Is America ready for two serious-minded, pants-wearing women in their 60s who believe issues can unify Democrats and defeat Donald Trump?
Ageism and sexism are, of course, embedded into such a question about a hypothetical ticket starring Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren. But let’s face it: George W. Bush’s shoulder-rubbing aside, Angela Merkel would have a tough time passing the electability test for female politicians in America. Given cultural challenges already facing a female presidential candidate, does a ticket topped by two women have any real chance of happening? And does Warren — who hasn’t even endorsed Clinton — have any real interest in making it happen?
In politics, you never say never, but it seems unlikely. Still, a Boston Globe report that Senate minority leader Harry Reid is looking into how to keep Warren’s Senate seat in the hands of Democrats, if she’s tapped for the party’s ticket, created the only noise resembling buzz at Saturday’s gathering of Bay State Democrats in Lowell.
Asked about Reid’s alleged maneuvering on Warren’s behalf, Senator Edward J. Markey recalled that in 1992, when his party selected two Southern Democrats for the ticket, “A lot of people said, ‘That’s crazy thinking.’ A lot of people are saying today, two women on the ticket, ‘that’s crazy thinking.’ ” Markey, however, quickly rebutted that as “old thinking.” Conventional wisdom was wrong back then, he said, and Clinton and Warren could prove it wrong again: “With these two, it reinforces the direction that the country has to take. If she (Warren) was selected, it would fit perfectly with the historic moment of the time.”
In her speech to delegates, Warren kept up her fierce attack on Trump, calling the presumptive Republican nominee a “small, insecure moneygrubber” who’s only qualified to be “fraudster in chief.’’ Referencing failed Trump enterprises, including Trump University and the Latino judge who presides over a lawsuit challenging it, Warren said, “It’s time to stop sniveling and put on your big-boy pants, because this is what accountability feels like.’’
She’s an able attack dog. But that doesn’t mean she represents the ticket-balancing Clinton needs. Joe Biden brought age and mensch-ability to Barack Obama. Dick Cheney was the committed right-wing ideologue who anchored W.’s frat-boy persona with evil heft. The Clinton-Gore ticket represented the New South, but Gore also brought strait-laced wonkiness to Clinton’s feel-your-pain excess.
Warren is an obvious bridge to the Bernie Sanders brigade. But how much appeal does she have, beyond her adoring base? Like Hillary Clinton, Warren keeps her distance from the press and, with it, distance between herself and voters who don’t already know her.
In a short media availability after her convention speech, Warren mostly kept to her talking points. Asked what she sees as her 2016 role, she said she’s fighting to stop Trump because “I believe he is a truly dangerous man.” In response to Trump, she predicted Democrats will unite around issues such as reining in Wall Street, increasing the minimum wage, and making college affordable. As for choosing between Clinton and Sanders, she said, “There is no timetable. I’m just gonna try to help out any way I can.” Asked about the vice presidential speculation, Warren reiterated her love for her current job.
She offered a little news in response to a question about proposals from Sanders’ supporters to change the rules about superdelegates. “I’m a superdelegate. I don’t believe in superdelegates,” said Warren.
That doesn’t sound like the way to Clinton’s heart or to a vice presidential nod. In the end, gender and age matter less than willingness to expend political capital on Clinton’s behalf. So far with Warren, there’s scant evidence of that.Joan Vennochi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @joan_vennochi.