As Hillary Clinton was presenting her running mate to the public Saturday, Senator Elizabeth Warren was otherwise occupied.
She was appearing with President Obama on his weekly radio address, on which they celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, one of Warren’s signature ideas. Obama praised Warren as “one of our strongest advocates for families and consumers like you.” Warren, in turn, proudly noted that the agency, which she set up, has already aided 27 million consumers.
After months of frenzied speculation that Warren might be Clinton’s running mate on a historic Democratic ticket, her life had returned to normal. Just like that.
It’s hard to imagine that Warren isn’t a bit disappointed that she lost out on her chance to run for vice president. Despite her suspected ambivalence about Clinton, it seemed pretty clear that she had come to want the position. Instead, it went to Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, a swing state pol who, from the start, was seen as the most likely choice.
Warren praised Kaine, both in a speech Saturday to the Latino advocacy group La Raza, and on Twitter. Then she returned to familiar ground, going at it on Twitter with Republican nominee Donald Trump. In typically juvenile fashion, Trump had tweeted about her non-selection. She didn’t let it go unanswered. “I’m right where I want to be, @realDonaldTrump: Calling you out & holding you responsible for your reckless vision for America,” Warren tweeted.
Though I thought a Clinton-Warren ticket would have been an interesting option for the Democrats, it’s good news for Massachusetts Democrats that she is staying put. Warren is probably more valuable where she is, arguing for the issues that animate her. She and Clinton, who are not political soul mates, would have made for an awkward marriage.
Warren’s audition for the job was a bit odd. She didn’t endorse Clinton until her endorsement really didn’t make any difference. She did nothing to tamp down the suspicions that her sympathies were really with Bernie Sanders all along. It’s possible that she enjoyed being mentioned as a contender for the number two slot much more than she wanted the position itself.
If Warren was ambivalent about her dark horse chances of being Clinton’s running mate, she is proving that she doesn’t need to be on a ticket to serve as a vociferous attack dog. In the first presidential campaign in which Twitter has meant anything, she has clearly had fun attacking Trump. Sunday she was back on Twitter, declaring that Trump’s “stupid wall” on the Mexico border will never be built. For someone who began her political career given to rather long-winded lectures, she has adapted to the 140-character form with surprising ease.
Would she have been a good running mate, or a good vice president, for that matter? Opinions vary. She would have been a natural at the attack-dog part. Whether Warren is temperamentally suited to being a second banana — or has the diplomatic skills to work in tandem with someone she has issues with — that’s a different matter.
Someone who knows Warren well and admires her suggested to me that she would not make a good running mate or vice president, because compromise is foreign to her nature. That rings true to me. Compromise is at the heart of being second-in-command. But by nature, Warren is a solo practitioner.
She is scheduled to speak to the convention on Monday night, in an address Democrats hope will energize left-leaning voters still ambivalent about Clinton. Warren’s economic populism — coupled with her deep contempt for Trump — should make for fun viewing.
To cite a classic song Trump has outrageously co-opted, you can’t always get what you want. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Warren will continue to attack Trump, in her own energetic style. That’s probably the one part of being a running mate that truly suits her.