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Like the Astrodome, and the first teepee


Senator Elizabeth Warren has released a DNA test that provides “strong evidence’’ she had a Native American in her family tree dating back 6 to 10 generations, an unprecedented move by one of the top possible contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president.

Warren, whose claims to Native American blood have been mocked by President Trump and other Republicans, provided the test results to the Globe on Sunday in an effort to defuse questions about her ancestry that have persisted for years. She planned an elaborate rollout Monday of the results as she aimed for widespread attention.

The analysis of Warren’s DNA was done by Carlos D. Bustamante, a Stanford University professor and expert in the field who won a 2010 MacArthur fellowship, also known as a genius grant, for his work on tracking population migration via DNA analysis.

He concluded that “the vast majority” of Warren’s ancestry is European, but he added that “the results strongly support the existence of an unadmixed Native American ancestor.”

Bustamante calculated that Warren’s pure Native American ancestor appears in her family tree “in the range of 6-10 generations ago.” That timing fits Warren’s family lore, passed down during her Oklahoma upbringing, that her great-great-great-grandmother, O.C. Sarah Smith, was at least partially Native American.

Smith was born in the late 1700s. She identified as white in historical documents, though at the time Indians faced discrimination, and Smith would have had strong incentives to call herself white if possible.

My off the cuff response to this is that it’s a mistake. The only conceivable reason why any minimally rational person would even care if Warren actually had a Native ancestor is if Warren had used her purported ancestry to gain some sort of potentially improper benefit.  She very clearly never did so, as this excellent piece of reporting by the Boston Globe proves.

But of course much of the electorate isn’t in the same zip code as minimal rationality these days, and therefore the actual facts regarding Warren’s ancestry are going to remain irrelevant to anyone who would care about this issue in the first place.

Speaking of facts:

Undergoing the test and releasing the results reveal how seriously Warren is taking the attacks from Trump, who has been able to effectively caricature and diminish his national foes via nicknames and conspiracy theories. Trump pushed then President Barack Obama into releasing the long form of his birth certificate to prove what most knew was already true: He was born in America.

The move is also another indication of how seriously Warren is considering running for president. And while it’s unclear whether the test will convince Trump and his die-hard supporters, Warren will be able to point to it with other, more open-minded voters. Once Obama produced his birth certificate in 2011, the racist “birther’’ movement, which thrived on the Internet and was stoked by Trump, largely evaporated.

What fantasy world do these journalists live in?  Let’s travel back to that long-ago time known as “last year.”  Dateline January 5, 2017:

When a recent Economist/YouGov poll showed that 42 percent of self-identified Republicans still believe that Democratic President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, it wasn’t a statistical blip or the result of a sampling error.

A significant percentage of Republicans have long been out of their minds on the long-settled matter of Obama’s status as a natural-born citizen, which I won’t dignify here with such words as “question” or “issue.”

In 2010, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found 31 percent of Republicans said they thought Obama was born outside the United States. In 2011, a New York Times/CBS News poll had that number at 45 percent, and a Fox News poll had it at 37 percent.

The Economist/YouGov poll, conducted in mid-December, also showed 49 percent of Republicans saying it was either definitely or probably true that “leaked email from some of Hillary Clinton‘s campaign staffers contained code words for pedophilia, human trafficking and satanic ritual abuse,” as was alleged in widely disseminated fake-news stories.

By taking a DNA test, Warren is showing that if she runs for president, she plans to be a very different candidate than Hillary Clinton was. The 2016 Democratic nominee for president chafed at releasing personal information and was dogged throughout her campaign by her use of a private server while she was secretary of state.
The American media: learning nothing and forgetting nothing.
. . . This changes my reaction somewhat:

President Trump on Monday denied that he offered Sen. Elizabeth Warren(D-Mass.) $1 million to take a test proving her Native American heritage, even though he did just that.

Trump spoke after Warren responded to the president’s challenge and released the results of a DNA test showing she has a distant Native ancestor.

Responding to a question about Warren’s test, Trump said, “Who cares?”

During a campaign rally on July 5, Trump taunted Warren for her claims of Native American ancestry, a staple of his campaign stump speeches.

“I will give you a million dollars, to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian,” Trump said at the time. “I have a feeling she will say ‘no.’ “

Of course this will give the media lots of opportunities to lament that Warren is sinking to Trump’s level, since he is lying and she is pointing out that he is lying.


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