The Left’s love affair with Elizabeth Warren

You can draw your own conclusions about Elizabeth Warren and whether she is helping consumer finance or shutting it down.  The fact is that I can’t figure out the real facts in this puff piece, so I can’t determine where the truth lies.  To be honest, I kind of started gagging after this paragraph, which came right at the beginning:

Among all the dramatis personae of post-financial crisis Washington, there is no one remotely like Ms. Warren, 60, who has divided the town between those who admire her and those who roll their eyes at her. She is an Oklahoma native, a janitor’s daughter, a bankruptcy expert at Harvard Law School and a former Sunday School teacher who cites John Wesley — the co-founder of Methodism and a public health crusader — as an inspiration. She brims with cheer, yet she is such a fearsome interrogator that Bruce Mann, her husband, describes her as a grandmother who can make grown men cry. Back at Harvard, Ms. Warren’s teaching style is ”Socratic with a machine gun,” as one former student put it. In Washington, she grills bankers and Treasury officials just as relentlessly.

As one of her former victims, er, I mean students, I can tell you that people almost certainly fall apart when she grills them because she is incoherent. I’ve seldom had a teacher who was as poor at communicating ideas as was Elizabeth Warren.  Getting her to finish a thought or sentence was a nightmarish endeavor.  She communicated in elliptical half sentences, anchored by inchoate thoughts.  If I was in the hot seat, I would also cry if she was grilling me.  You know you’re supposed to say something, but her prose is so impenetrable, you can’t figure out what.

She is a nice lady in ordinary conversation, but I would rank her as one of the worst teachers I ever had.  (And if she’s considered one of the better Harvard Law professors, that tells me about as much about Harvard Law as I ever wanted to know.)

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  • Charles Martel

    One of the many reasons I quit reading The New York Times years ago was terrible writing like this article on Ms. Warren. It is so formulaic that it reminded me of the dance gooney birds do when the male is trying to lay the female. One missed shimmy or dip of the head and the girl loses all interest.

    So the key to keeping your Upper Westside audience entertained is to slip in an aw-shucks Algeresque “janitor’s daughter” here and a name drop there–“a former Sunday School teacher who cites John Wesley”–that establishes the article’s inclusiveness and readworthiness by mentioning a devout 18th-century Christian whose moral vision can be distorted to serve the ends of Christianity Lite practitioners like Ms. Warren.  

    No wonder why one of my favorite sections of The Weekly Standard is the “Sentences We Didn’t Finish.” Actually, in the case of the NYT, “Sentences We Never Started.”

  • kagey45

    I’ve seen her as a guest on CNBC a few times and got a bad vibe from her.  Reading about your experience as her student is confirmation for me.  I guess I can smell a blowhard, muddled-thinking liberal from Harvard Law School from a mile away. (Barack Obama never impressed me either.)

  • Ymarsakar

    “You know you’re supposed to say something, but her prose is so impenetrable, you can’t figure out what.”
    I think I’d have tapped into my inner demon. The one that likes to spew hate filled rants as a sort of self-medication for not being able to bust heads in. She’s got her self-medication, I have mine, supposedly.
    One thing that I have noted is that the people who tend the strongest towards monkish behavior tend to be rudderless in their own culture (political stripe is irrelevant) and have hopped from one faddish thing in philosophy or religion to another. Intriguingly enough all of them – especially those who are professed Liberals or New Agers – also go straight for the most conservative element in another culture. I have mused on this and will pass along my thoughts for better or worse. The word “samurai” comes from the Japanese word samaru which means “to serve” and lest we forget it, a samurai was a servant. No, they were not nobles but the bodyguards and soldiers who worked for the nobility. (Pause and think about those people in our society. A lot of folks who fancy themselves “warriors” would run from actual military service. They also seriously look down their noses at the socioeconomic classes that are the backbone of the army too.) The concept of someone dedicated to a higher cause and fearlessly defending the weak has great appeal. In our modern era all to often we do not make distinctions of right and wrong because, frankly, it really doesn’t matter to a large extent. For most folks behavior is self-regulating. Anarchists, a seemingly extreme example, advocate a complete absence of government and any sort of legal control but in those places where this has come to pass, even for a brief period of time (Somalia, Rwanda) the effect has been anything but salubrious. People such as the Anarchists show strongly that they are solidly middle class Americans, where they pretty much always do the right thing anyway and sort of resent the government as meddling. They are not thinking along the lines that everybody will raise an army and start sacking each other which is precisely what happens.
    A lot of the appeal to be a samurai for these people is that there really is a code of ethics that goes with it. We do not tend to teach our own kids much in this way and that’s a pity. A lot of recent education has been along multicultural lines. This is good in theory but in practice it tends to homogenize everything and convince people that ethical behavior is more or less bunk. [One quick aside, ethics comes from Greek ethos meaning custom. Morals come from Latin mos (pl. mores) meaning… custom, so even in the Ancient World they knew that these were not absolutes but relative to the society.] Ethics really just categorize what people in a given society think is acceptable behavior and my objection with such education is that it fails to get to be able to tell right from wrong. Just because another society has a different set of ideas on this does not mean that you cannot make sense of such issues. Seriously, consider the case of the Elema people in New Guinea. There the best way to avenge some serious wrong would be to befriend your enemy, gain his trust then as treacherously as possible murder and eat him. Missionaries were in for quite a jolt when they realized that the natives saw Judas as the great hero of the Bible. (No I don’t support missionary work, but this is one of the more famous recent examples of a sociological disconnect. Another was the conversion of Japanese to Christianity in the late 1500’s in which they saw the Book of Revelation as following usual revenge-driven folktales but now with a cosmic twist. Many new converts simply assumed that prayers would let them call down severe supernatural powers on their enemies.) Certainly we do not eat each other in our society and for us this is just plain wrong and we should be prepared to label it as such. Finding out about other ethical systems and being aware of them is a fine goal. Intuitively people usually can tell right from wrong at least in straightforward cases, but rather than clarifying the situation current education often makes them feel so uneasy about it that they shy away from thinking about it at all.
    Check that out, Book. Any of this sound familiar to your own MA school?

  • Zhombre

    Bankruptcy expert at Harvard Law School?  That’s a joke.  I’ve worked in bankruptcy for the feds since 1992, in the trenches as it were,  and I will testify that Ms. Warren’s landmark Harvard study, that attributed the majority of consumer bankruptcies to unpaid medical bills, was a crock.  It was a polemic for socialized medicine with a faux-scientific veneer, an abuse and misuse of science.  Warren’s Harvard co-author of that study, David Himmelstein, went on to publish another study attributing 45,000 deaths annually in the US to lack of health insurance, an equally dubious claim, but one that is presented as Fact by the left, most notoriously by Congressman Alan Grayson (Demagogue-Florida).

  • Bookworm

    Thank you, Z, for confirming what I’ve always suspected — Warren is a sham.  She’s an ideologue who bends facts to bolster her political goals.  Add to that her miserable teaching skills, and you have little left.  No wonder she’s risen so high in the Obama administration.