Grass-roots liberal movements gave birth to two Democratic stars over the past decade: one who rode a wave of antiwar sentiment into the White House and the other who became the ideological standard-bearer in the party’s fight against big banks and corporate greed.
Now, in a battle few saw coming three years ago, President Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are locked in an increasingly personal feud over a global trade deal that the president is trying to finalize in his last years in the White House. The clash has become a defining battle for Democrats, as Obama seeks — and Warren resists — “fast-track authority” from Congress that would give him a freer hand to cut trade deals.
The immediate goal for Obama is to make it easier to win approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal with 11 other Pacific Rim nations that would affect roughly 40 percent of the global economy.
The Democratic infighting is beginning to shape the economic themes of the campaign to succeed Obama in the Oval Office. Warren has said repeatedly that she will not run but that she is focused on trying to force the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton, further to the left on economic issues.
Warren appears to have won the initial battles. Senate Democrats on Tuesday stalled an effort to move the Trade Promotion Authority measure as the overwhelming majority of them supported a friendly-fire filibuster.
Clinton, meanwhile, has provided almost no cover for Obama on the trade issue even though she played a role in the early talks on the TPP and has long claimed the “pivot to Asia” as one of her most important accomplishments as Obama’s first secretary of state.
Against this backdrop, the bad blood between the White House and Warren has spilled into the open.
What began with a slight jab at Warren’s trade views — “She’s wrong on this,” Obama told MSNBC three weeks ago — has escalated into a series of daily barbs and retorts carried out on cable TV and Internet interviews, on radio shows and from the official podium at the White House.
Is anyone else seeing this for what it most likely is? I’m still not assuming Warren doesn’t have plans to run for president. So what is most likely going on here is one of two things:
1. She is trying desperately to distance herself from Obama, and what better way to do that then to publicly “feud” with him over an issue? Especially one a lot of voters know little about and won’t look into.
2. Obama is “getting her back” by trying to make her look like a fighter for the people… by publicly “feuding” with her over an issue a lot of voters know little about and won’t look into.
It just seems ill placed and, frankly, not very professional, that they are doing this publicly, and it stinks of a skit to make people go doe eyed over Warren, regardless of where they stand on the issue, if they stand anywhere at all. “This woman has got a brass set so big she’s not afraid to stand up to Obama! The president and once messiah!”
I’m thinking we’re going to be seeing an announcement from Warren sometime this year.