Elizabeth Warren Calls Trump's Bluff; Trump Breaks Million-Dollar Promise

[ Posted Monday, October 15th, 2018 – 17:08 UTC ]

It's hard to see today as anything short of the unofficial launch of the 2020 presidential contest, at least on the Democratic side of the aisle. That may be either exciting or frightening (depending on your view of endless political campaigning in general), but either way it's kind of hard to deny. Because Senator Elizabeth Warren -- again, unofficially -- just threw her hat in the presidential ring, in a big way. She did so by calling President Donald Trump's bluff, which has so far resulted in yet another Trump million-dollar promise being broken.

If it seems a little dated and unusual for presidential candidates in this day and age to be questioned about what degree of whiteness they possess in their genes, well, that's because it is. A century ago and more, such a thing was paramount, of course, since in the Deep South even "one drop" of African-American blood in your family tree made you automatically "black," no matter what your genetic makeup said otherwise. This was a very big deal, back then, to certain people. There were even words used to describe the proportion of white blood to black blood any individual possessed (look up "quadroon" and "octoroon" in a good dictionary).

You'd think that in the year 2018 we'd be beyond such hair-splitting, but apparently we're not. Not with Donald Trump in charge. But in an unusual twist, he's not questioning an opponent because of some secret non-white genetic history, instead he's questioning a claim of non-whiteness because he doesn't believe that Senator Elizabeth Warren's family stories about having Native American ancestry are true. So it's no longer "you're not white enough," but instead "you're totally white, I don't believe you have any other ancestry." This, it should be pointed out, is not exactly progress in racial harmony.

Warren's family history has assumed epic proportions on the right. Warren initially related a story which had been passed down through the generations of her own family -- that she had a Native American ancestor, six generations back. Long after she became a college professor, someone at the university where she worked sent around a form for employees to mark their personal ancestry. Warren checked the "Native American" box. She stated that she never did so on any admissions form or during any job interview or anything like that -- this was long after she had been hired, and even longer after she had attended college as a student. As with many family histories, she had no actual written proof, but it really didn't matter because she was not in any way attempting to use this claim for any sort of professional advancement. It was just family lore, plain and simple.

Once Warren rose to prominence as a politician, however, the right-wingers went apoplectic about this claim. In their eyes, white people are a terribly oppressed minority and any actual minority in America -- especially in academia -- probably used "affirmative action" to get where they are, for obvious reasons (to white supremacists). So they heard Warren's story and immediately leapt to several conclusions, without a shred of evidence to back any of them up. First, she obviously had been using the Native American designation all along, probably from the first college application she ever filled out. By doing so, she was baldly lying about her ancestry, since she is so obviously pure Caucasian (no matter how high her cheekbones may be, in other words). She was being sneaky and falsely claiming to be a minority so she could get ahead, probably because she couldn't do so on her own merits.

Warren herself was initially downright astonished at the entire controversy. She had done none of what her detractors were claiming, and while she had no physical evidence of her family history, why would she lie about it? Why would her parents lie about it to her as a small child? What would have been the point? It made no sense.

Then Donald Trump got in on the act. Warren has long been a thorn in conservatives' sides, first by championing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, then by successfully becoming a senator, then as a possible 2020 presidential contender. This gave rise to a much more personal attack -- Warren was "Pocahontas," according to Trump, likely because that's the only female Native American name he knew. If you study the life of the actual Pocahontas (not the Disney version), it's hard to even understand why this is meant to be a slur, but whatever. Trump loves demeaning nicknames, and he thought he had come up with a winner. He actually didn't think this one up on his own, it had been around for a while before he came on the scene (together with derivatives such as "Fauxcahontas"). He's been using it as a taunt ever since, most memorably in front of Native American World War II code-talkers (which should have been highly embarrassing for Trump, if he were actually capable of being embarrassed).

Trump's been ramping this up in the past few months, since he's now got his eye on his own re-election campaign. He started issuing a challenge directly to Warren -- that if she took a DNA test and it showed she had Native American ancestry, he would donate a cool million bucks to a charity of her choosing. It was a line he started using at rallies, because the crowd loved it so much. He even talked about the possibility of debating her (which would only happen if she won the Democratic presidential nomination, showing that Trump is actually worried about this prospect) and during the debate tossing her one of the at-home DNA test kits as a physical challenge. He thought it was pretty funny, obviously.

Today, Elizabeth Warren released the results of a DNA analysis she had voluntarily undergone. It showed exactly what she had been claiming all along -- that she likely had a pure Native American ancestor anywhere from six to ten generations back. So, of course, Trump graciously cut a check for the charity she named, one dedicated to preventing violence against Native American women.

[Pause for laughter to subside.]

