Elizabeth Warren: Bailout Queen

Karl Rove’s latest ad has to set an all-time record for hypocrisy and factual inversion. The ad actually manages to blame Elizabeth Warren for the bank bailouts.

As anyone who hasn’t spent the past three years in a cave must know, Warren has been the nation’s single most effective, relentless, and brave critic of the bailouts. It was that service as chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel that made her one of America’s most admired public leaders.

The ad slyly begins with Warren speaking, leading the viewer to imagine that this is a Warren ad. Warren says, “The first thing I’m going to promise is that I’m going to be a voice in the room on behalf of middle-class families.”

Then a sneering female voiceover cuts in, and asks, “Really? Congress had Warren oversee how your tax dollars were spent bailing out the same banks that caused the financial meltdown, bailouts that helped pay big bonuses to bank executives while the middle class lost out.”

The ad concludes, “Tell Professor Warren we need more jobs, not more bailouts and bigger government.”

Note that the ad never says in so many words that Warren supported bailouts, but that’s clearly the implication of both the description of her service on the oversight panel and of the closing line. You’d never know that Warren was the bailout’s leading critic, a job that she performed so well that it made her the No. 1 target of the banking industry.

Hypocrisy is said to be the tribute that vice pays to virtue. In this case, Rove is using Warren’s own strongest themes to attack Warren herself—defend the middle class, prevent the big banks from the destroying the economy—and then attributing the opposite to Warren.

Republicans are in the same general bind on the issue of whether to tax millionaires to extend payroll tax relief on workers. They can only survive by running away from their own views and attributing them to progressives.

Happily, Warren’s good work is so well known that the ad will strike viewers as laughable. But it is a new low in misrepresentation and a telling illustration of just how far Rove and his paymasters will go in a campaign of deception.

Comments

I've been watching a lot of documentaries recently on financial and economic topics that feature Elizabeth Warren. I've noticed that she uses a rhetorical technique where she speaks, in some sense, from the perspective of those she disagrees with. (Eg, "When I speak to executives, they say, 'X is really great because it makes a lot of money for banks.'") If you listen to/watch the whole clip, she'll then take on the opposing perspective and show the flaw in that reasoning. But, whenever I watch her speak I always think, "It'd be so easy to edit that clip, take it out of context, and make it seem like she holds the exact opposite view she actually does. You could easily snip the clip so that you just have her saying, "X is really great because it makes a lot of money for banks." It doesn't help that she tends to speak with such earnestness in her tone that it sounds like she genuinely thinks that!

People who specialize in taking things out of context (like O'Keefe) could have a field day with her, and they will. I'm just surprised they haven't already.

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