There are many reasons why people like Elizabeth Warren, who is whiter than Ivory Soap, and Donald Trump of German ancestry, but who claimed to be a Swede, make false claims about their ethnic, national, racial or socio-economic identities. We all have met these people and some of us have been them. H.L. once interviewed (for a government position) an applicant who had been the head of her law school’s Puerto Rican student association. She was as Puerto Rican as Trump is a Rutabaga. And for a few seconds, H.L., while an exchange student at Howard convinced himself he was black – until quickly disabused of that by his frat brothers. What do we think when the deceivers go public and how should we evaluate whether the lie signals a serious flaw in character?
I start with the bold assertion that with candidates for and holders of public office the lie is virtually never justified nor benign, and though not completely disqualifying, goes a good distance in that direction and predicts more lies while in office. That certainly is true of Trump, who lies the way Gretzky scored goals. That everyone knows it and every single Republican senator and representative condones it in deed, if not thought and word, does not recommend similar tolerance on the left for our liars.
In some cases, the artifice begins with laudable empathy for an oppressed group, a yearning for sisterhood or an all men are brothers impulse. But at some point, the deception begins to reflect self-loathing or/and opportunism, as appears to be the case with Senator Warren. Her infinitesimal degree of Native American genetic material reminds H.L. of a 1993 awards dinner he attended, when both Lady Diana and General Colin Powell were honorees and had been introduced as sharing an ancestor, some twelve generations previously. Diana accepted her award and blew a sexy and classy kiss to “Cousin Colin.”
Senator Warren, making matters worse, has tripled down on her lie, proclaiming vindication from her trace element indigeneity. Far better, if true, to have said “I thought and was told I was, I’d be proud if I were and I am a teeny, tiny bit.” But no, she’s counting on those on the left who deplorably don’t care when our own lie to the public. Indeed, the left’s breakout star this election season is New York 14’s Congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (see H.L. 58 – “The Republican Practice of Electing Butchers, Bakers and Candlestick Makers to Congress Should Not Be Copied by Democrats” available on this site). Ocasio-Cortez’ fabrication of a working-class upbringing in the Bronx replete with a mother who cleaned houses (she grew up in upscale Yorktown Heights with her architect father and housewife mother) was quickly discovered by the press and followed with a series of articles about Ocasio-Cortez’ profound ignorance of many basic facts and the institutions she speaks about.
The filleting of Ocasio-Cortez led the press to more closely scrutinize another young Democratic Socialist star, Julia Salazar, a candidate for New York State Senate from Brooklyn. Salazar’s identity politics fabrications put to shame anything that Trump, Warren or Ocasio-Cortez attempted. Despite being born in Miami to an Italian-American mother and a previously naturalized American citizen – Colombian immigrant father, Salazar claimed to be an immigrant. She also claimed working class status and of holding jobs to make ends meet from age 14, despite the upper-middle class truth, including trust fund, and she also styled herself a “Jew of color” though raised Christian and while in college (she’s 27 now) took a free trip to Israel with “Christians for Israel” all the while juggling her job as head of an anti-choice advocacy group. Once all that hit the fan, press reports about a prior arrest, an alleged affair with a baseball player and sexual assault by an Israeli official came popping out.
During The Kavanaugh (see H.L. 60 – “The Kavanaugh Confirmation Sandwich” available on this site) when it became clear that Brett was lying about references in his high school yearbook, Senator Blumenthal asked him whether he was familiar with the legal principle “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus” that holds a juror can infer from a witness’ single falsity that all his testimony is false. Several things about that important moment pertinent to today’s topic. First, Blumenthal (who I know personally, like, respect and support) was telling Kavanaugh that since he was obviously lying about the yearbook trivia he was presumed to be lying about Dr. Blasey Ford and other matters as well.
Second, as soon as Blumenthal did this, he was predictably and correctly attacked for a lie he had told for years about his own identity – as a veteran who had served in Vietnam – despite not serving there, but stateside during the war. That lie will haunt and limit Blumenthal’s effectiveness for all his days of fine service – and may they be long. These are things that we on the left must carefully consider before electing our own identity liars to office.