplifying and proposing private ownership of the common resource

    2. Deplete the resource and move on

    3. Peer pressure. (That one won a pseudo-Nobel Prize.)

    4. Pigovian taxes.

    That last one isn’t actually compatible with Libertarian principles, as best I can tell, but it’s the most tolerable to a Libertarian of all the things that might actually work for (e.g.) global warming.

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  51. DrDaveT says:

    @Gustopher:

    How do libertarians deal with issues that ultimately are the tragedy of the commons?

    My reply is in moderation, due to excessive linkage. Moderators? Help?

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  52. wr says:

    @Hal_10000: “It just concatenated every environmental panic of the previous 20 years and every big-government solution to them.”

    Boy, it’s a good thing he was wrong and you were right and there are absolutely no problems with the environment after we’ve decided to erase every restriction on abusing it. You good “conservatives” sure showed us!

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  53. wr says:

    @Hal_10000: “. But her big plans have tendency to fall apart the second you invest any thought into them.”

    Yes. If by “invest any thought into them” you mean “apply every right-wing assumption that has proven wrong time and again over the last forty years.”

    Oh wait — tax cuts all pay for themselves and trees cause air pollution, right?

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  54. wr says:

    @Gustopher: “How do libertarians deal with issues that ultimately are the tragedy of the commons?”

    Simple: “I got mine. Fuck you.”

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  55. Gustopher says:

    @wr:

    @Hal_10000: “. But her big plans have tendency to fall apart the second you invest any thought into them.”

    Yes. If by “invest any thought into them” you mean “apply every right-wing assumption that has proven wrong time and again over the last forty years.”

    I’m a huge Warren fanboy. Her pay-off-every-college-loan idea just isn’t there. It doesn’t solve the underlying problems, it just shifts costs and creates a group of disgruntled people.

    9 times out of 10, she’s pretty close to spot on, but this one is a stinker by most any analysis.

    I don’t object to paying off existing loans if it we have a plan going forward to control costs. There are fairness issues, and I expect some people will want to ensure that beneficiaries of such a plan have to pay a pound of flesh. I’d argue for 4oz of flesh. But, we need a bigger, better plan to open up access to the middle class and control costs.

    But, this plan doesn’t do that.

    I would also want someone to ask her whether this comes before or after health care. Same with the environmental stuff. There is limited time on congressional calendars, and limited political capital.

    I suspect it is mostly just meant to start a conversation, and tee up an issue for 2024.

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  56. Matt says:

    @Hal_10000: What amazes me about you is how sometimes you will shut your brain down and revert to “GOVERNMENT BAD!!!” mode. One thread you’re giving us an excellent point of view from an angle not being represented (and making us better for it). Then a thread like this pops up and you just shut your brain off and start spewing the same tired almost nonsensical talking points where everything government is always bad.

    Seriously calling warren a pretender that can’t debate policy because she’s too stupid/ignorant is just a Trumpian level of stupidity. While saying Al Gore was a progressive in the 90s… It’s laughable.

    Bill Clinton and Al gore with their centrist bullshit was infuriating as hell to the real Lefties/progressives in that era.

    EDIT : I really do like you being here and I hope you’re willing to defend some of your accusations. As I stated earlier I think we’re better off with your presence and words. I just can’t fathom how someone with your mental capability could make those claims in this thread.

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  57. jim brown 32 says:

    Warren has no swag factor beyond white liberal circles. She will depress turnout amongst minority men and especially african american men who voted from Trump at a 2-1 clip over what they voted for Bush Jr.

    I get it–she’s passionate to white liberals. But here meme about being a “fighter” isn’t believable to people that actually have to fight to survive day to day. There’s a disconnect between her personally and what she projects.

    Now Kamala Harris has the opposite problem. If you could combine the two–you might have Mrs President. Harris could believably walk into a bar and ask a gawking guy what the “f#^%” he was looking at.

