Elizabeth Warren has an honesty problem. Now before we dig into this, I want to make a distinction between dishonesty and lies. Being dishonest is any time one is not straightforward with the truth, whereas a lie is a statement made that knowingly contradicts a truth. Every lie is therefore dishonest. However, by simply omitting the truth, one can be untruthful. Ergo, all lies are dishonest, but not all dishonesties are lies.
Let’s start with the most famous of Elizabeth Warren’s dabbles with deceit. Warren has long claimed to be of Native American dissent. So much so, that in October of 2018, at the challenge of President Trump, Warren revealed that she did possess a maximum possibility of 1/1024 Native American. I say possibility, because testing going that far back joins North and South American heritage, including Caribbean Islands. For the record, “maybe 1/1024th” does not a heritage make. The problem here would be if she used this lie to her advantage. And this question becomes more obvious when discussing her tenure in Harvard Law School.
According to Real Clear Politics, in the early 1990s, Harvard came under scrutiny for not having enough women and minorities at high-level positions. Harvard brought in a number of professors to remove this accusation. From the years 1995-2011, Harvard made repeated claims that Warren was their first female professor of color. Since 2011, all of that has been removed. So one of two things happened here. Either Harvard decided that Warren was Native American to cover for their lack of diversity, or Warren lied on her application. Harvard has decided to not show Warren’s application, and seems determined to keep it that way. However, in February of this year, we received the first inclination that Warren used her Native American heritage claims on a publicly available document. Warren’s Texas state bar registration card surfaced, wherein Warren listed her race as “American Indian.” To date, this is the only publicly available record that shows her using American Indian as her race. I, for one, would love to see her college applications, SAT scores, and job applications to see if there are any other places where this exists. This issue stands somewhere in between a lie and a dishonesty for Warren. She may be lying about using her faux ancestry to her advantage, but we don’t really have proof of that. At the very least, she has been dishonest about her ancestry in the past.
Moving on to something more recent. Throughout this presidential campaign, Warren has championed a single-payer Medicare for All plan. However, as pointed out by Pete Buttigieg and literally everyone on the right, Warren has refused to explain how she will pay for such a plan. This is extremely odd for a candidate who claims to have a plan for everything. In fact, “Warren Has A Plan For That” is the name of her online store. So it’s pretty odd that the person who claims to have a plan for everything refuses to give up her plan for one of her campaign’s central ideas. The answer is obvious. She’s going to raise taxes. Not only on the wealthiest among us, but all the way through the middle class. This is obviously a very unpopular position to take, so she’s just not taking the position. This is a clear example of a dishonesty. She’s definitely not lying about her plan; she just refuses to tell the truth, and chooses to say nothing instead.
But the most recent and probably the most damning bit of dishonesty is an actual lie. For much of her political career, Warren has been telling her story of how she ended up in law school and eventually in politics. Back in 1971, Warren was an aspiring educator as a speech therapist in Riverdale, New Jersey. Warren’s current claim is that she was fired from that position for being visibly pregnant. The firing turned out well for Warren as she changed career paths and now is (in my estimation) the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
However, this account is completely fabricated. Multiple sources including CBS News obtained minutes from the Riverdale school board. The June 16, 1971, minutes state: “The resignation of Mrs. Elizabeth, speech correctionist effective June 30,1971 was accepted with regret.” In previous meetings, Warren’s name came up a few times, most notably the one in April of 1971 approving her hours for the following school year. But maybe we can’t trust these minutes from the school board. Perhaps Warren is telling truth. Warren’s daughter, Amelia, was born in September. By the April meeting, Warren was only four months pregnant, and by the time June hit, Warren, now being six months pregnant, would be more visibly showing. Maybe this caused the board to renege on their initial offer to extend Warren’s career as an educator.
The fact that the minutes say “with regret” is easily dismissed by the fact that in those same minutes, several other employees’ resignations were accepted “with regret.” That just seems to be the standard way of notating resignations. And the fact that it was a resignation at all can be dismissed with the notion that despite it not being illegal at the time to do so, the school board was just covering up their evil decision to fire a pregnant woman. Despite two local papers (The News from Paterson and The Herald-News from Passaic) reporting on the story as Warren resigning for personal reasons, maybe these documents can be questioned. To whom, then, can we look to provide an account of what actually happened to set the record straight between the Riverdale school board and two newspapers and Elizabeth Warren?
How about Elizabeth Warren?
In a 2007 interview produced by the University of California, Berkeley, warren related the same story: “My first year post-graduation, I worked – it was in a public school system, but I worked with the children with disabilities. And I did that for a year. And then that summer – I actually didn’t have the education courses, so I was on an ‘emergency certificate,’ it was called.” All of this information is detailed in the minutes from the Riverdale school board meetings throughout 1970-71. Warren continues that she “went back to graduate school and took a couple of courses in education and said, ‘I don’t think this is going to work out for me.’ And I was pregnant with my first baby. So, I had a baby and stayed home for a couple of years, and I was really casting about, thinking, ‘What am I going to do?’” Notice anything missing? Like a key detail? Right. Warren leaves out the whole part where she was fired for being pregnant. This account of the story jives completely with the Riverdale school board minutes as well as the two subsequent newspaper reports.
This may sound obvious, but when you tell a story that didn’t happen, that is a lie. Not only is this a lie, but it’s the second time we have on record that Warren has used an inaccurate detail about her own life to form a narrative about herself. She used her fake Native American heritage to play the embattled minority, and she used the fired pregnant lady story to play the oppressed woman. She is not now, nor has she ever been, either of those things.
One thing Elizabeth Warren can be identified as is dishonest. And dishonesty is extremely important for a Democratic candidate in this election specifically. I think we all understand that politicians are rarely genuine people. Much of what you see in public is a façade of the real person (ironically, except for President Trump; that’s probably exactly who he is), and we all understand that we have to take everything a politician says with varying sized grains of salt. However, in a year where the Democrats are focusing so heavily on the dishonesty and lies coming out of the White House, can they afford to nominate someone who has so brashly and repeatedly been proven to be dishonest? If they do, they lose the entire honesty argument, and to be honest, I don’t think that’s a fight they can afford to lose.
Izzo Zwiren is the host of The Jewish Living Podcast, where he and his guests delve into any and all areas of Orthodox Judaism.