She took down Michael Bloomberg, raised hundreds of thousands in donations and silenced her critics. If you ever you needed an advertisement for how great of a president Warren would be, this was it.
With each passing Democratic debate this question is the one that lingers, bouncing around voters’ brains and sticking in their memories. Is there a German word for that little hit of pleasure you get from watching a political figure you despise get thoroughly roasted by his opponent, especially if that opponent is a woman? Well, there should be. Let’s call it Trumpenfreude.
Each of the Democratic debates thus far have served as an audition of sorts as to who, if given the mantle of the Democratic nominee, will be able to take their Republican opponent to task. And if last night’s debate in Nevada is any indicator the answer to that question is, without a doubt, Elizabeth Warren.
Warren, who had suffered a few campaign setbacks earlier in the year at the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, came out guns blazing. Her opening remarks were directed at Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the New York businessman with a $64.2 billion fortune to his name, who has emerged in only the past few months as a prospective candidate. Thus far, he has spent $400 million of his own money on his campaign, a campaign that is predicated almost entirely upon the idea that he can beat Trump. Policies? Who needs ‘em? Not this guy.
Thank god for Warren, then. The Senator turned the spotlight on Bloomberg and eviscerated him, calling out his past history of sexism, racism and tax evasion.
“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against: a billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and horse-faced lesbians’. And no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump,” Warren said, her timing impeccable. “I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”
“Democrats are not going to win if we have a nominee who has a history of hiding his tax returns, of harassing women,” she continued. “And of supporting racist policies like red lining and stop-and-frisk. Look, I’ll support whoever the Democratic nominee is, but understand this: Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another.”
Warren’s words, thick with righteous fury, packed an enormous punch. (No wonder, then, that an enterprising Twitter user has set it to music, as if Warren and Bloomberg were locked in a thrilling rap battle and Bloomberg is being dragged to filth.)
If this was her audition for the role of Taking Down Trump, just imagine how good her actual performance could be? Just think about what it might be like, in the yawning months between when the Democratic nominee is announced in July and the actual election on 3 November, to have Warren deliver a takedown like that right to Trump’s face?
Nobody performed better at the Nevada debate than she did. Her performance was so good that the first hour of the televised event has become her campaign’s most successful fundraising round of all time, generating some $425,000 in donations in just half an hour alone.
Warren also took aim at her other opponents in the race for the Democratic nomination, including Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. But it was Bloomberg who was her real target. Whenever he opened his mouth to defend himself, Warren hit back with another putdown, each delivered to raucous applause from the audience. Once, when Bloomberg referred to Warren somewhat condescendingly as “the senator next to me”, she turned to him and interjected: “Elizabeth”. Finally, when she challenged the former New York City Mayor to break the NDAs signed by former employees of his company who claim that they were victims of harassment, Warren had backed Bloomberg into a corner so hard he was starting to look triangular.
“None of them accuse me of doing anything other than maybe they didn’t like a joke I told,” Bloomberg said, attempting a joke.
Warren went in for the kill: “This is not just a question of the mayor’s character. This is also a question about electability,” she said. “We are not going to beat Donald Trump with a man who has who knows how many nondisclosure agreements and the drip, drip, drip of stories of women saying they have been harassed and discriminated against. That’s not what we do as Democrats.”
From a few conservative commentators, Warren’s performance attracted criticism for being “mean” and “angry”. But the vast majority of responses across social media were positive. Democrats were thrilled with Warren’s sound and her fury, with the way she made no apologies for how frustrated she was with the fact that she was being forced to share the stage with a candidate far less qualified than she was. Yes, Warren was angry. We all are.
As a tweet by writer Lacy Johnson read: “Warren is channeling the rage of every woman who is more than twice as smart and good at her job but gets less than half the recognition of men.”
You know that scene in Black Panther, when Killmonger (Michael B Jordan) soundly defeats T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) in combat? “Is this your king?” Killmonger demands, arms flung defiantly wide. That’s what Warren just did at the Nevada Democratic debate. Is Bloomberg really your nominee? Is he the one who is going to beat Trump? Are any of these others – Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg – people you would like to see up on stage at the presidential debates going toe-to-toe with Trump? Could they do what Warren just did? Is this your king?
I don’t think so. But Warren is definitely our queen.