There’s a slow but steady drumbeat of support building up in the media for an Elizabeth Warren presidential run, and MSNBC is playing a huge part in it. On Wednesday’s All In, host Chris Hayes chatted with Esquire’s Charles Pierce about what makes Sen. Warren (D-Mass.) so great. Hayes began the interview by asking, “[W]hat is it about Elizabeth Warren that people love so much? There is some quality that is bringing something out in people.”
Pierce, who wrote a profile of Warren in Esquire, made a flattering comparison of the senator’s speaking style to that of an iconic liberal president. He exclaimed that “she gets the same effect out of ‘golly’ that Lyndon Johnson used to get out of curse words.”
Hayes gushed over Warren’s prowess as a liberal college professor, err, teacher. He cooed:
[T]he key thing to understanding her, understanding her political efficacy, understanding her appeal, is that what she has done more than anything else, for decades, is teach. And that her gift in politics is, in a time of sort of a lot of complex anxiety, being able to explain and teach voters.
The host touted Warren’s willingness to criticize her fellow Washington insiders, such as former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. Pierce agreed, and he rhapsodized about the senator’s anti-establishment image:
I mean, there are some people who, I guess some artists who we love because they don't -- they not only don't recognize the limits, they don't see them at all. And I don't think she sees the limits of the membership of the club. I don't think she understands what you're not supposed to do.
Hayes concurred, and added, “She is going about being senator in a way as if she isn't senator, and she's not scared of not being senator.”
It sounds like Pierce and Hayes love senators who don’t see limits and don’t follow the rules of the club. Well then, they must really love Ted Cruz. Sen. Cruz (R-Texas) is essentially the Elizabeth Warren of conservatism. If you read back over the previous two quotes, they sound like they could be referring to Cruz.
Cruz didn’t recognize the unwritten code of his membership in the Senate when he challenged Dianne Feinstein during a gun control hearing last year. He didn’t understand that he wasn’t supposed to fight so hard to try and defund ObamaCare. But those things endeared him to conservatives, just as Warren’s challenge of the wealthy bankers endeared her to liberals.
And yet, MSNBC personalities, along with most of the liberal media, have never shown anything but scorn for Cruz and his freewheeling tactics. Hmm, I wonder why. Well, not really, but you catch my drift.
Don’t expect Hayes to ever endorse a Ted Cruz campaign for president. But with Warren, it’s a different story. In fact, Hayes made a not-so-subtle endorsement of Warren during this very segment. At one point, the screen behind him showed a “Warren/Piketty ‘16" bumper sticker on the back of a car. “Piketty” refers to Thomas Piketty, a French socialist economist who shares many of Warren’s views.
Below is a transcript of the segment:
CHRIS HAYES: Elizabeth Warren has made a career of fighting for the middle class, for broadly shared prosperity and affordable education, against rigged games on Wall Street and the domination of the 1 percent. Her focused and relentless campaign against economic inequality is what makes so many people want her to run for president. Because politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. And right now the truth is, there's a political vacuum, a genuine bracing assault on our plutocracy is concerned. Joining me now is Charlie Pierce, writer at large for Esquire Magazine, political blogger for Esquire.com, who’s got a fantastic profile on Elizabeth Warren in the May issue of Esquire. And my first question for you, Charlie, watching Rachel last night, watching the interview with Rachel and Twitter, what is it about Elizabeth Warren that people love so much? There is some quality that is bringing something out in people, and you followed her around. What did you find?
CHARLES P. PIERCE: Well, first of all, congratulations to you and your wife on the new arrival.
HAYES: Thank you.
PIERCE: I think that, basically, you know, and I think I make this point in the story in Esquire, she gets the same effect out of ‘golly’ that Lyndon Johnson used to get out of curse words. When she says, ‘golly’ -- I mean, there's an evident sincerity and almost a kind of happy warrior thing to her. I mean, she does -- I mean, she's not preaching gloom and doom. She's preaching danger and she's trying to teach the lessons that we should have learned from the economic collapse, but she's not doing it in such a way that you feel gloomy after having talked to her.
HAYES: That's right. There's something about her, and you talk about her in the piece, as a teacher, that actually the key thing to understanding her, understanding her political efficacy, understanding her appeal, is that what she has done more than anything else, for decades, is teach. And that her gift in politics is, in a time of sort of a lot of complex anxiety, being able to explain and teach voters.
PIERCE: Yeah, we had a -- during our interview, we were talking about how -- and I don't know if this was your experience with her. But my experience with the economic meltdown in 2008 was, all of the sudden, I woke up one morning and the entire financial system was on the brink of falling into the ocean. I didn't know how it happened. I didn't know what a credit default swap was. I didn't know what a collateralized debt obligation was. I mean, those things all happened offstage. She has the ability to explain them to you in such a way -- as she always said, she always said that the parts of your credit card, the regulations on your cr card from the credit card company should be as easy to understand as the instructions for your toaster.
PIERCE: What she does is she makes what the financial services industry did to this country, and actually, to the world, as understandable as the directions for your toaster.
HAYES: There's an amazing anecdote – she's got a book out, that's why she was on Rachel's show last night, she's promoting this book – and there's an amazing anecdote in there. She talks about having a meal with Larry Summers. Of course, he was top economic advisor for the White House. “Larry Summers took Warren out to dinner in Washington and, she recalls, told her she had a choice to make. She could be an insider or an outsider, but if she was going to be an insider, she needed to understand one unbreakable rule about insiders. They don't criticize other insiders.” I -- my jaw was sort of agape at that exchange. And it’s sort of, I felt like, if it's true, and this is a first person account, it kind of told you everything you needed to know about why people love Elizabeth Warren and maybe why they don't feel so warmly towards Larry Summers.
PIERCE: Oh, to have been a fly on the wall at that table. I'm amazed that the rolls didn't start flying. Because, as we know in Washington, the only way that one insider talks bad about another insider is anonymously to one of us.
HAYES: Yes, to one of us. Right.
PIERCE: Yeah, exactly. But yeah, I mean I don't -- I mean, I think -- obviously, she's one of a hundred senators. So that puts her in an exclusive club. But I do not believe that -- I mean, there are some people who, I guess some artists who we love because they don't -- they not only don't recognize the limits, they don't see them at all. And I don't think she sees the limits of the membership of the club. I don't think she understands what you're not supposed to do.
HAYES: I think that's right. She is going about being senator in a way as if she isn't senator, and she's not scared of not being senator. Charlie Pierce from Esquire, thank you so much.