Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Fed chair Jerome Powell aren’t on speaking terms these days. According to the Globe, they haven’t had a personal meeting or phone call in nearly two years, apparently because Warren has freaking had it with him. 

“I have explained over and over my views that a banking system that loads up on risk is a threat to our economy here at home and ultimately to the world economy,” she told the paper. “It’s clear I haven’t gotten through.”

Evidence, if any was needed, that Warren’s rhetorical style – sharper than an Obsidian blade, more blunt than the Den Haag Steel Lock – is not always a substitute for the Dale Carnegie method. Her national favorability peaked at 46% in September 2019, coinciding with her cup of herbal tea at the head of the Democratic presidential pack. Even after two decisive statewide wins her local approval languishes in the low 40s, not to mention her humiliating third-place finish in the 2020 Massachusetts presidential primary.

Where’s the love for arguably the Senate’s foremost consumer advocate?

Conservatives hate her because she’s a liberal who specializes in telling them to bleep off. Plenty of liberals hate her because she’s not liberal enough (read: willing to defer to the Bernie Sanders’ of the world.) And plenty of voters just don’t grok on outspoken women who are smarter than they are and not shy about it.

But while Warren’s White House ambitions are defunct (absent an extraordinary confluence of events), it looks like her torture of the haters will continue for at least another seven years. To no one’s surprise she formally announced her bid for a third term this week. Unless the Republicans can figure out a way to qualify a Dunkin Donuts medium iced coffee (regular) for the ballot, it’ll be a cakewalk. (Oh wait: there’s low-level talk of a possible primary challenge by Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-Blockchain Eight). Rim shot! We’ll be here at the Comedy Stop all week!)

Cause for celebration or consternation? That depends on what you’re looking for.

If you want an intransigent demagogue to either extol or revile, there are far better choices elsewhere. You won’t see Warren at a “No Arms To Ukraine” rally. While her political allies include elements of the anti-Israel left, she has refused to adopt their BDS rhetoric, and was quick to denounce last year’s antisemitic Mapping Project targeting Jewish institutions.

The right-wing Kool-Aid guzzlers on the Wall Street Journal editorial page can hardly burp out their daily diatribes about the left’s dire threat to capitalism without name-checking Warren. But her thoroughly justified dust-up with Powell over lax bank oversight exposes their embarrassing fallacy – it’s not watchdogs like Warren who endanger the marketplace, it’s apologists for greed and cluelessness like the Journal bros.

Which brings us to the core question of our senior senator’s re-election bid: what do we need Liz Warren for? 

In a political culture that’s choking to death on money-grubbing, warped ideology and bureaucratic incompetence, maybe you need someone on duty who’s ready, willing and able to perform the Heimlich.

Jon Keller has been reporting and commenting on local politics since 1978. A graduate of Brandeis University, he worked in radio as a producer and talk-show host before moving into print journalism at The Tab newspapers and the Boston Phoenix. Freelance credits include the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Boston Magazine, the New Republic and the Washington Post. Since 1991 his "Keller At Large" commentaries and interviews have been a fixture on Boston TV, first on WLVI-TV and, since 2005, on WBZ-TV. He is a 12-time Emmy Award winner for political reporting and commentary. He began his Massterlist column in March 2020.