Of course, that didn't actually happen. Trump has suddenly become quite forgetful about the challenge he issued only a few months back. He's now claiming he never actually said the words that were recorded at the time. He's on audio and video daring Warren to take a DNA test, and promising a million-dollar payout to her charity if she can prove what she's claimed all along. Now, though, Trump insists he never issued such a challenge (this could soon change, to be fair -- it has only been a few short hours since Warren went public with the results). So far, though, Trump is breaking his million-dollar promise.

Warren, of course, is getting some of her own back at Trump on Twitter, taunting him for not ponying up after she called his bluff. But beyond the personal social media spat, the bigger picture is that this is nothing short of Warren declaring that she's running for president in 2020. Of course, any official announcement of such a candidacy will have to wait until after the midterms are over, but make no mistake about it, Warren is going to run.

Not only has she been building up a national network of supporters and donors, which has included making campaign stops for all sorts of Democratic candidates from coast to coast, but she's also launching a pre-emptive defense against the ancestry issue before her campaign even begins. In grand style. She not only released the DNA analysis, she also released a video of her talking to the professor who did the analysis, which (for good measure) also had statements from people at her former university debunking the whole "she must have been an affirmative action fraudster" conspiracy theory. She did not ever use her ancestry to get ahead, and nobody's ever had any proof that she did -- for the simple reason that it never happened.

The video, more than anything else, proves she's definitely running for president. It is a very professional video, but more to the point she's already won Senate elections in Massachusetts without having to prove her family lore. Which means she could likely (and very easily) do so again. But, as Donald Trump has shown, if she ran for national office, then Republicans would once again attempt to make a gigantic issue out of their own conspiracy theories. What is it with Democrats having to now not only prove where they were born but also their family's DNA structure back six generations? Has any Republican endured such scrutiny, ever? Well, maybe back when everyone knew what "quadroon" meant, but not so much in the last 50 years or so.

The shift from "prove you are 100 percent white" to "prove that you have minority ancestry, because I actually believe that you are 100 percent white" is not, as I mentioned, a giant leap forward in racial relations. What it really boiled down to was Trump accusing Warren of being a liar and a cheat. Warren has now proven she is neither. Although, if Trump continues to refuse to make the million-dollar donation he promised to a charity of Warren's choice, the whole episode might just prove that Donald Trump is both a liar and a cheat. Not that anyone really needed any proof of either of those things, at this point. But it'd sure be a dandy issue for a possible Trump presidential challenger to be making, as a Trumpian-style taunt out on the campaign trail. After all, it would only serve him right.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


12 Comments on “Elizabeth Warren Calls Trump's Bluff; Trump Breaks Million-Dollar Promise”

  1. [1] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    C.W … Nice... " What is it with Democrats having to now not only prove where they were born but also their family's DNA structure back six generations? Has any Republican endured such scrutiny, ever?"

    It's as simple as you say(ish), the GOP seem to be tethered to the one (two, if you include a lust for power, god and cash), thing... Bigotry.

    Tbh, I'm flabbergasted at the mere mention of 'a woman of substance' acquiring both academic and professional acclaim based on anything other than ability and hard work. Coming from a family of women academics, I just don't have exposure to women I don't consider my equals. One only has to understand the original premise of 'Coronation Street' to get why, in my culture, women are up to any challenge of a man, while still raising a brood of kids.

    We have two world wars to thank for that.

    Hillary Clinton may have had a 'glass ceiling'. Trump has a glass house. One only has to flip back two generations to find a sleazy draft dodging whorehouse owner and a war profiteer and tax evader...

    It can never be said that Trump doesn't, at least, come by his repellent character honestly.


  2. [2] 
    James T Canuck wrote:


    Warren isn't a good choice to throw at Trump in 2020, we already know that a complete arsehole like Trump is preferable to any eminently qualified in the eyes of the American electorate.

    The notion that Trump mentions her (and therefore is worried about her) is part of his 'tell'. Trump doesn't draw too much attention to the things foremost on his mind. He likes to distract, prevaricate and delude...Notice how Cohen, Manafort and especially the SDNY has fallen from Trump's national agenda?

    Plus, we all know Trump will shrink back from this latest Saudi act of heinousness, because we all know the Saudi's business model... overwhelm with bribery, then negotiate on their terms. I wasn't surprised Trump made a B-line for the kingdom as president, if anyone is up for easy cash in exchange for a few 'pork pies', it's Trump, to be sure.


  3. [3] 
    TheStig wrote:

    I have a hunch Trump is carrying more than an average American's amount of Neanderthal DNA. God loves a good joke. Replace God with Fate if you are an atheist.

    Take the test Trump!...and pay your 1M$ gambling debt.


  4. [4] 
    TheStig wrote:


    Trump will never reveal his own DNA data. Too chicken. Cuck-cuck-cuck!

  5. [5] 
    Paula wrote:


    In honor of Stormy Daniels, I will now cease referring to DJT as "Blotus" and begin calling him "Tiny".

    h/t TheStig: "Blotus" had a good run! One of your best!

