It seems that everyone has free advice to offer Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren now that she is, well, a senator-elect.
The Globe’s Brian McGrory wants her to speak up and be more glib in answering reporters’ questions during press conferences. He and many State House journos were aghast last Thursday when Warren clammed up and let Gov. Deval Patrick do most of the talking at a presser held in the governor’s office. The Herald editorial board characterized as “boring” the woman they’d just spent the last year demonizing as a Harvard Law carpetbagger, saying she looked like a “deer in the headlights.”
As the unsolicited advice keeps pouring in from all points of the compass, it is to wonder just what our new senator has done in recent days to inspire such sincere concern other than lead a brilliant, insurgent campaign across the finish line to a resounding eight-point victory over a much younger incumbent who just two years ago was being fitted for the Blair House in Washington.
Forget any idea of a victory lap; Warren was barely given enough room to turn a pirouette before the press corps pounced on her with its stinging critique last week. She’s a bore, she’s aloof, she doesn’t respect the voters. Huh?
There were county clerks still counting votes in large parts of the nation last week as Boston’s jilted Barons of the Blackberry began their freak-out — and over what again? Their exasperation that Warren didn’t deliver a graduate level dissertation to their cameras and notepads on Day 2?
Lawrence O’Donnell— the OFD entry on MSNBC’s nightly dance-card— took a slightly different tack. He urged Warren to pull an Al Franken and avoid the national media at all costs. By all means, talk to the hometown stations and your friendly neighborhood columnists, but if you want to bury the Scott Brown— “she’s not one of us” — critique once and for all, work on becoming more Muddy River than Foggy Bottom, more South Shore Plaza than Freedom Plaza, more Neponset Circle than Dupont Circle. You get the picture.
“Have Sunday brunch at the Ashmont Grill instead of a green room bagel in a Washington TV studio,” O’Donnell urged Warren on his primetime show two days after the big win. Chris Douglass and crew, no doubt, would be thrilled to have her.
We’ll take all this a step further. How about we all take at least week off from one another, Senator-elect Warren? After all, you’re not in office yet; Scott Brown’s the one who has to show up for work this week.
Let’s face it: However Elizabeth Warren decides to conduct herself over the two month transition that has just begun, one thing is certain: There will be a sizable faction of the Fourth Estate who’ll find fault with her approach no matter what— either because they won’t get the first big exclusive tour of her new office or a big enough pat on the head for their last-minute endorsement.
Here’s hoping that the senator-elect has more important things to do with her time over the next few days than worry about any of that. And by important, I mean, like enjoying some well-deserved down time with her friends and family before the real work begins in earnest after January 1.
Now, to turn upside down this column’s central thesis, here is some free advice for our senator-elect:
As you now know, a campaign— especially a year-long, statewide slugfest like the one that just ended— takes you into a different dimension, one that often has little connection to the reality of the day-to-day world you once knew, the world that made you supremely qualified for the job you just won. No one is going to feel bad for you. You asked for this life. Now you have it for at least the next six years.
But before the next phase of the rat-race begins in earnest, take some time to part on good terms with the life you knew before. Go visit that place again for a few days. Take a long weekend road trip without any of your aides to a place where no one can find you. Turn off the cell phone and unplug from the world for a while. It’ll be here when you get back.
Finally, and this one’s important: Bring your long-suffering husband with you. He deserves it. Take him to see a movie, where people will actually be happy that you’ve gone into mute mode for a few hours.
(Tip: steer clear of Lincoln; you’ll both have your fill of Capitol Hill filibusters and Virginia battlefields soon enough.)
And, when you close your eyes and hold his hand, relive the highs and lows of the last 18 months. Remember why you wanted to run in the first place— and why he agreed to join you in the journey. You guys won. You deserved to win. And you’ll prove it when January rolls around.
Now, Madam Senator-elect, if you’d be so kind: Please pass the popcorn. We need a break, too.
– Bill Forry