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  58. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DrDaveT: From another link down your second point:

    Elinor Ostrom’s work concerned the development of socially enforced regulations of behavior. There is no single organization like a government that has authority over a resource, thus there is no one to be bribed and no single decision maker to make an ignorant ruling. Rather a set of social rules are generally understood among people who use the resource and horizontal enforcement is organized.

    Wait! Doing this is what causes the tragedy in the first place. This must be why you called it a “pseudo solution.”

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  59. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Matt: In fairness to Hal and to understand how he can go from intelligent comment to reflexive nonsense you have to understand how faith works. (And it isn’t just something for Evangelical Christian bigots. Everyone has some in something.)

    For faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

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  60. DrDaveT says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Wait! Doing this is what causes the tragedy in the first place.

    Not quite. She’s talking about voluntary compliance with community-agreed restrictions on use of the resource, enforced by social pressure. It only works small-scale, where the users of the resource are members of the same community and social caste, so that peer pressure is actually effective. It does not and cannot work if the resource users (or polluters) are too numerous to reach consensus, or not part of the same social network, or if a small number of abusers can ruin the resource, or if the temporal distance between use of the resource and eventual catastrophe is large enough that community members discount it away.

    I called it a pseudo-Nobel Prize because the prize in Economics is technically not a Nobel Prize. It was invented later.

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  61. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    @jim brown 32:

    She will depress turnout amongst minority men and especially african american men who voted from Trump at a 2-1 clip over what they voted for Bush Jr.

    You make this sound like it’s a bad thing. As much as I dislike voter suppression, I’m having trouble empathizing with the possibility of Trump voters (of any race, creed, or ethnicity) self-selecting disenfranchisement as a problem. I realize I’m wrong on this, just sayin’.

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  62. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    It only works small-scale, where the users of the resource are members of the same community and social caste, so that peer pressure is actually effective.

    Personally, I would be more inclined to hold that we like to believe that it works on the small scale more than that it actually does. But doesn’t that feature reinforce that as a solution or a policy, it’s a non-starter. Village of 30 or so people? Fine (and expect to see exile as the penalty). Village of 100? May start to see enforcement problems. Village of 1000? Fugettaboudit. And we aren’t even at serious numbers of people yet.

    But maybe I’m too cynical.

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  63. Tyrell says:

    Senator Warren reminds me more of a seventh grade language arts teacher. The kind that uses a red pen on everything. Frightenly strict, yet very learned and gets the most out of her students.
    Now that nails on chalkboard thing is the worst. Every time I hear her, that comes to mind.

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  64. wr says:

    @jim brown 32: It’s amazing how every black man in America shares your opinion on everything.

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  65. jim brown 32 says:

    @wr: When have I ever said I speak for every black man genius? That’s mighty white of you–buzz off

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  66. Tyrell says:

    @jim brown 32: #32: my favorite NFL player. Those were the days when the Browns had football teams. Brown did not dance and show off after a touchdown. He did not have to. He is also a decent actor.

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  67. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: In the past, you seem to have had the same problem with Pelosi and Hillary. Wazzup wi dat? You got issues with capable women?

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  68. wr says:

    @jim brown 32: “When have I ever said I speak for every black man genius? That’s mighty white of you–buzz off”

    Let’s see… in just one message:

    “Warren has no swag factor beyond white liberal circles. She will depress turnout amongst minority men and especially african american men who voted from Trump at a 2-1 clip over what they voted for Bush Jr.”

    “I get it–she’s passionate to white liberals. But here meme about being a “fighter” isn’t believable to people that actually have to fight to survive day to day.”

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  69. DrDaveT says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Personally, I would be more inclined to hold that we like to believe that it works on the small scale more than that it actually does.

    This is not even close to my area of expertise, but my understanding is that she did demonstrate multiple practical successful applications (e.g. in lobster fisheries, and irrigation water rights). Indeed, she is credited with having originated the quip “a resource arrangement that works in practice can work in theory”.

    I have nothing against this work; I just think it’s important to recognize that it only solves the easiest cases.

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