She should know better. In the October debate, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) responded to that kind of attack, telling Warren: “I’m tired of hearing, whenever I say these things, oh, it’s Republican talking points. You are making Republican talking points right now in this room by coming out for a plan that’s going to [be kicking 149 million people off their insurance].” Warren seems not to have figured out that her retort insults a good many lifelong Democrats in her party. (She is not alone in this regard. Many Democrats in deep-blue states are unused to criticism from Democrats from the center and get their spines up when challenged to defend the viability of radical ideas.)
Well, Biden decided to remind voters of Warren’s penchant for writing out of the party those who don’t subscribe to her elaborate (and unattainable) scheme. “These kinds of attacks are a serious problem,” he writes in a Medium post. “They reflect an angry unyielding viewpoint that has crept into our politics. If someone doesn’t agree with you — it’s not just that you disagree — that person must be a coward or corrupt or a small thinker.”
Picking up on a phrase South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg uses, Biden continues: “Some call it the ‘my way or the highway’ approach to politics. But it’s worse than that. It’s condescending to the millions of Democrats who have a different view.” He then throws an elbow at the Massachusetts former law professor. “It’s representative of an elitism that working and middle class people do not share: ‘We know best; you know nothing,’” he says. “'If you were only as smart as I am you would agree with me.'”
For good measure, he brings up President Barack Obama (“I stand with the Democratic Party of Barack Obama. ... I’m not walking away from ObamaCare — I want to build on it”) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). (“She knows what it took to win back the majority in the House of Representatives. And she doesn’t want to put that majority at risk. She knows what it takes to get big things done," Biden argues. "Nancy Pelosi believes we should build on the Affordable Care Act. There has never been a Speaker who was tougher, smarter, or had a bigger vision for this country than Nancy Pelosi.”) In other words, does Warren want to run Obama and Pelosi out of the party, too? (He might have thrown into his list of anti-Medicare-for-all progressives any number of Democratic senators.)
Biden has an opening, in part, because Warren’s didactic style of politics (she’s got all the answers — and all the plans) does not appeal much to voters outside her white, very progressive and college-educated base. Biden, who appeals to many nonwhite, moderate and non-college-educated voters, does not have much difficulty casting Warren as a pushy elitist who is going to tell you how your health-care insurance (and everything else) must work. (Buttigieg has made much of her unwillingness to allow Americans to choose to keep their plan if they want.)
Warren had better have a better answer to criticism than excommunication when challenged over her Medicare-for-all scheme in the next debate. Someone as capable a debater as Warren should be able to make her argument on the merits, explain why the unintended consequences are not all that grave and convince voters that her plan won’t scare off moderate voters. If, however, she does use the “You’re a Republican” crutch, she had better be prepared for the comeback: You’re an elite busybody who cannot even keep Democrats in the fold.
The argument over health care certainly has been joined, hasn’t it?