Why does Trump get a pass, but not Elizabeth Warren?

Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press/File 2017

Senator Elizabeth Warren during a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing.

By Globe Columnist 

DURING THE “Saturday Night Live” skit “What even matters anymore?,” the answer to every outrage was — nah, it doesn’t matter, not if President Trump did it.

But when it comes to Elizabeth Warren — yeah, everything matters.


Based on what she calls “family lore,” Warren said she believes she has Cherokee roots. No definitive evidence exists. This became a campaign issue when she first ran for Senate, in 2012. Trump picked up on it and regularly refers to her as “Pocahontas.” As Warren runs for reelection in Massachusetts and appears to be positioning herself for a possible presidential bid, her unproven ethnicity is turning into troubling political baggage, reports the Globe’s Annie Linskey.

Indignation on the right now has company on the left. Warren’s integrity is said to be on the line. Even political soul mates believe she must address this very serious topic — though it would be interesting to know how many of the offended have Iowa steak fries on their calendars and how many were also appalled by the behavior of Al Franken, another potential presidential candidate iced by fellow Democrats.

What’s wrong with this picture, besides everything? If this really torches Warren, why does Trump still get a pass on such a wide range of terrible, awful, not to mention immoral, behavior? On the personal front, there’s ample evidence of infidelity, sexual harassment, and worse committed by Trump. As a candidate, he was able to turn those issues against Hillary Clinton, not because of anything she did, but because of her husband’s behavior. Now that he’s president, it has been revealed that Trump allegedly had an affair with a porn star shortly after his third wife gave birth to their son. According to The Wall Street Journal, Trump’s personal lawyer paid the porn star $130,000 to buy her silence before the 2016 presidential election. Yet no one except the media reporting on it seems to care.

Trump’s lies are legendary. Just in his first year of office, he made 2140 false or misleading comments, according to a count by The Washington Post. Roy Moore was a bridge too far for Alabama voters. But Trump paid no political price with supporters, including evangelicals, for backing a Senate candidate accused of molesting teenagers. The president’s recent Oval Office comments on Haiti and African countries reminded the country yet again of his vulgar and racist world view. And his word means little; negotiating with him is like “negotiating with Jello,” as Senator Chuck Schumer put it.

But because the bar for Trump is set so low, nothing really matters. As Jessica Chastain moaned on SNL, “Everyone just moves on.” It wasn’t the funniest bit ever produced by that show, maybe because the premise is so depressing. As Trump the candidate put it, he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone — and you know the rest of the boast. He wouldn’t lose a vote. His base remains loyal, and his most recent approval rating is edging up to 40 percent. How long before even more Americans see a booming economy and decide a yawning character deficit is no big deal?


Warren is not so lucky. Without swabbing her cheek and sending her DNA off to, she contributed five recipes to a Native American cookbook entitled “Pow Wow Chow: A Collection of Recipes from Families of the Five Civilized Tribes: Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole.” She listed herself as a minority in a legal directory published by the Association of American Law Schools from 1986 to 1995 and never explained why she stopped self-identifying. She was listed as a Native American in federal forms filed by the law schools at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania where she worked. At one point, a Harvard spokesman actually told the Harvard Crimson she was Native American.

The horror! The horror!

Joan Vennochi can be reached at
Follow her on Twitter @Joan_Vennochi.