Almost two weeks ago I asked Elizabeth Warren what she knows about fishing, given that our current Senator has introduced a bill regarding catch limits. I jokingly prefaced the question by calling it a “gotcha” — a question about something ultra-local, something which would likely not be in her wheelhouse. Not that I know anything about catch restrictions or fishing stocks … but I asked because someone does, and it matters to someone.
Well … sounds like her answer didn’t quite pass the smell test to those in the know:
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren has warned that federal fishery regulations, biased to favor the “largest fishing operations” or “fishing factories,” can open the door to foreigners’ taking over and depleting stocks once again.
But it is a statement that left fishing industry executives and analysts scratching their heads — and government officials shaking theirs as well.
“It’s far fetched, so far fetched,” said Vito Giacalone, policy director of the Gloucester-based Northeast Seafood Coalition.
Describing Warren’s comments as “pure and simple discrimination,” fishing industry journalist and consultant Nils Stolpe said, “The interviewee has fallen into the ‘good fishing vs. bad fishing trap that the anti-fishing groups have been so intent on making part of their mythology.”
I should say that I have no way of evaluating the bona fides of the individuals quoted. I do give credit to the reporter for the Gloucester Times for quoting Warren’s remarks to them without attribution, i.e. so that they would comment without bias.
You might call this a rookie mistake on Warren’s part. Or maybe not, based on some of the informed comments on the Gloucester Times’ site. This election will not turn on fishing policy. But it may well turn on which candidate is more fluent in local issues. For all that Elizabeth Warren has become a cause celebre unto herself based on her own set of issues, she does indeed need to become fluent in local issues. She has been tilling her own garden, and there are others — our local Congresspeople, and perhaps certain State Senators — who have been working much closer to the ground with Massachusetts interests. That’s not a criticism of her; it would be, if I felt that she hadn’t the curiosity, humility, or inclination to learn about such things.
Fortunately, I think she does possess those. The “Harvard elitist” thing won’t stick — it’s a stupid, mindless, desperate line of attack from our professional GOP, and easily refuted by her entire career of anti-elitism. But running for Senator – and indeed, being a Senator – will be a lot more than leading a cause — however worthy, however necessary. It will be about constituent service.