BOSTON (CBS) – It isn’t often you see a freshman US senator eat the lunch of a sitting president of their own party.
But we saw it yesterday when a key vote on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a regulatory treaty promoted by the Obama administration as a key to expanding foreign trade, went against the White House, with only one Democrat siding with Obama.
TPP isn’t dead, but the vote was a critical blow to the so-called “fast track” authority the administration wanted to push the plan through. And standing triumphant after the vote was none other than Massachusetts’ own Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose mounting political clout was confirmed by the outcome.
“Her arguments don’t stand the test of fact and scrutiny,” the president had argued in an interview over the weekend with Yahoo News that featured an unusually-blunt critique of Warren. “Elizabeth is a politician like everybody else.”
Warren, who’s been scorching TPP for months as a giveaway to multinational corporations, didn’t take the floor during yesterday’s Senate debate or respond publicly to his Yahoo interview, but his dismissive tone earned the president backlash from Senate allies and the head of the National Organization for Women, who called his rhetoric “sexist.”
“The idea that you would pick a fight with the left-wing darling of your party was just a dreadful mistake,” says Prof. Marc Landy of the Boston College political science department, who sees Warren consolidating her position as the leading voice of the American left.
“She’s articulate and she’s willing to stick to a very clear position,” notes Landy. “Politicians always struggle, they want to trim, they want to move to the center, but she has determined that her future is to be the kind of pure spokesman for what these days is called progressivism.”
And with a broad cross-section of voters distrustful of Wall Street and other financial elites whose ties to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have proven problematic for her, Landy thinks Warren’s political clout will continue to grow regardless of who wins the White House next year.
And should Clinton stumble catastrophically well before the nomination?
“Then I would think she is the heir apparent.”