Being Wicked Smaht Not Sufficient to Win in Massachusetts

Ben Smith shares this clue that the 2012 elections will be as high-minded as ever:

Byron emailed over a press release from the Massachusetts GOP, which points out that Elizabeth Warren couldn't name a Red Sox player when she was asked yesterday.

The release goes on to compare Warren's comments to Martha Coakley's "infamous gaffe" in 2010, and calls it a sign that Warren "comes from a world of Harvard elitism and is far removed from the middle-class values she claims to represent."

This didn't start with Martha Coakley, of course -- there's a long and storied history of candidates trying and failing to demonstrate their jus' folks bona fides by demonstrating their knowledge of and affection for the foods and sports and music and culture enjoyed by regular people. But it's good to remind ourselves of what exactly it's supposed to symbolize when a candidate struggles to remember the price of a gallon of milk, or how to spell "Youkilis." Those things are supposed to give us insight into whether the candidate really understands and appreciates the struggles of ordinary people, and whether the policies they pursue once elected will benefit ordinary people, or whether they will be so blinded by their isolation among the elite that they will be indifferent to those people's needs. It isn't actually important, on its own terms, that Warren be interested in baseball, since the amount of Red Sox-related legislation likely to come up in the Senate in the next four years is rather modest.

In some cases, these kinds of symbolic questions can actually offer a window into who a candidate is or what her perspective is likely to be. But in Warren's case, her entire career and public life has been about representing the interests of the middle class in opposition to those, like big banks, that have done so much to screw them. That's why Wall Street hates her. That's why Republicans opposed her creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and torpedoed her bid to be appointed to lead it: because they worried she'd be too aggressive in defending consumers and the middle class.

That connection between the symbol and what it's supposed to symbolize is often lost. So I have a solution to this problem, in two words: Yaz endorsement.

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