Anyone who has followed Elizabeth Warren’s career has seen that her meteoric rise mirrors in many ways those of Barrack Obama. Once a professor at Harvard Law School, Warren has over the past decade launched herself into the national spotlight, jumping from the oversight panel overseeing the TARP bailout program to the predecessor of the CFPB and on to the US Senate. And despite her protestations that she isn’t running for President, the continued publicity of many of her statements has identified her as a potential front-runner for the Democratic nomination.
Warren has also come in for much grief from President Trump, who famously refers to her derisively as “Pocahontas” for her claim of Native American ancestry. Trump even challenged Warren to take a DNA test and, if she could prove that she had Native American ancestry, he would donate a million dollars to charity. Here’s where things start to get tricky.
It’s scientifically impossible to prove whether someone is Native American just based on a DNA test. For one thing, not enough Native Americans have provided their DNA to allow for a comprehensive genetic database that can identify Native American markers. Secondly, because of the nature of DNA testing it is possible for a person who is 7/8 Native American or even 31/32 Native American to be shown as non-Native on a DNA test because that one non-Native ancestor happened to be in the right place of the family tree to pass on the DNA screened by the test.
Warren may not have been aware of this, so she went ahead and got a DNA test. The results stated that she had some Native ancestry, most likely coming from an ancestor 6-10 generations ago. Warren trumpeted those results, but wasn’t prepared for the fallout. It almost makes one wonder if President Trump didn’t intentionally set her up to look like a fool.
For one thing, the results of the test blew out of the water claims Warren had previously made regarding her heritage, such as that her parents had to elope because of her mother’s obvious Native heritage, or her insistence during her time as a professor on being labeled as Native American. That also brought back to light her contribution of supposed Native American family recipes to a cookbook called “Pow Wow Chow,” which recipes were found to have been plagiarized from the New York Times and other publications. Warren also angered Native American leaders who have long been opposed to DNA testing of Natives, preferring to base tribal membership on tribal rules of eligibility such as documentation and historical tradition.
With such a major faux pas and tone-deaf response to Trump, has Warren killed her chances of ever running for President? It may not completely derail her chances, but it certainly presents her with a large, and self-inflicted, hurdle that she’ll have to overcome. It allows for attacks from both President Trump and from leftist primary candidates who can decry her engaging in “cultural appropriation.” Since Warren had been seen as one of the strongest possible candidates to challenge President Trump, this may make his re-election bid a little easier by getting one of his major rivals out of the way already.