Yesterday the full Senate took up the nomination of Ben Carson to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Elizabeth Warren, our state’s senior Senator, voted No.

In doing so, she betrayed her identity — her hard-fought stance — as a voice of principle.

When the Carson nomination came before the Senate committee of which she is a member, Warren voted Yes. Here is what she posted on facebook, according to Masslive on January 26, 2017, about that vote :

“Dr. Carson’s answers weren’t perfect. But at his hearing, he committed to track and report on conflicts of interest at the agency. In his written responses to me, he made good, detailed promises on everything from protecting anti-homelessness programs to enforcing fair housing laws. Promises that – if they’re honored – would help a lot of working families,” she wrote in a Wednesday Facebook post. (emphasis added)

“Can we count on Dr. Carson to keep those promises? I don’t know,” the senator continued. “People are right to be skeptical; I am. But a man who makes written promises gives us a toehold on accountability … If Dr. Carson doesn’t follow through on his commitments, I will be the very first person he hears from – loudly and clearly and frequently.”

So ; what happened between January 26 and yesterday ? Did Carson not :follow through on his commitments” ? Hardly, as he was not yet in office. Did he break those written promises Warren cited ? No, not those either. So, again i ask, what happened, to justify Warren voting to confirm one day and to not confirm a month later ?

It is bad whenever a politician turns his or her support on and off. Loyalty — dependability — is the life blood of governmental good faith. Those who exhibit it can sway much; those who don’t, find themselves avoided.

It’s much, much worse for a politician whose entire persona is principle. An elected official whose signature is to stand unshakably on principle, hasn’t much left when that refusal to be shaken becomes shaken by her own shaking.

It is said, in Warren’s defence, that Carson is not qualified. Well ? Was he less unqualified on January 26th, a day when his measure of qualification did not cost him Warren’s vote ?

Senator Warren made a national name for herself as a fearless voice of principle. Today that name is spoiled. Who will ever trust her again to ride through the entire battle by their side ? Not many. It seems that Warren is all hot for principle when standing tall is easy to do, but when the going gets tough, she is as cold to the call of principle as a cruel New England north wind.

We like politicians who, when they make standing up for principle their calling card, stand strong no matter how hard the wind is blowing, or in what direction. Bem Carson may or may not turn out to be a fine Secretary of “HUD.” That is up to him. But he now knows that Senator Warren is someone to be leery of. Nothing good came come of that.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere




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