Friday, September 23, 2011

A Tale of Two Species

Elizabeth Warren, 62 and Michele Bachmann, 55 are American women of the same generation, but they live on different planets.

As Bachmann grows more desperate in the GOP race to fire up the fringe of the Tea Party, Warren emerges in Massachusetts to remind Americans of their traditional values.

“If there was any election when we conservatives don’t settle,” Bachmann warns about her “radical” opponents, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, ”it’s this election. This is the election where we can have it all. Don’t settle!”

By contrast, Warren starts a senatorial campaign with a rebuke of class warfare and a reminder of the social contract that has served America well for over two centuries in a video that has gone viral.

"No,” she tells a living room of people. “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.

"You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did."

"Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."

Warren, a Harvard professor who set up Congress’ oversight panel for financial regulation, has been on Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world for the past two years.

“To restore some basic sanity to the financial system,” she told Congress, “we need two central changes: fix broken consumer-credit markets and end guarantees for the big players that threaten our entire economic system. If we get those two key parts right, we can still dial the rest of the regulation up and down as needed. But if we don't get those two right, I think the game is over.”

If Elizabeth Warren were to win the Senate race next year, there would be at least one strong voice for sanity in Washington, no matter who is in the White House.

It won’t be Bachmann, but she is part of the pack that has conservative William Kristol reacting with “Yikes!” over “the mediocrity of the field” and its “wackiness” in last night’s debate.

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