The campaigns of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are engaged in another tiresome argument over what will happen months from now, after primaries and caucuses identify a clear winner of the race for elected delegates to the Democratic National Convention.
In the meantime, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is busy shredding the candidacy of Ted Cruz and inviting everyone to recognize the absurdity of a Republican race in which conservative elites keep trying to position the hapless Texan as an alternative to the noxious prospect of Donald Trump.
Anticipating his overwhelming defeat in Tuesday’s New York Republican primary, Cruz started the week by offering his supporters a fine whine.
Pleading with “Team Cruz” to recognize the “significant sacrifice” he was making on their behalf, the senator from Texas complained in an e-mail, “There is almost no personal time when you run for president,” and griped that “Fighting morning and night for the future of our country ensures long nights and early mornings resulting in little to no sleep.”
The Texan suggested that his health might be impacted by a busy campaign schedule. And, not surprisingly, he whined that “I face a constant barrage of political and personal attacks daily.”
Cruz has always been the most self-important presidential contender—on either side of the partisan divide—and so it was only a matter of time before he got taken down a few notches.
What’s striking is the way in which Warren did the job.
She did not just note the Republican contender’s bellyaching. She put it in perspective.
“Are you kidding me? We’re supposed to pity him because trying to be the leader of the free world is hard?!” Warren wrote on Facebook and Twitter. “I’ve got two words for you, Ted: Boo hoo.”
Then she let rip:
Know whose health is limited? Workers with no paid leave who can’t stay at home when they fall ill or have to care for sick kids. Know whose sleep is limited? Working parents who do everything they can to save money but stay up at night worrying about how do get their kids through college without getting crushed by debt. Know who gets no personal time? People who work two minimum wage jobs to support their families. Know who gets no family time? Moms with unfair schedules who drop their kids off at daycare and drive halfway across town only to find their work hours have been cancelled.
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And Ted Cruz? He opposes mandatory paid family and medical leave and calls it “free stuff.” He voted against student loan refinancing. He’s says the minimum wage is “bad policy” and he’s done nothing to try and help workers struggling with unfair work schedules.”
As for the “constant attacks” of a campaign season, Warren wrote: “And know who’s facing constant attacks, Ted? Hardworking American immigrants, Muslims, LGBT folks, women. They’re facing the GOP’s constant attacks. They’re facing YOUR constant attacks.”
Warren concluded by referencing Cruz’s attempt to shut down the federal government:
Working people are working more and getting paid less. They can’t save. Some face mistreatment and discrimination. They can’t take time off work for illnesses or to spend time with family. But they don’t whine. They don’t throw tantrums or try to shut down their workplace because they don’t get their way—and then turn around and demand promotions.
Senator Cruz—you chose to run for President. Working people don’t get a choice. Maybe you should spend less time complaining about your “significant sacrifices”—and more time trying to do something about theirs.
It was a perfect takedown of a candidate whom the right-wing establishment of the GOP has been trying to position as a credible contender against Trump—or, at the least, as a vehicle to force an open convention.
And it was not the first such takedown by Warren.
She savaged Trump several weeks ago with a Facebook post that began: “Let’s be honest—Donald Trump is a loser. Count all his failed businesses. See how he kept his father’s empire afloat by cheating people with scams like Trump University and by using strategic corporate bankruptcy (excuse me, bankruptcies) to skip out on debt. Listen to the experts who’ve concluded he’s so bad at business that he might have more money today if he’d put his entire inheritance into an index fund and just left it alone.”
Warren continued: “Trump seems to know he’s a loser. His embarrassing insecurities are on parade: petty bullying, attacks on women, cheap racism, and flagrant narcissism. But just because Trump is a loser everywhere else doesn’t mean he’ll lose this election. People have been underestimating his campaign for nearly a year—and it’s time to wake up.”
Of all the Democrats in positions to make their voices heard at this point, Warren is the most awake.
And she is saying what needs to be said about the conservatives who would be president.
What’s important is that, while she notes their whining and their failures, Warren attacks the Republicans with a focus on the issues and the ideals that are the most effective tools for countering right-wing extremism.
The Democratic Party is in the midst of an ongoing race for its presidential nomination. That’s healthy for any party, and especially beneficial for the Democrats in a year where so much media attention is being lavished on the Republican competition. To their credit, Clinton and Sanders are both taking on Trump and, to a lesser extent, Cruz. Their critiques are sound, although they need to develop them as part of continued campaigning for their party’s nod.
Hyper-partisans can and will suggest that the Democratic race should be concluded in order to get the party focused on challenging the eventual Republican nominee. But that challenging work is already being done: by Elizabeth Warren.
Warren stands apart from the nomination fight on her side of the aisle, choosing not to endorse either contender. As such, she is perfectly positioned to take Republican rivals apart. And she is using that position.
Warren has indicated—repeatedly—that she is not running for any new job this year. But savvy Democrats, whether they are Sanders or Clinton backers, should recognize that Warren deserves serious consideration both as a potential keynote speaker at this summer’s Democratic National Convention and, yes, as a vice-presidential prospect. No prominent Democrat will arrive at the convention with so well-developed and so stinging a critique of the Republicans.