WASHINGTON – Not long ago, we encouraged Elizabeth Warren to stop digging herself into a hole. She’s still digging.
First, the Senate candidate from Massachusetts spent a month insisting that she hadn’t known that Harvard Law School had listed her as a Native American in a faculty directory until she read news reports about it. This past week, she reignited the controversy by acknowledging that she had, in fact, formally informed both Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania of her heritage shortly after being hired by them.
Her campaign explained the discrepancy in her public statements as a memory issue, arguing that Warren had struggled to recall the details of whom she told what and when. Then a detailed examination that she had requested from her campaign came back, concluding that she had formally told Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania about her ancestry.
In a classic “wag the dog”-ism, Warren issued a statement Thursday denouncing her Republican opponent, Sen. Scott Brown, for allegedly sullying the good name of her deceased parents. Brown, when asked about Warren’s Native American heritage, which she said she heard about from her mother, had remarked: “My mom and dad have told me a lot of things too, but they’re not always true.” Not super-smart on Brown’s part, but by no means worthy of the outrage Warren mustered.
Whether and when Warren made clear to her employers that she is Native American is a decidedly tiny issue in a campaign likely to be dominated by jobs and the economy. But her ham-handedness in dealing with it should be an early warning to Democrats expecting her to coast to a victory over Brown this fall.
Chris Cillizza is an American political reporter for The Washington Post.