Warren — at the time a Harvard law professor — recounted how, in the 1990s, she wrote an editorial opposing a proposed piece of legislation tightening bankruptcy laws. Warren explained that it would disproportionately hurt single mothers. Hillary Clinton, at the time the first lady, read the editorial, and asked for a meeting with Warren. The meeting went well; Warren said she “never had a smarter student.” Afterward, Clinton returned to Washington and, according to her biography, persuaded Bill Clinton to veto the legislation.
But when Hillary Clinton was elected to the Senate and another version of the same bill came to the floor, she did an about face:
ELIZABETH WARREN: She voted in favor of it.
BILL MOYERS: Why?
ELIZABETH WARREN: As Senator Clinton, the pressures are very different. It’s a well-financed industry. You know a lot of people don’t realize that the industry that gave the most money to Washington over the past few years was not the oil industry, was not pharmaceuticals. It was consumer credit products. Those are the people. The credit card companies have been giving money, and they have influence.
BILL MOYERS: And Mrs. Clinton was one of them as senator.
ELIZABETH WARREN: She has taken money from the groups, and more to the point, she worries about them as a constituency.
BILL MOYERS: But what does this mean though to these people, these millions of people out there whom the politicians cavort in front of as favoring the middle class, and then are beholden to the powerful interests that undermine the middle class? What does this say about politics today?
ELIZABETH WARREN: You know this is the scary part about democracy today. It’s… We’re talking again about the impact of money. The credit industry on this bankruptcy bill has spent tens of millions of dollars lobbying, and as their profits grow, they just throw more into lobbying for how they can get laws that will make it easier and easier and easier to drain money out of the pockets of middle class families.
Warren is so smart. I wonder what the pros and cons are in her decision process about endorsement. I'd love to know.