Pick Elizabeth Warren

By Alter, Jonathan | Newsweek, August 9, 2010 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Pick Elizabeth Warren


Alter, Jonathan, Newsweek


Byline: Jonathan Alter

Obama should relish the fight.

One of the annoyances of being president is that nearly everything is depicted as a "huge test" to pass or fail. The president's commitment to core values or his ideological fidelity or his political survival--something momentous is always "on the line." In truth, American presidents have multiple marking periods. They can flunk and flunk again and still succeed if they get the big things right.

So Obama will eventually recover if he decides not to appoint Elizabeth Warren to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which is the best-known part of the new financial-regulation law. But he would be making a terrible mistake to reject her, on both political and substantive grounds.

The working assumption in the White House is that Warren, a colorful Harvard Law professor and fierce consumer advocate, would be the hardest candidate to confirm. This is 100 percent wrong. The main alternative is Michael Barr, a well-regarded but little-known Treasury official who helped draft the bill. Barr is just as progressive as Warren, but the liberal base would be so demoralized by Obama snubbing Warren that any other nominee would be hamstrung from the start. And he is exactly the type of Obama nominee that Republicans on Capitol Hill have been burying all year. Because he's obscure, the GOP could delay Barr's nomination for months without fear of fallout. Warren's high profile gives her clout going into any hearings. Democrats who try to block her would be savaged by progressives in their home states. (Warren has become a rock star for the Netroots.) After some concern about wavering Democrats, all except possibly Ben Nelson seem set to back Warren, who may not be a household name but has considerable stature within the party.

Republican senators vote along party lines against Obama on almost every issue this side of Afghanistan. Having opposed the consumer bureau, the leadership will do everything it can to weaken it, including opposing Warren. But this particular obstructionism carries a price. The GOP would look horrible going into the fall campaign trashing the one official who has stood up for 200 million credit-card holders against predatory lenders. A few Republican senators (including Snowe, Collins, and Grassley) know this and seem willing to break ranks and oppose a filibuster.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Pick Elizabeth Warren
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?