Warren’s wobbly week

Sen. Elizabeth Warren certainly was able to grab hold of a good chunk of the news cycle in recent days, something not easy to pull off in the era of near-constant chaos and outrageous pronouncements from the White House. Whether it will redound to her benefit is another matter.

Warren’s rollout of DNA test results that show distant Native American ancestry was an effort to put her controversial claims to rest in the runup to a widely expected 2020 run for president. The reviews of her effort have been less than glowing.

Under the breathless headline, “Elizabeth Warren’s DNA Disaster,” Gregory Smithers, a history professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, writes in Politico that Native American tribal identity is based on culture and lived experience, not chromosome markers. “Warren’s touting of her DNA results will help foster this misinformation about how Native American communities define identity and citizenship,” he writes — even though Warren has clearly stated she is not claiming tribal identity or membership.

David Bernstein wrote earlier this week for WGBH that the episode revealed Warren’s “inauthentic, opportunistic political instincts.”

There was indeed something cringe-inducing about the slick campaign-style video that accompanied the rollout of the DNA results. One wonders how many takes Warren and Stanford genetic biologist Carlos Bustamante did of their cross-country phone conversation purporting to capture the moment all was revealed and Warren learned the test results. It felt like a cheesy episode of the PBS series, “Finding Your Roots,” where Henry Louis Gates Jr. tells Tina Fey she is distantly related to Benjamin Franklin.

And why did she think this would end the nasty “Pocahontas” attacks from President Trump?

“Did Warren really think Trump cared about her family’s heritage, anymore than he cared about Barack Obama’s birthplace?” asks former Globe columnist Eileen McNamara in a piece for WBUR. She says the DNA brouhaha “underscores just how incapable Democrats are of countering the Republican fog machine.”

Warren did little in a meeting this week with the Globe editorial board to burnish the image she seems to fancy of herself as the Democratic version of John McCain’s Straight Talk Express. When asked why she decided to do the DNA test now and release its results, Scot Lehigh says she wandered off for five minutes into talk of Medicare, infrastructure needs, and wealth inequality

When pressed to return to the question that was asked, she said, “I believe in transparency. This was just another part of that.”

Notwithstanding her meanderings, Lehigh says the substance of the whole ordeal boils down to two facts, established by the DNA test and an exhaustively reported Globe story last month: The family lore Warren has referenced as the source of her belief she has Native American ancestry appears to be supported by scientific testing, while there is no evidence that her claims to this background played any role in her rise through academic legal circles.

Why, however, she listed herself on several occasions in her teaching career at universities as Native American remains a curious part of her past, even if not consequential to her career advancement. Warren seemed to hint in her meeting at the Globe that it had been a mistake to do so.

As McNamara points out, there’s no reason to think any of this will change Trump’s attacks on her. And Warren has come in for blistering attacks as well from some Native American leaders, who accuse her of exploiting the ancestry issue.

Warren nonetheless was following a fairly accepted political playbook for those ramping up a possible run for higher office. “Her plan is to take out the trash, or, for the Monty Python fans, ‘bring out your dead,’” writes Annie Linskey in Friday’s Globe.

The idea is to anticipate issues that might be used against you, roll them out early on your own, and hope that doing so lets you move past them when the campaign spotlight starts shining more brightly. That’s the idea, at least.

“So the real question around the effect of her DNA tests,” writes Linskey, “is this: Did she take out the trash? Or just dump it on the front lawn?”



A review by a private accountant of the state Treasurer’s abandoned money list, where forgotten cash lands when an owner supposedly can’t be found after “every effort to contact the owner,” discovered the state is the hard-to-find owner of nearly 10,000 unclaimed items on the list totaling more than $6.6 million from businesses, utilities, and insurance companies. (Keller@Large)


Falmouth businesses are balking at a new law requiring fingerprinting and a $100 fee for certain license holders such as managers of alcohol establishments, ice cream vendors, and street hawkers. (Cape Cod Times)

The cost to complete the renovation of Union Station in Worcester grows by $1.5 million, in part because of asbestos concerns. (Telegram & Gazette)

The Boston Herald checks in with a Lawrence family that has been displaced to a Nashua, New Hampshire, hotel following the Merrimack Valley gas explosions.


At a rally in Montana, President Trump praised a congressman who body-slammed a reporter as “my kind of guy.” (New York Times)

Right-leaning congressional hardliners and conservative supporters of President Trump have begun a whisper campaign to smear Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident journalist believed to be tortured and killed by operatives connected to the Saudi Arabia royal family. (Washington Post)


Despite the controversy over its potential impact, the state’s Democrats are lining up with labor on the nurse staffing ballot measure. (CommonWealth)

Rich Parr examines the estimated 3 of every 10 voters who say they will vote for both Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Charlie Baker for reelection. (WBUR)

Baker tried to remake the state Republican Party into his more moderate image — but has largely failed. (Boston Globe)

Despite the excitement among liberals with victories like that of Ayanna Pressley, US Rep. Stephen Lynch says Democrats’ hopes for retaking the House rest with the ability of moderate candidates to defeat Republican incumbents in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania. (Boston Herald)

The Humane Society and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) are at odds over a ballot question in California that would spell out how animals produced for food can be confined. (Governing)


Amazon has reportedly revisited several cities as it winnows down the contenders of where to locate its HQ2 but Boston is not listed among those getting second visits. (Wall Street Journal)

Nonprofits say a proposed hike in first class and marketing postal rates would put a significant dent in their fundraising totals. (Chronicle of Philanthropy)


Boston is not alone in facing late school buses as an official with the company providing Framingham’s service told the Framingham School Committee that their tardy buses were due in large part to a nationwide shortage of drivers. (MetroWest Daily News)

The state Inspector General ripped a Dorchester charter school, which is under probation because of low student performance, for the generous compensation given to its former director, including an overpayment of nearly $100,000 on her way out the door. (Boston Globe)


Gov. Charlie Baker issued an order allowing pharmacies to dispense Narcan, the overdose-reversing drug, without a prescription. (Associated Press)

A survey of Scituate teens shows drinking and marijuana use are down but vaping has spiked even though the students use less tobacco. (Patriot Ledger)


Trying to ease regulatory concerns, Central Maine Power agrees to run its transmission line carrying Canadian hydroelectricity under rather than over the Kennebec Gorge in Maine. (CommonWealth)

Gloucester aggregates its customers for a new way to purchase electricity that is cheaper than what National Grid offers, at least for now. (Gloucester Times)


Two cannabis labs are now approved to test marijuana for sale. (WBUR) The state Cannabis Control Commission will consider allowing home delivery of pot. (Boston Globe)

An insurance industry study finds that the number of car crashes is up in states where recreational marijuana is legal but the report makes no correlation to pot use as a cause. (U.S. News & World Report)


Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian’s medication assisted treatment program for inmates wins national recognition. (State House News)

A Boston police officer who was shot in 2016 filed suit against the online gun sales site through which the weapon he was hit with was allegedly purchased. (Boston Globe)


WBUR’s BizLab invites other public radio stations to explore ways to boost revenue. (WBUR)


Get ready for 10 days of sleep deprivation as the Red Sox advance to the World Series after beating the Houston Astros four games to one. The Sox will play the winner of Los Angeles Dodgers-Milwaukee Brewers series, with Game One of the series at Fenway on Tuesday night. (ESPN)