by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Since the issue was first raised during her 2012 Senate election campaign, Senator Elizabeth Warren has acted as if questions about her past claims of Native American ancestry were simply racist. Her assumption was that the more President Donald Trump called her “Pocahontas,” the better it was for her, since his insults are a badge of honor on the left. But as she prepares for what looks like a run at the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, it turns out the man in the White House is not the only one who thinks there’s something fishy about Warren’s attempt to brush off criticism of her fibs.
The fact that Warren has been involving herself in Native American issues and spoke to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) earlier this month is a tipoff that she is thinking about more than what will be a cakewalk to reelection in Massachusetts this fall. The Native American controversy is a potential liability, and not just because Republicans will never let her forget about it. In what is likely to be a brutally competitive 2020 Democratic race with a large field of candidates, for the first time, she can expect some fellow Democrats to chime in about her past claims.
That ought to provide plenty of motivation for Warren to dispose of the issue, by apologizing for what she can call a misunderstanding based on what turned out to be a family myth. Simply saying you’re sorry and leaving it at that goes a long way toward silencing critics in any crisis. But it appears that Warren isn’t choosing that path. Instead of putting the controversy to rest, Warren has chosen to embrace it.