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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Let's get serious

Which is more important: Whether Elizabeth Warren is 1/32 Native American? Or that she represented an insurance company at the Supreme Court?

Despite the Herald's breathless coverage of Warren's family tree, I'd clearly opt for today's Globe look at her counsel to Travelers Insurance in a 2009 case involving asbestos trust funds. On the surface, it's not a great looking way to make a buck for someone running as a consumer advocate.

But even here looks can be deceiving, at least according to the likely Democratic challenger to Herald favorite Scott Brown.

The Globe reports Travelers was fighting to gain permanent immunity from asbestos-related lawsuits by establishing a $500 million trust. The trust would have been divided among current and future victims of asbestos poisoning who had claims against the nation’s largest asbestos manufacturer, Johns-Manville, which had been insured by Travelers before it went bankrupt.

Warren, a bankruptcy expert, told the paper that in her view, there was a bigger, consumer-centered reason to back Travelers position:
The issue I was focused on like a laser was the constitutionality of preserving the trust, because the trust is a critical tool for making sure that people who’ve been hurt have a fair shot at compensation,’’ she said. “Without it, millions of people who’ve already been injured will get nothing, and millions more in the future will get nothing.’’
Issues, like heritage, are more than skin deep. There is a far more significant issue involved in the Travelers case than in whether Warren's great-great-great-grandmother was of Cherokee descent and whether the candidate or Harvard Law School touted that.

Brown needs to fend off legitimate questions about his deference to the financial services industry. Changing the subject to heritage trivia is not the way to do it, especially when a more legitimate issue has raised its head.

Then again, name calling is easier than a serious and complex discussion of the law.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am afraid serious discussion of any topic is going to evaporate and be difficult over the next 6 mos. I watch Stephanopoulos on Sunday mornings and last week they had a panel (3 righty/3lefty) and had a discussion of the "recovery". They were all relative experts and gave their opinions backed by sets of facts. One of the righties said something about taxes? and then one of the lefties said that's a lie. That's where it was left, how am I supposed to make up my mind? I try to look at both sides but when even the experts just resort to calling each other liers, what are we supposed to do? I guess I'll just resort to memorizing Fox info so I'll be able to add to the cacophony. At least when Ross Perot ran his ads he had some easy to understand charts.

May 01, 2012 12:23 PM  

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