Paul Waldman is upset by the idea that Elizabeth Warren might get in trouble for misstating one of the years that the Boston Red Sox won the World Series:
Reporters, I beg you: If you’re going to discuss this “gaffe” and others like it, do your audience a service and explain why this is supposed to matter. And I don’t mean just by saying, “This reminds people of when Martha Coakley called Curt Schilling a Yankee fan, damaging her candidacy.” I mean explain specifically what exactly misremembering the Sox series victories as 2004 and 2008 instead of 2004 and 2007 tells us about the kind of senator Elizabeth Warren would be. Does it mean that despite all the other evidence to the contrary, she really doesn’t care about ordinary people and will upon taking office immediately introduce legislation to make the purchase of brandy snifters and riding crops tax-deductible? Then what?
First, I think as long as Warren handles this with good humor and with a characteristic display of smarts on the issue, it will be fine. Martha Coakley seemed out of touch even before she botched the basics on one of the most popular athletes in the state, and had the same kind of work ethic problem that got Ned Lamont in trouble back in the day in Connecticut. Elizabeth Warren has neither of those problems. Second, I don’t actually think it’s irrational to expect that politicians have some knowledge of the big, defining cultural interests of their constituencies. We may want to believe that voters make decisions for entirely noble, upstanding, and substantive decisions. But I’d much rather have smart politicians who recognize the gap between the ideal and reality, and respond to it not by being condescending, but by pairing trivia with intelligent and well-thought-out policy positions. That’s a vastly superior recipe for long-term organizing that just asserting that high culture’s better than low culture, or that people should make decisions in a different way than they currently do. And at the end of the day, sports aren’t removed from the realm of public policy. The Red Sox are looking for $40 million in historic preservation tax credits right now.