  6. [6] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    my quatloos are on cory booker. while i would love for warren to be president, i agree with JTC that if she were the nominee the US would probably choose a second term of trump, which i would not love.

  7. [7] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    what I've found most interesting about the debate about Warren's ancestry are the dissenting voices from the Native American community who have rushed to the cameras to find fault with Warren for proving the only assertion that she ever made - that an ancestor might have been Native American.

    In an op-ed written Oct. 3 (before Warren released her DNA test), activist Rebecca Nagle describes some of the many ways in which the Trump administration has managed to include Native Americans in its general attack on American minorities:

    "The politics of who is and who is not Indian has real consequences. Last month in Warren’s home state of Massachusetts, the Mashpee Wampanoag — the tribe that welcomed the Pilgrims — had their land taken out of trust because, according to the Department of the Interior, they no longer fit the legal definition of “Indian.” While the Mashpee Wampanoag are fighting for their treaty rights, a white man is suing the state of Washington to grant him status as a minority business owner based on the results of his DNA test. He tested as only 6 percent Indigenous.

    The Trump administration’s action against the Wampanoag is the first time tribal land has been taken out of trust since Harry Truman’s presidency. Since taking office, Donald Trump has also moved to limit Medicaid access to Native Americans, diminished the Bears Ears National Monument, greenlighted the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the treaty rights of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and suggested privatizing all remaining tribal land. Natives need an ally in the White House."

    Keep that last sentence in mind as you read the rest of this.

    Also part of that Op-ed was this paragraph:

    "The issue with Warren is not that she isn’t on any rolls, that her nonexistent blood quantum is too low, that she can’t pass a DNA test or that we lack information about her family. The issue is that she claims to have a Native ancestor when there are none."

    So what does Nagle have to say now that Warren has proven that her family story was correct? Well, she's been tweeting:

    "Since when did the Left become champions of pseudo science about the inherent biology of race? #ElizabethWarren relying on DNA test results is extremely problematic given our current political climate."

    But Nagle specifically cited Warren's supposed 'failure' to 'pass' a DNA test.

    Then she tweets:

    "While #ElizabethWarren no longer identifies herself as Native, she still publicly claims her family is “part Native American”. There is nothing innocent about a White woman claiming her family experienced genocide and ethnic cleansing--when they did not."

    This is when you know that someone has lost an argument, when they start knocking down straw men to make their case. Warren hasn't to my knowledge made those claims, and even if she had, what proof would Nagle have that Warren's ancestor hadn't had a brush with genocide? If europeans were around, so were weapons and smallpox.

    Sad to say, the actual motivation behind Nagle's rejection of Warren may not actually be anything that Warren has said at all:

    Rebecca Nagle @rebeccanagle
    2h2 hours ago

    This is why this debate NEEDS TO STOP. The racist vitriol isn't targeted at #ElizabethWarren and it CANNOT be because she is WHITE. Its targeted at actual Native people. #NativeTwitter

    I get it. This is what tribal politics really is. Native Americans have gotten a raw deal, one of the worst, but even that sad history doesn't mean that only certified Native Americans get to acknowledge their Native American ancestry. Nagle and others who would assert that Warren has failed their purity test have to answer to their fellow tribe members whey they aren't rather using this as an opportunity to make Warren an ally, something that I'm sure she's willing to do. The only real skill in politics is finding commonalities among people that aren't at all alike, and making common cause.

  8. [8] 
    Balthasar wrote:
  9. [9] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    From what I have read on other message boards, the Cherokee Tribe has long taken issue with Harvard promoting that Warren was their first Native American female on staff. Warren disclosed this AFTER she was already on staff, so it isn’t like she was hired because of her heritage. It does, however, sound like it was the school administration’s attempt to play up her heritage that got the tribe pissed.

  10. [10] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    I heard that senator warren intentionally misrepresented her so-called family pie recipe. she said it was passed down from her six times removed grandmother, but in fact it was a powdered pie mix. i will only vote for genuine pro-pie candidates, and so should you.

  11. [11] 
    Kick wrote:


    I heard that Senator Warren intentionally misrepresented her so-called family lemonade recipe. She said it was passed down from her six times removed grandmother, but in fact it was a powdered lemonade mix. I will only vote for genuine pro-lemonade candidates, and so should you.

    If you agree, send $200 or less -- and not a penny more or you're a Big Money Satan Hitler Worshipper -- to pro-lemonade candidates. Also, since there are none in existence, write in "Don Lemon" for every office on your ballot.

    CW: Why haven't you written about my lemonade venture yet? I can do this as long as you can. Ralph Tater said so. :)

  12. [12] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    Did you read Dana Millbank’s article in WAPO about that? I normally like his articles, but that was the dumbest thing I have ever read! I kept thinking that it was just bad sarcasm on his part, but I think he was serious when he said that she is unfit for office because of some pie recipe!

    kick [12]

    LOVED IT! Loved every word of it!

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