This speech given by Elizabeth Warren recently on the floor of the Senate has been compared to Barack Obama’s speech to the Democratic Convention in 2004 in its potential to influence her future political prospects.
In retrospect, Obama’s 2004 speech was fluff — feel-good stuff that showcased his eloquence, his supposed ability to bring America into a new unity of purpose by rhetoric alone. It was long on vision, short on practicalities.
Warren’s speech, by contrast, was pure brass tacks. It more resembles Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech of 1860, the speech that made him a national and not just a regional phenomenon. Lincoln was not a candidate for the Presidency when he made the speech, but the speech in some ways made his candidacy inevitable.
Lincoln’s speech was long and minutely technical, touching on the Federal right to regulate slavery in Federal Territories. Warren’s was short but equally practical. She reminded us of irrefutable facts — that Americans of both parties resent the bail-outs of Wall Street firms in 2008, necessary, so we were told, because these firms were “too big to fail” . . . that these same firms are bigger now than they were in 2008, just as capable of crashing the world economy again, and that Americans will still be on the hook if they do so.
Warren’s speech is less than ten minutes long — listen to it. It’s important. It may be the only important political speech delivered in America this year. One thing is certain — if malfeasance on Wall Street crashes the world economy again, this speech will be remembered, and those who didn’t listen to it will rue their recklessness.