Need more proof that Elizabeth Warren is definitely running for president? If you weren’t sure already then today should remove all doubt. After years of this white woman being mocked for claiming to be Native American, she’s finally released the results of a DNA test.
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.”
According to Bustamante’s calculations, Warren may have had a Native American ancestor “in the range of 6-10 generations ago,” which means that she could be anywhere from 1/32nd Native American to 1/512th Native American. Warren certainly took this test and released the results thinking that they bolster her past claims of Native American heritage. But, as I wrote seven months ago, whether she has a tiny fraction of Native American DNA really isn’t the point. Warren’s supporters will take the position that this test vindicates her, never mind the fact Warren is predominantly of European ancestry and her Native heritage might be even less than she claimed. Warren, by her own telling, would be no more than 1/32nd Cherokee. As far as I’m concerned, this test was unnecessary.
No matter how much Cherokee blood runs through her veins, she is a white woman. But, the issue is not whether she is 3.125 percent Cherokee. The issue is whether Warren, a white woman, abused the spirit of affirmative action policies to advance her career. That she claimed Native American heritage is not up for debate. In fact, it is well documented. Harvard Law School cited her as an example of a minority woman professor. “Although the conventional wisdom among students and faculty is that the Law School faculty includes no minority women,” wrote the Harvard Crimson in 1996, “Professor of Law Elizabeth Warren is Native American.” Why did they cite her as an example of the school’s progress in achieving diversity in hiring? Because she identified herself as a Native American in an Association of American Law Schools teachers directory.
Elizabeth Warren has denied abusing affirmative action policies to advance her career—despite the evidence she has done so. Focusing on whether she has any Native American heritage over whether she abused affirmative action policies for personal gain may have gotten her to take the DNA test, but it doesn’t change the simple fact that a white woman who is somewhere between .097 percent and 3.125 percent Native American was claiming minority status at the expense of actual minorities.
Elizabeth Warren wouldn’t have released this DNA test if she didn’t think it vindicated her. Let me tell you right now that it doesn’t. The question remains: who is gonna give her heat for it first? Two of her potential primary opponents in 2020 are Kamala Harris and Cory Booker. Harris is African American and Indian American, and Booker is African American. Both will be well positioned to call her out on her abusing the spirit of affirmative action policies while in college and in her career. It’s going to be a crowded Democrat field in 2020, and expect things to get ugly. Warren managed to go a long time not having to answer to her Republican critics on this issue, but despite this DNA test, her fellow Democrats with an eye on the White House are sure to call her out on it. No matter how you slice it, Warren explaining to two African American candidates why she was justified calling herself a minority will be a bad look for Warren during the 2020 primaries.
Matt Margolis is the author of The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama and the bestselling The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy, will be published in 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis