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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Is Obama backing Elizabeth Warren?

Is President Obama finally set to nominate Elizabeth Warren as his key Wall Street consumer cop? He strongly hinted as much at his news conference Friday, and the move would throw a big bone to liberals who passionately support her and want to see Obama take a stand on something they care about.

The left has mounted a campaign to get Warren appointed as head of the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is central to the success of one of Obama's main achievements, Wall Street reform, on the grounds that she's a highly qualified, very aggressive advocate.

Obama was careful to say that no decisions have been made. But he indicated that an announcement is coming, and if you read between the lines of what he said, it sure sounded like a strong hint that he's leaning toward picking her:

"The idea for this agency was Elizabeth Warren's. She's a dear friend of mine. She's somebody I've known since I was in law school. And I have been in conversations with her. She is a tremendous advocate for this idea. This is a big task, standing up this entire agency. So I'll have an announcement soon about how we're going to move forward.

"I have had conversations with Elizabeth over these last couple of months. But I'm not going to make an official announcement until it's ready."

Obama slightly emphasized the word "official," suggesting the possibility that making it official is all that remains. The White House declined to comment when I asked whether Obama was leaning in her direction, beyond saying that an announcement is coming. But this is the strongest endorsement of Warren that Obama has yet offered in public.

Given the passions she's unleashed, and the symbolic importance she's taken on for liberals, it would be a surprisingly tone-deaf move if Obama dangled this out there, only to pull away the football and spark more anger and outrage on the left. At a minimum, if he doesn't appoint her after this, it will set up the left for another round of anger and disappointment.


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