Ten Miles Square


November 07, 2012 11:10 AM Warren Has the Skills for the Senate

By Jonathan Alter

The victory of Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts marks the arrival in the Senate of a major new figure in American politics.

To be effective, she will have to lay low for a few years, as Hillary Clinton and Al Franken did. We’ll see if she has the patience and good sense to do so. But if she does, she will have a long and illustrious career.

Her strengths — raising and championing complex but critical issues — are a perfect match for the institution. I once saw her get a standing ovation for a subtle and informative speech about banking. I can’t think of anyone else who could do that.

Warren’s election scares a lot of business people. It shouldn’t. I’ve known her for years and can say with certitude that she is pro-business and has many friends in the business world. What she opposes are businesses — the credit-card industry comes to mind — with a history of gouging their customers. To those, she will show no mercy. But she will also work hard to fashion pro-growth policies that work broadly, not just for specific interests.

She will defy the expectations of a lot of people who formed a mistaken impression of her in recent years.

Jonathan Alter a contributing editor of the Washington Monthly, is the author of one book on Franklin D. Roosevelt and two on Barack Obama.


  • OKDem on November 08, 2012 10:29 AM:

    It is a sad fact that if you are an intelligent, caring, decent human being,you have to leave Oklahoma to reach your potential.

  • scott_m on November 08, 2012 12:18 PM:

    This lone rank-and-file Democrat is excited indeed to see Elizabeth Warren elected to the Senate. I think the importance is on a par with Obama's re-election.

    The long march back to a government responsive to the people starts here.

  • bdop4 on November 08, 2012 4:21 PM:

    Not sure if we can afford the luxury of having Liz Warren "lay low" for a few years. Maybe we should stop thinking of the Senate as a "Good Ole Boys Club" and open the floor for new perspectives.

    But I get it and I'm sure she will press her case behind closed doors. It's up to the Old Guard to get a clue because they haven't handled the situation too well up to now.

    Case in point: filibuster reform. Pardon me if I don't trust Harry Reid to propose anything that can't ultimately be gamed by the GOP.

  • OKDem on November 08, 2012 5:46 PM:

    Reid already said clearly that he wants to remove debate, and so the filibuster, from the motion to consider. This is the point when the GOP has killed most bills and virtually all nominatations lately. Filibusters of popular bills and nominees is much more dangerous.

    Even this small change would be the greatest since cloture was reduced from 66 to 60.


    motion to proceed to consider - A motion, usually offered by the majority leader to bring a bill or other measure up for consideration. The usual way of bringing a measure to the floor when unanimous consent to do so cannot be obtained. For legislative business, the motion is debatable under most circumstances, and therefore may be subject to filibuster.

  • John on November 08, 2012 10:26 PM:

    It's curious what different people consider to be pro or anti business. There is a strain of thought that says that Laissez-faire policies are pro business. That might be good for a few incumbents, but it doesn't help us long term. Open and fair competition means that some incumbents will go out of business. That is painful but better for all of us in the long run. Imagine an orchard which gets pruned from time to time. The trees don't like this so they hire lobbyists and get the rules changed so they aren't pruned. Less painful for them but in the long run everyone suffers.

    Elizabeth Warren will be a fantastic senator. I am thrilled that she was elected.

  • Jesse Fell on November 09, 2012 8:15 AM:

    She'll need to "lie" low, not "lay" low for a while. Whatever the usage, I hope it's not for long!