Harvard’s Elizabeth Warren may win against Massachusetts’ Scott Brown tomorrow, but she isn’t smiling.
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According to a recent profile of Warren in the friendly Boston Globe, the couple clashed over her career ambitions and Jim moved out first. With Jim Warren now dead (and no obituary or documented evidence of his existence seemingly available, aside from the yearbook photos), it’s hard to verify whether or not the Globe’s account of the split is accurate. But even the Globe acknowledges that by the time the divorce was finalized, Elizabeth Warren had already begun a relationship with Bruce Mann, an ambitious visiting professor at the University of Houston Law Center, where Warren was teaching part-time. Warren and Mann married in 1980 and her children quickly started calling Mann “Dad.” As Mann told the Globe, it’s always better to be a second husband “because you will look great in comparison.”
By the time Mann met Warren, he already had three advanced degrees from Yale and his prospects in legal academia were soaring. Warren, a mere graduate of Rutgers School of Law-Newark, first identified herself as a Native American in the American Association of Law Schools Directory in 1984, presumably to keep up.
When Mann was hired as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law in 1987, Warren — then still a research associate at the University of Texas — was also added to the Penn Law faculty. By that time, she had only published two full-length academic works: a “published grant application” with two co-authors entitled “Funded Proposal #8310193” and a popular-market teachers manual published by Little, Brown, and Co.
That was all it took to get her a minority slot. Warren and Mann both later moved to Harvard.
Warren’s children grew up leading a charmed life. Her daughter Amelia married Brown University classmate Sushil Tyagi, an Indian-born film producer and businessman who has made a number of movies in Iran, including one, Barefoot to Herat, which depicted the “plight” of refugees in a Taliban camp following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The Tyagis currently live in a mansion in Pacific Palisades, California.
Warren-Tyagi is now the founder of Demos, the left-wing New York City think tank that successfully sued the state of Massachusetts this year to send voter registration forms to all of the state’s welfare recipients — a ploy that cost Massachusetts taxpayers $276,000. (After Demos’ participation in Massachusetts politics became public knowledge, the think tank changed the mission statement on its website, erasing its stated goal of “rethinking American capitalism” and replacing it with Warren-friendly terms like “strengthen the middle class.”)
And it was Warren-Tyagi who first boosted her mother’s nascent political career, inviting Warren to speak at Demos events and introducing the Harvard professor to the left-wing political establishment. Warren became a frequent Rachel Maddow guest, a one-off Vogue model, a self-proclaimed godmother to the Occupy movement, and, of course, the architect of President Obama’s disastrous Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Dodd-Frank agency’s creation was so plagued by Warren’s battles with Capitol Hill Republicans that Rep. Patrick McHenry accused her of lying in sworn testimony and blasted her “sense of entitlement.”
When Warren was finally persuaded to challenge Scott Brown for Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat, she was handed all the keys to the tightly-knit progressive fundraising infrastructure established in 2004 to defeat George W. Bush. She was funded by George Soros, endorsed by Harry Belafonte, and backed by national astroturf groups like ProgressNow, which pledged millions of dollars to setting up rapid-response messaging groups in Massachusetts targeting Brown. David Brock’s “gaffe-catching” video operation American Bridge 21st Century placed a target on her Republican opponent. The progressive movement, God damn it, was going to put one of its own in the Senate.
The only thing standing in its way: those obnoxious Massachusetts people.
When Warren showed up to the annual St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast/roast in South Boston in March, the Boston Democrats seated her far away from the Table of Honor. Brown, meanwhile, sat front and center next to the podium. In a piece entitled “Old-School Dems Have Their Guy: Scott Brown,” Globe columnist Joan Vennochi described how Brown killed with his dirty jokes while Warren was frequently mocked by the politicos, who wondered aloud how people in the “foreign land” of Southie would react to seeing Warren on their doorstep. When it was her turn to deliver a routine, Warren instead gave a stump speech: “One day Scott Brown is a centerfold for Cosmo, the next day he’s the poster boy for Goldman Sachs.” No one laughed.
IT WAS IN THE aftermath of the Indian scandal that Scott Brown proved himself a political genius. Realizing that the campaign had become not just sensational but almost like some kind of fable, he launched his summer “Provincetown to Pittsfield Tour” of Massachusetts small businesses, with a map on his website charting his path and new videos from every stop. On Day Two he addressed viewers before setting off from South Station in Boston, rolled-up newspaper literally in hand. “We’ll see you out and about,” he said as if to go along with that day’s “city” theme.
In Taunton, at a roadside hot-dog stand, he had his iconic truck with him and a bag of potato chips. “Somebody getting out on a hot day, making a difference, paying the bills, and providing a service,” he said of the stand owner. In West Roxbury, he wore a West Roxbury jersey and asked the crowd behind him, “Let’s have a West Roxbury cheer.” It went on like that from stop to stop, with a new aesthetic and a new local theme.
It was the kind of gimmick that makes Brown’s detractors in the national media so angry, the kind that inspires the Huffington Posts and the Washington Posts to write dismissively about the “likeability factor” in local politics, as though the only reason the parents and businesspeople of Massachusetts prefer Brown over Warren is because he’s a nice guy and less intellectually intimidating than his opponent. But close observers of his “Provincetown to Pittsfield Tour” understood just exactly what he was doing.
Shaunna O’Connell, the state representative for Taunton, told me on Day 2 of Brown’s tour why his visit to the General Dynamics facility in Taunton was such a success. “There were about 300 employees there and everyone wanted to thank him for his work on stopping the reprogramming of funding for the WIN-T program,” O’Connell told me. The WIN-T program is the U.S. Army communications network. General Dynamics is a prime contractor for the program. Brown’s work in the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C. directly impacted the lives of 300 workers in Taunton, Massachusetts. At each stop on his tour, sources told me, there were similar cases of people thanking Brown for specific votes, for specific legislative accomplishments he had made that benefited small handfuls of people in his home state.
For all of the talk in this race about “Southie” voters (by national media types who have seen The Departed), the working-class Boston city vote has actually spread out over the state in the past several generations. Most of them no longer talk like Mark Wahlberg characters, but have actually graduated to suburban, middle-class status. Brown himself is a National Guard member, the father of a country singer, and a former state senator for people in western Mass. more inclined to follow the Patriots in Foxborough than the Celtics in Boston.
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