It's Not Easy, but Please Try to Endure the Suspense of Warren's 'Listening Tour'

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Elizabeth Warren is conducting a "listening tour" in Massachusetts as she wrestles with the question, "Do I see a United States senator when I look in the mirror?"

Warren, a Harvard Law professor who was President Obama's unconfirmable choice to head the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, (Republican poohbahs in D.C. hate her), has also formed an exploratory committee to raise funds for a "possible challenge" to Scott Brown.

"Elizabeth has spent the last week listening to people from across the Commonwealth as she considers a campaign for U.S. Senate," said Kyle Sullivan, her spokesman. (Yes, she already has a paid mouthpiece.) "She wants to continue this conversation and the exploratory committee will assist her in doing so."

There are almost as many artificial devices in politics as there are in Orlando, Florida, and one of the greatest (and most harmless) of these has to be the listening tour.

A would-be candidate descends, with entourage, on a small town and pretends for a few minutes that his future is being decided then and there by the Average Joes on Main Street: the dog catcher, hair stylist, store clerk, letter carrier, local crank or curmudgeon.

Or the would-be candidate appears in someone's living room after supper one night to introduce himself to a hand-picked audience of sympathetic neighbors and activists from whatever party the "listener" happens to belong to.

Do you think we'll ever see the day when someone returns from a listening tour, calls a press conference, and announces, "People think I'm a jerk. I better not run. I'd get killed."

There is some potential real value in a listening tour, I guess. If the would-be candidate finds he can't handle the softball questions in those living rooms, for example, he might decide that campaigning wasn't his cup of tea and return quietly to the private sector.

Professor Warren, as you would imagine, is having no difficulties in those rooms filled with Dems who want Brown gone from The People's Seat.

The chances are higher that I will compete in this Saturday's Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Boston Harbor than Elizabeth Warren will decide not to run for the senate at the end of her listening tour.

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