Elizabeth Warren's Cherokee Heritage: Making Everyone Look Bad

Elizabeth WarrenNew beat: Uncovering the many places Elizabeth Warren has touted her heritage. (Photo by mdfriendofhillary on Flickr.)

When it comes to the whole debate whether Elizabeth Warren has Cherokee blood running through her veins, all parties involved, including Scott Brown and much of the media, has their head up their ass. At the end of the day, the absolute worst that anyone can really say at this point is that Warren’s family may have lied to her and that she believed them — hardly the sin to end all sins.

First, there’s the Globe. Shortly after Brown’s camp of political gremlins floated the question of whether Warren could prove that she was of Native American ancestry — after it came out that Harvard, and then the University of Pennsylvania and the Association of American Law Schools, had listed her as a minority — the Globe gave world-wide credence to Warren’s claims in a story stating that a genealogist at the New England Historic and Genealogy Society had found proof that “Elizabeth Warren has a great-great-great grandmother listed in an 1894 document as a Cherokee.”

Turns out the Globe got it wrong. The paper has issued a correction stating that the document mentioned in the article, “was an application for a marriage license, not the license itself.” Neither the Globe nor the genealogist ever laid eyes on the supposed document. Further, the New England Historic and Genealogy Society now says that it has found no proof whatsoever that Warren is Cherokee.

But here’s the thing: Warren never said that she could prove or document her supposed heritage.

The worst-case scenario at this point is that someone in Warren’s clan may have been mistaken — or perhaps lied — and she believed them, much like a 12-year-old kid who believes the drunken ravings of an out-of-work Uncle Bob over Christmas dinner that he played pro baseball when he never did, only to embarrass the poor kid when he goes bragging at school the next week and some wise-ass with a baseball encyclopedia says he’s wrong in front of the whole class. Warren has maintained from the get-go that she cannot prove but believes that she’s Cherokee based on family stories and lore.

Bear with me, because this is an important point, and one that makes both Brown and Warren look petty.

Brown has publicly renewed his demands that Warren release her university personnel records, hoping they will prove she listed herself as a minority when there is no proof so far that she is a minority. Brown and his feisty team are casting it as an integrity and transparency issue. Warren, so far, has refused, which is equally dumb and makes it look as if she’s hiding something.

What’s the worst that could happen? Let’s say Warren did tell Harvard and others that she’s Cherokee. There is nothing to prove that she thought any different. It’s been part of her family story for a long time. Maybe she got it wrong. Maybe she believed the wrong relative over Christmas dinner who’d had too many sherry-spritzers. But unless Brown, or anyone else, can dig up documents or taped conversations where Warren says she knew full-well that she’s not Cherokee but was going tell everyone she was anyway, everyone involved in this silly political smoke-and-mirrors act looks like a kid in the corner wearing a dunce cap, Warren and Brown included. There have to be more important issues at stake in this political race than this.