Biden Guy Ed Rendell Hits Elizabeth Warren And It's ... Really? That's It?

2020 democratic primary
Photo by Dominic Gwinn

During the 2016 presidential campaign, former governor of Pennsylvania and smooth talker Ed Rendell predicted that Donald Trump would lose based on the scientific principle that there are more "ugly women in America than attractive women." Turns out there were more hot women voters who are also xenophobic bigots than Penthouse Forum ever led us to believe. Donald Trump is now president and Rendell should've never been heard from again. But aren't we lucky! Rendell, a surrogate for Joe Biden, is back with more words about women, specifically the woman known as Elizabeth Warren.

Rendell called Planmaster Liz a "hypocrite" in a Washington Post op-ed yesterday. He also claims to like her. He thinks she's a great senator and happily co-chaired a fundraiser for her 2018 re-election campaign. But Warren the presidential candidate wants nothing to do with "high-dollar fundraising events." What makes Warren a hypocrite in Rendell's mind is that she transferred $10.4 million from her reelection fund to her presidential campaign.

RENDELL: The senator appears to be trying to have it both ways — get the political upside from eschewing donations from higher-level donors and running a grass-roots campaign, while at the same time using money obtained from those donors in 2018.

Rendell argues that Warren's big money fundraising stash gave her "a substantial head start in building a presidential-campaign staff and doing other things for which money is essential." (We have no idea why those last eight words are in that sentence.) If Warren wasn't a big phony, she would've set that money on fire or at least the half from rich people.

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We like Warren a lot and not just in the "write a critical op-ed the day before you debate our preferred candidate" kind of way. Still, it's hard to see the conflict between Warren's words and actions here. She's not opposed to money. She's a real-live capitalist. She just doesn't want to spend her political career giving shoe shines to robber barons. If an actor decides they don't want to make Marvel movies anymore, they're not morally obligated to return all their Disney dollars.

Yes, Warren did blast Joe Biden for kicking off his campaign with a "a swanky private fund-raiser for wealthy donors." However, it's not hypocrisy. It's solid political strategy. Biden wants to present himself as working-class Uncle Joe. Shattering that image by holding a mirror up to the reality is a smart move. Besides, taking the moral high ground all by yourself is a quick way to lose elections. Once Warren threw down the gauntlet, it was imperative for her to pressure her political rivals to do the same. This ain't beanbag.

Warren didn't seem to have any trouble taking our money in 2018, but suddenly we were power brokers and influence peddlers in 2019. The year before, we were wonderful. I co-chaired one of the events for the senator and received a glowing, handwritten thank-you letter from her for my hard work.

Rendell helped organize Biden's big fundraiser, so we get that he takes this personally. But the fundraising email Warren sent her supporters was primarily intended to inform them that a major player had entered the race and was raising money hand over fist. She's a nice woman who handwrites polite thank-you letters we presume only metaphorically glow. That doesn't mean she's a pushover. She's going to hit her opponents in their weak spots, as well as the even weaker spots they didn't know were there.

Warren didn't specifically call major Biden donors "power brokers and influence peddlers." One compelling argument she's made for her fundraising position is that she deliberately avoids situations where she's not expected to "keep it real." She's not going to pander or wrap her policies in a candy coating so it's easier to swallow. We don't think the wealthy are inherently bad people but their concerns are not always aligned with the majority of voters. Candidates can run the risk of playing to their audience, and this small segment of the electorate can artificially influence what they believe is feasible or worthwhile.

Rendell has trouble accurately defining "hypocrisy." He claims Barack Obama, "one of the greatest presidents in [Rendell's] lifetime," was hypocritical for refusing to accept any money from Wall Street PACs in 2008 and yet he swam in veritable vaults of golden ducats from individuals who worked for Wall Street firms. Those are literally two different things. Rendell might disagree with the distinction Obama made but it still exists. What's interesting to us is that Rendell never calls Obama a "hypocrite," like he does Warren. Obama's behavior only makes him hypocrisy-curious while Warren is a flaming hypocrite.

Nonetheless, Rendell assures us that if Senator Hypocrite wins the nomination, he will gladly support her and campaign on her behalf. He was such a great surrogate for Hillary Clinton, Warren would have to be in her right mind to refuse.

[Washington Post]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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