Elizabeth Warren – Too Partisan?

by A. Jay Adler on July 27, 2010
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from The New York Times

“A lot of us are terrified about what happens in rule-making,” said Stephen Lerner of the Service Employees International Union, which is pressing the administration to nominate Ms. Warren. “Symbolically, it does seem incredibly important to pick somebody who not only invented the idea, but someone who doesn’t claim to be a neutral.”

Bankers oppose her nomination for exactly that reason. Roger M. Beverage, head of the Oklahoma Bankers Association, said that Ms. Warren was widely respected in Oklahoma, where she was raised and is still remembered as a high school debate champion. But he said that his members did not believe she would understand the needs and concerns of community banks.

“Not that she’s not competent. Goodness gracious, I would never say that. She’s exceptionally bright. We just fear what she might come up with,” Mr. Beverage said. “She’s a partisan and she’s bull-headed and she’s opinionated. And she’s terrific. She’s a great advocate. We just respectfully disagree with her view of the world.” [Emphasis added]

The name of the new agency is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Would not “neutral” and “partisan” here be like the chair of the United States Commission on Civil Rights being neutral or too partisan about civil rights?

Just wondering.

AJA

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3 comments

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James July 28, 2010 at 9:40 am

Actually, Megan McArdle is the one who doesn’t understand rudimentary math. McArdle summarily misquotes and misrepresents Warren’s academic work in this article you’re posting. That’s why it’s been widely criticized as being misleading and simply fallacious:

RJ Escow deconstructs Megan McArdle – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/elizabeth-warren-and-her_b_659797.html

Mike Konczal deconstructs Megan McArdle – http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/megan-mcardles-hack-post-on-elizabeth-warrens-scholarship/

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A. Jay Adler July 28, 2010 at 4:27 pm

James, thanks for those links. Both offer incisive analysis of where McArdle goes terribly, often fundamentally wrong. It is always fascinating at moments like this – a pending nomination – how a highly qualified “partisan” becomes suddenly incompetent – at everything: her scholarship, management, even not terribly advanced math. Now Warren is the Peter Principle with a Harvard professorship. Most people, of course, won’t have the inclination or expertise to examine these specialized arguments themselves, but the doubt will have been cast. McArdle simply, consistently, fails to impress as a thinker. For instance, on the matter of tenure she argues,

When an academic starts pushing the tenure model for anywhere outside academia, I will find their defense of its use in academia more convincing.

This is a characteristically obtuse argument. Federal judgeships have a form of tenure, and there is a specific argument in favor (agree or not): immunity from political pressures. There are specific arguments in favor of academic tenure at the college and university level – they are hardly new, to say the least – but McArdle is more comfortable generalizing according to her philosophical predisposition rather than analyzing the specific case.

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ShrinkWrapped July 27, 2010 at 5:25 pm

The biggest problem with Warren is not that she is partisan (as noted that is to be expected) but that she apparently doesn’t understand rudimentary math. Take a look at Megan McArdle’s posts on the topic:
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2010/07/considering-elizabeth-warren-the-scholar/60211/
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2010/07/more-weird-metrics-for-elizabeth-warren/60351/

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