When Elizabeth Warren's claims of Indian ancestry first became public in 2012, I found her subterfuge funny -- if mildly despicable -- and even wrote two posts to that effect, here and here. At the time, I figured it was it was just a one off, a single fib that she had felt obliged to defend, and which then took on an embarrassing life of its own.
At the time it didn't occur to me that Warren might be a sociopath because she seems such an unlikely one: her cherubic cheeks, tremulous voice, and slight build are the opposite of threatening. But I shouldn't have been swayed by such superficialities.
Sociopaths come in all sorts of guises, even genteel lady academic.
Since 2012, Warren's behavior and character have become more public. A closer look at her overall slipperiness shows that her most famous lie wasn't an anomaly, but part of a pattern.
Most people, when caught in a lie, are, at the very least, a little embarrassed. Not Warren. Rather than admit to her most famous lie, just kept brazenly going with it. She commissioned a DNA test (not from an established DNA service but from a friendly colleague). When it revealed that she was somewhere between 1/256th and 1/1024th Native American, she insisted this proved her right.
Those tiny fractions might make an interesting tidbit for a cocktail party conversation; they certainly don't justify categorizing oneself as Native American. But Warren had actually listed herself that way during her stints at both Penn and Harvard law schools. (Harvard Law School actually advertised her as their first tenured "woman of color" on their faculty during the 1990's, an era in which the school was under pressure for not having a more diverse faculty.)
Warren claimed that her academic career had never benefitted at all from her having claimed minority status. (But why else would she have done it?)
She got a number of people from Harvard and Penn to back up her claim that she hadn't been an affirmative action hire. But what academic in his right mind would ever publicly admit that a certain professor wouldn't have been hired if he hadn't been a minority? Any university spokesman knows such honesty would result in instant termination. (Warren obviously counted on this.)
It also turned out that Warren had contributed two recipes to a "Pow Wow Chow" Indian cookbook. She claimed that these recipes, one of which included crab with tomato mayonnaise dressing, had been in her family for generations. But then it was discovered that she had stolen these recipes from French chef Pierre Franey.
When Trump mocked Warren's dishonesty by referring to her as Pocohontas, she responded by saying that Trump was using a racial slur and insulting all Native Americans. But this was obviously not the case: he was merely mocking her for claiming to be something she is not. Twisting the truth this way is a sociopathic specialty.
Warren also said that Trump "likes to call my mother a liar." But Trump has never referred to Warren's mother: he simply calls Warren a liar. (Warren's mother never gained professional advantage by claiming to be Native American.) But Warren knows that she will come across as if she is nobly defending her family (and motherhood) by phrasing it that way. Again, twisting the truth.
Warren's "apology" for her big lie was a masterpiece of obfuscation: "I'm not a tribal citizen. My apology is an apology for not having been more sensitive about tribal citizenship and tribal sovereignty. I really want to underline the point, tribes and only tribes determine tribal citizenship."
In other words, by claiming to be Native American, she didn't actually lie -- you see, it was just a little matter of misinterpretation, of emphasis, of sensitivity, of semantics. That's all.
This is the kind of word-parsing that's reminiscent of Bill Clinton's lawyerly evasions about what the meaning of "is" is. Or of Wendy Davis saying "My language should be tighter. I'm learning about using broader, looser language. I need to be more focused on the detail."
Sociopaths almost never admit to dishonesty; they just try to wriggle out on technicalities.
More recently it emerged that Warren's claims of having been fired from her first teaching job because she was pregnant were untrue.
Warren has campaigned against school vouchers and against charter schools. Three weeks ago in Atlanta a woman said to Warren that she wanted her children to have the option of where to go to schools, just as Warren's had. Warren replied, "My children went to public schools."
Technically, that's true: her daughter attended public schools, and her son attended public school through junior high. But after that, he was sent to a private school which cost $17,000 a year. So Warren's reply was disingenuous, at best.
When Warren announced her candidacy from her kitchen, she said, "I'm gonna get me a beer" and then drank it from the bottle to show she's just a regular down home gal. But she's about as much of a regular gal as she is an Indian.
You can say that a certain amount of posturing is unavoidable with a political candidacy. After all, kissing babies and trying different cuisines has long been a staple of campaigns. And getting elected usually requires pandering to different constituencies. But pretending to be something you're not is the essence of sociopathy.
And that seems to be second nature with Warren.
Warren was a Republican until she was 47. There's nothing wrong with that; people are allowed to change their minds. But her justifications for her switch simply don't ring true. She says now that she used to be a Republican because they seemed to be the party which supported the markets, but that she no longer thinks so. But Republicans are still more supportive of markets; in fact, they are still frequently criticized for being supportive of the financial asset-owning classes at the expense of the poor. Warren's reason for switching parties is simply not credible.
Look at this picture of Warren closely. What you see is not an expression of sympathy, but rather an attempt to mimic one.
The only genuine emotion showing on Warren's face is the pride she feels for looking so "sympathetic." One of the hallmarks of sociopathy is a fake emotionality.
I find it impossible to imagine Warren feeling embarrassed, or ashamed, or guilty because of her lies. If she were capable of those emotions, she wouldn't continue to lie the way she does. And that is the essence of sociopathy.
Verdict: a well-disguised sociopath.