Looks like Barney Frank is trying to goad the White House into nominating Elizabeth Warren to head the new consumer agency. Interesting, because that's the second time in 24 hours that we've seen Democrats challenge the White House
March 22, 2011

Looks like Barney Frank is trying to goad the White House into nominating Elizabeth Warren to head the new consumer agency. Interesting, because that's the second time in 24 hours that we've seen Democrats challenge the White House unwillingness to pick a fight (the other is with the new proposed legislation that raises taxes on those earning a million or more per year):

President Obama may not be willing to endure the ideological battle that would result from nominating Elizabeth Warren to head the new consumer protection agency, a top Democrat said Monday.

Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.), who co-authored the law creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said that if she were nominated, Warren might not be confirmed to head the agency. While Frank argued that's a fight worth having, he cautioned that the president might disagree.

"I think the president is too unwilling to make the kind of fights that don't necessarily win. And I'm not sure she couldn't be [confirmed]," he said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program.

Frank's comments could add pressure on the administration to nominate Warren, a consumer advocate and Harvard Law School professor who is currently serving as a White House adviser.

Warren is a favorite of liberal lawmakers and activists, who say she would hold financial institutions accountable, and currently works as a special adviser helping to establish the new agency. The White House has not yet selected a nominee to permanently lead the CFPB, and some lawmakers — like Frank — are still pushing for Warren.

"She's an enormously popular, very thoughtful woman," Frank said.

[...] Frank said it's possible she could win confirmation.

"The Republican Party is united against healthcare, united against the environment. They are not united against financial reform," he said. "The Tea Party people did not send people to Washington to defend derivatives.

"I think the fight over Elizabeth Warren would be worth having and I'm not sure how all the Republican senators would vote."

Yves at Naked Capitalism begs to differ:

The reactions to Warren, both on the right and left, are becoming divorced from reality. She has assumed iconic status as a lone mediagenic figure in the officialdom who reliably speaks out for the average person, a Joan of Arc for the little guy. And she drives the right crazy because she is rock solid competent and plays their game better than they do. She sticks to simple, compelling soundbites and images without the benefit of Roger Ailes and Madison Avenue packaging, and she speaks to an even broader constituency, Americans done wrong by the banks, than they target. No wonder they want to burn her at the stake.

But the shadow she is casting is much larger than her current and prospective power. And as we have indicated, the policy she has allowed to become associated with her name, namely, the mortgage fraud settlement, does not serve her or the public at large well.

I want to stress that Warren did a great job at the Congressional Oversight Panel, by taking a post that was likely to amount to a hill of beans and using it to serve as a watchdog of the public’s interest. And I have no doubt that everything she has done since then has been to try to advance causes she very much believes in. But as the old saying goes, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

[...] Have we heard zip from Warren, save when she’s been trotted out to serve as a punching bag for dyspeptic Congresscritters? She’s been effectively leashed and collared by being made an advisor and Treasury employee. In theory, taking that post still could have advanced her aims if she was prepared to be bloody minded about it. Her real power lies in her access to media; she’d have more even in an ambiguous role in the Administration than back as a Harvard law professor. And if she was deemed to be too out of line, what could they do? Fire her? That would further enhance her stature and embarrass the Administration.

But it appears the powers that be judged her character correctly, in that Warren is apparently unwilling to take on a powerful bureaucracy. it instead appears she’s acceded to what appears to be a minor-sounding but effective Team Obama threat, that if you are not a “team player”, you get excluded from meetings and decisions. But the part she evidently misses is she’d be able to do more to influence those decisions as a semi or actual outsider using a bully pulpit than from the inside.

And what does this say for her defenders? Talent and being on the side of right count for very little when the cards are badly stacked against you. Unfortunately, her supporters, in wanting to buck her up in a quixotic battle, are also either backing or giving a free pass to the absurd mortgage “settlement” that is now being bandied about (see a long-form critique here). Whatever evil genius fobbed Tom Miller, the head of the 50 state attorneys general effort, off on Warren knew exactly what he was doing.

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