A surreal update to my item from yesterday, which posed two questions about the curious case of Elizabeth Warren, alleged "Native American." The first: If Warren never, ever, ever would have exploited her possible heritage for career advancement, why did Warren classify herself as a Native American in 1986? The second: Why did she remove that label nine years later -- after she'd achieved tenure at Harvard? Yesterday evening, the candidate answered both curiosities. I swear I am not making this up:
“I listed myself in the directory in the hopes that it might mean that I would be invited to a luncheon, a group something that might happen with people who are like I am. Nothing like that ever happened, that was clearly not the use for it and so I stopped checking it off.”
The Massachusetts Democrat -- who might be 1/32 Cherokee (more on that later) -- formally self-identified as a Native American in a professional journal for nine years because...she was hoping to get invited to a luncheon. She wanted to socialize "with people who are like I am." Then supposedly, after holding out hope for that elusive lunch invitation for almost a decade, she gave up on breaking into that clique, so she "stopped" checking the "yup, I'm a Native American" box on the form. That's her story. Really. I'm almost at a loss for words. This is the best the Warren campaign could muster? She listed herself as an ethnic minority in hopes of being asked along to "a group something." For nine years. Then gave up. This does not even come close to passing the laugh test. Let's try this alternate explanation on for size: Warren was told as a girl that some of her ancestors were Native Americans. When she set out to establish a career in the academy, she recalled that family lore and decided to make it "official," because she knew the politically-correct world of academia would find that detail mysterious and unique. Plus, she knew she might get some extra considerations here or there, in the name of "diversity," which is something of a religion on the Left. Finally, after she'd achieved the pinnacle of her profession (tenure at Harvard Law) she abandoned the silly and slightly risky game because it was no longer necessary. Does that sound slightly more plausible to you than the howler she's peddling to the press? Yeah, me too.
Setting aside her intelligence-insulting tale, Warren may have inadvertently compounded her problem by letting an implicit admission slip: She says she "stopped checking it off" in 1995, after hopes of a luncheon invitation faded. "It" being the "Native American" identification box. Unless I'm misunderstanding her quote, this implies that she proactively checked that box every year. It wasn't a mindless, one-time error in judgment. She persisted in consciously identifying herself as a Native American every year for nine years -- a period that just happened to coincide with her ascension through the professional ranks. What a remarkable coincidence, no? With her back to the wall and her story falling apart, Warren is back to playing the gender card:
"The only one as I understand it who’s raising any question about whether or not I was qualified for my job is Scott Brown and I think I am qualified and frankly I’m a little shocked to hear anybody raise a question about whether or not I’m qualified to hold a job teaching,” she said, pushing to put Brown on defense. “What does he think it takes for a woman to be qualified?”
I don't think anyone is questioning your qualifications at this stage, professor. I'd say we're questioning your honesty, judgment and integrity. And the sexism red herring is embarrassing. Just stop. I'll leave you with three kickers to this mess:
(1) Via Legal Insurrection: "The section [of the directory] listing 'minority' faculty doesn’t list which minority, so Warren listing herself that way would not be a means of meeting other Native Americans, because no one else would know she was claiming to be Native American just from the listing." Wouldn't she have identified this massive flaw in her quest to make NA friends after, say, the first year?
(2) According to a Republican source, several Native American clubs and organizations existed at Harvard while Warren was there, yet yearbooks and membership directories show no evidence that Warren was involved with any of them. Wouldn't this have been a good place to seek out "people who are like I am," if that were her true intention?
(3) According to the Boston Herald, even the report that Warren's great-great-great grandmother was Cherokee cannot be confirmed:
Warren’s statements come as genealogists at the New England Historic Genealogical Society were unable to back up earlier accounts that her great great great grandmother is Cherokee. While Warren’s great great great grandmother, named O.C. Sarah Smith, is listed on a electronic transcript of a 1894 marriage application as Cherokee, the genealogists are unable to find the actual record or a photograhic copy of it, Society spokesman Tom Champoux said.
UPDATE - You've got to be kidding:
Her grandfather had high cheek bones. "Like all the Indians do." This is her latest evidence: An anecdote from her aunt, commenting on the facial structure of someone who was three generations removed from a woman who might have been Cherokee (presuming she's even talking about the correct side of her family).