A month ago, I had a little snarky fun parsing Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s effort to make it sound like she wouldn’t be a presidential candidate in 2014 without actually saying so.
The gag then was that, when asked about a presidential bid, Warren always used the exact same phrase: “I am not running for president.” You didn’t need a highly tuned b.s. detector to grasp that “I am not running” didn’t completely rule out a decision to start running.
When Steve Inskeep of NPR asked her whether “I’m not running” covered only the current moment or ruled out a bid during the 2016 cycle, she declined to give a clear response, which I took as a sign that she was keeping her option open.
That changed (in my perception at least) when Warren sat down with former FDIC Chair Shelia Bair for an interview published in Fortune, which included this exchange.
Bair: So are you going to run for president?
(And that was her entire answer).
That may be not be the full Sherman. (Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, seeking to put to rest the rumors that he would be the Republican candidate in 1884, said: “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”) But I take it to be a clear non-coy answer and so did Fortune, which headlined that it had obtained “the final word on a White House run.”
I’m a huge fan of straight talk from politicians, of which there is little and, in my humble opinion, even less than there used to be. In general, on policy, Warren has been toward the high end of the candor spectrum. Her brief flirtation with parsing tenses on the subject of “not running” was a temporary deviation from that behavior and I’m glad she has decided to clarify.