Is Warren running out of enemies?
Seeing the words “Trump” and “Wall Street” apparently does to Sen. Elizabeth Warren what waving a red cape does to an angry bull. But in Warren’s case, she sometimes jumps out of the ring and gores those spectators who are actually cheering for the bull to succeed.
While regularly blasting President-elect Donald Trump for impulsive reactions on Twitter, Warren herself uses social media as a Gatling gun when her senses are inflamed. But her recent takedown of New York hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson was a case of friendly fire that may come back and wound her.
Warren made a Facebook post after becoming incensed when she saw Tilson quoted in a Bloomberg News story about Trump’s nomination of Steve Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary and other appointees with financial ties. What galled Warren the most was Tilson’s observation that at least the picks had some financial background.
“I think Donald Trump conned [voters],” Tilson told Bloomberg. “I was worried that he was going to do crazy things that would blow the system up. So the fact that he’s appointing people from within the system is a good thing.”
The problem for Warren is that while those are Tilson’s words, that’s not what he said. Says who? Says Tilson, who describes himself and his wife as fervent Warren supporters who have donated to her campaign, paid big money to hear her speak, and even took a day to canvass in Pennsylvania and get people to register to vote to aid Hillary Clinton. For all that, Tilson got lit up like he was…Trump, a man he professes to “hate…and fought with every fiber of my being to stop this racist madman/con man from becoming elected.”
Tilson says he was expressing his delight that Trump supporters are getting their just due. He said his comment about appointing people with knowledge was less his satisfaction with insiders being picked and more his relief it wasn’t someone like Sarah Palin.
In an email to Warren’s staff that he shared in his weekly newsletter to supporters, Tilson pointed out that before and after the quote the senator plucked for posting were descriptions of his dislike for Trump, his policies, and his agreement with Warren over the direction of Wall Street. In an interview with the New York Times, Tilson said he was stung by the “ad hominem” attack.
“Personally, I feel betrayed,” he told the paper’s business columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin. “In recent years, I’ve really stuck my neck out by very publicly supporting her, the [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau], and a tough regulatory approach to banks — none of which wins me many friends — and this is how she repays me.”
It’s somewhat interesting, though, for Tilson to be upset with the attack since he’s been accused of using his position and money to take down some Democratic institutions and support groups such as teachers’ unions. Tilson is part of the group that formed Democrats For Education Reform, the organization that supports expanding charter schools and was behind the failed ballot question in Massachusetts to lift the cap.
But as upset as Tilson is with someone he thought was an ally, his wife is even more irate. Susan Blackman Tilson, who was a student in Warren’s first bankruptcy class at Harvard Law School in 1992, ripped her one-time progressive hero for indiscriminately – and wrongly – taking aim at her husband.
“When you post on Facebook, people pay attention,” she wrote to Warren. “You owe it to all of us to pick your fights with those who deserve it, and we all know that there are many who deserve it right now.”
Tilson says he still supports Warren and her stances – “albeit with somewhat less enthusiasm” — because, given the alternatives, she’s the best the Democrats have to offer. And while he still wants her to apologize, he won’t be checking his emails regularly for it.
“I wonder if she’ll be smart and gracious enough to sit down with Susan and me so we can put this behind us and figure out how to work together?” he wrote in his newsletter. “I’m not holding my breath – I think her fame and power may be going to her head.”
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