walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Elizabeth Warren, _A Fighting Chance_

Possible presidential candidates often produce memoirs in the years before actually beginning to campaign in earnest (this is in addition to things like becoming a Senator, Governor, Vice-President or spouse of same. I suppose I should mention Mayor, Representative or Very Rich and/or Famous Person, because they run for President, too, they just have a comparatively horrible rate of success). Partly because it is 2014, and thus the election season before the next Presidential year (in which, further, the current incumbent will not be eligible to run again) and partly Just Because, I am reading some of these. Also, I'm a Warren fan: I liked _Two Income Trap_, I loved _All Your Worth_, I vote for her whenever she's on a ballot I'm voting and I like watching her be interviewed.

Warren has been working on her media presentation for over two decades; she knows how to do it. She starts with her family's background, presents her youth and young adulthood, including her divorce, straightforwardly: full of love and acknowledgement of less-than-optimal decision making without rancor or sentiment and always with a view to the context in which decisions were made. She moves through her second marriage and career with dispatch and an emphasis on the importance of kinship despite her many moves: Oklahoma, Texas, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts. Her values are presented crisply and without reservation, and she is forthright in acknowledging that her style -- populist and often dogmatic -- is not always received well. She is unapologetic, while constantly trying to improve her sense of humor and connection to others, and tries to find common ground with those she disagrees with, even when they are expecting otherwise.

I had not realized (or remembered, if I ever knew) she had been appearing on TV as early as the 1990s (Today show). I read _The Two-Income Trap_ around 1999 or so as part of a larger reading project about unemployment and early retirement; I was hooked and kept coming back for more and looking for further appearances, so I remembered her appearance on the Dr. Phil show.

The post-crash work doing oversight on TARP and her successful efforts to establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau were things that I watched happen on TV -- I distinctly remember TRMS covering some of the things mentioned in passing in the book, and obvs I was in Massachusetts during the successful Senate run against Scott Brown. Throughout this process, I've been converting from I Want a Woman President Must Elect Hillary to, wow, what am I gonna do if Clinton and Warren are both in the primary in 2016 to, damn, I think I would have to vote for Warren. The work that Warren describes doing has seemed incredibly important to me at the time and in retrospect and she is careful to share credit throughout the book, while not covering her light under a bushel basket.

Also, even having watched the whole thing happen in slow motion, complete with endless fund raising emails and phone calls and having yard signs in my front yard, I still found her description of the campaign to be interesting, even weirdly suspenseful.

Short form: read it. She's a great woman, whether she ever runs for President or not, and whether she wins or not. Her life, her work and her values make a great story.

After discussing this with a good friend and my husband, I've decided I'll embark on a mid-term reading project. I've pre-ordered Cuomo's _All Things Possible_, Gillespie's _The New Black Politician_ (which isn't actually a memoir, but is, in part, about Cory Booker), Gillibrand's _Off the Sidelines_, and I'll be watching for McCaskill (which should have some awesomeness about Todd "legitimate rape" Akin) and Klobuchar (who has more than one book to her credit already, both of which look sort of tempting altho aren't really relevant for this project. This list created in part by the CS Monitor's possible field of candidates should HRC choose not to run. McCaskill -- who backed Obama early -- has already declared for Clinton, which I have a somewhat cynical take on (what a great way to corral support from both wings of the party, amirite?) and I'm not a huge McCaskill fan, but she -is- a very effective centrist which cannot really be overrated.

It's hard for me to seriously think about reading memoirs by Republican candidates, but I may try _Can't Is Not an Option_, because in my ideal world, we'd be voting for a woman whether we were voting Republican or Democrat, in this cycle or one sometime Real Soon Now.

Next up, however, is probably _Forcing the Spring_ or maybe Piketty. Haven't decided, which means playing iOS games or looking around for trashy genre fiction may well win out.
Tags: book review, politics
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