Democracy Dies in Darkness

‘Haters gonna hate,’ etc., etc. Elizabeth Warren shakes it off on Donald Trump.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at the Phoenix Convention Center during the Netroots Nation convention Friday, July 17, 2015, in Phoenix. (Cheryl Evans/The Arizona Republic via AP)
May 16, 2016 at 6:10 AM EDT

April showers bring May commencement speeches, and many are packed with Hallmark-card, Pinterest-board, wall-decal worthy cliches.

This is the first day of the rest of your life.

Dance like nobody is watching.

Live, laugh, love.

On Saturday, at a commencement ceremony for Bridgewater State University students, Elizabeth Warren latched onto her own less egregious theme: Know thyself.

“Knowing who you are will help you when it’s time to fight, fight for the job you want, fight for the people who mean the most to you, fight for the world you live in and the world you want to live in,” Warren said. “If you know who you are, you won’t get caught up when times get tough and the naysayers try to stop you.”

Then she dropped some wisdom from Taylor Swift.

“Or, to put it differently,” Warren said — then sang, “as one of the great philosophers of our time has said… haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” 

The students, in DIY bedazzled caps and traditional black robes, went wild.

“Knowing who you are helps you ‘Shake It Off,’” Warren said, flicking her own hand for all to see.

The first female U.S. senator to represent the state of Massachusetts, Warren is know for her bulldog approach to politics, a toughness that led her to take on Wall Street, orchestrate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and unseat her incumbent Republican challenger in the second most expensive race of the 2012 election cycle.

In the last few weeks, her energy was flowed toward a new foe: presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump — and his Twitter alter ego, @realDonaldTrump.

Since late March, the two have been trading insults on TV and social media, slinging nicknames and attacking political ideologies. Warren called Trump a “loser” on Facebook and Twitter. Trump called her “the Indian,” dredging up an old controversy over the senator’s claim of Native American heritage. Then he called her “Hillary Clinton’s flunky” and assigned her the moniker “Goofy Elizabeth Warren.

And though she didn’t mention Trump explicitly when she belted the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s popular anti-bullying anthem, Warren did use his name earlier in her speech.

“On my day of graduation, I never imagined I would visit foreign countries. I never imagined I would be a commencement speaker,” She said, then smirked. “I never imagined I would get into a Twitter war with Donald Trump.”

During her speech, Warren kept her mentions of Trump congenial and brief, but afterward, when asked about the presumptive nominee by reporters, Warren went right after him.

“I think that Donald Trump is a truly dangerous man and there is some risk that he could be president of the United States,” Warren told reporters after the graduation. “I think it’s time for all of us to pay careful attention to him and to the issues that he has raised and to start fighting back.”

When asked, Warren would not say whether she would accept an invitation to run for vice president, reported the Boston Globe.

“I have a job I love and I wake up every morning eager to do that,” Warren told reporters.

Analysts have observed that Warren’s Twitter tirades could actually help the Democratic party leading up the 2016 presidential election — giving teeth to a fight that front-runner Hillary Clinton has been largely hesitant to wage.

“The more Donald Trump thrusts Elizabeth Warren in the middle of the national spotlight, the better it is for Democrats this November because her ideas are enormously popular,” Adam Green, c0-founder of the liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee, told the Boston Globe. “Of all people, it’s surprising that he’s willing to give her such a platform.”

Warren’s last bout of Trump Twitter criticism came May 11.

In an interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd that published May 14, the same day as Warren’s commencement speech, Trump whipped out his newest nickname:

When I asked if he had been chided by any Republicans for his Twitter feud with Elizabeth Warren, he replied, “You mean Pocahontas?” So much for reining it in.

Comments are not available on this story.

Share your feedback by emailing the author. Have a question about our comment policies? Review our guidelines or contact the commenting team here.