11/06/2012 11:36 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Our National Potboiler: Elizabeth Warren, Sexiest Man in America, and Another Woman

True justice would have been the complacent repeat offenders of Wall Street going underwater, ha ha, at peak panic in lower Manhattan last week -- instead of the millions of Americans who really were, and continue to be, panicked victims of cynical mortgage lending practices going back -- for how many years now? But then, if the New York Stock Exchange really were flooded, as was misreported by CNN and The Weather Channel, New York's entire raison d'être would short out and we'd be right back to...

Oh, relax, Jamie and Lloyd, keep your bespoke on. This is what over $164 million paid by Wall Street firms, to campaigns and political groups -- just in the current election, as of two months ago, might be called. Catastrophe insurance. No worries.

My last look at Boston media tonight shows consumer storm chaser, Harvard Law professor and Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren -- in a blue blazer, with a flowing scarf in the campaign's blue palette, surrounded by Kennedys and a city councilor in blue ties, blue shirts, or both -- reportedly in a dead heat with incumbent Scott Brown, who won the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy's seat in the midterms of 2010.

Considering where America was even two years ago, I'm the one who's worried. Not just worried: stunned that Elizabeth Warren would be in a dead heat with anyone, particularly Brown who, like Mitt Romney, always makes me think of the reasons my (actually, very sharp) mother came up with for voting her condo neighbor Orrin Hatch back to the Senate, term after term: "He's cute, he says hello in the elevator and he's a snappy dresser."

If that's all it takes, maybe I'll run for the Senate myself.

Qualifications for high elected office seem to have never been more egregiously disregarded than now, entering our new normal when Sarah Palin winked at America at the Republican National Convention in 2008 and told us that being a "community organizer" -- referring to Senator Barack Obama who, in his twenties, spent three years working with youth and families in poverty-stricken South Chicago prior to Harvard Law School -- was kind of like being mayor of Wasilla, except without the responsibility.

There's a not-quite joke that every new member of Congress wakes up the morning after the election, goes into the bathroom and sees a president in the mirror. Is anyone strictly qualified for the White House? The confounding historical question. Enough time passes, and everybody nostalgically hails Truman, Ford and, wearily, Surplus Bill Clinton. In McCain's case, qualified perhaps by that point in his career, but for his reckless and volatile personality; as for Palin, the confirmation of our original impressions in Game Change are a terrifying reminder of what a national catastrophe really looks like.

I love it when history teachers run. And veterans. It's laudable that Scott Brown has been in active service in the National Guard for 32 years, though that doesn't automatically qualify him for the United States Senate, any more than a Cherokee great-great-great grand-mother disqualifies Elizabeth Warren. (Disclosure: A similarly diluted branch of my own family tree includes Robert LeRoy Parker, more glamorously known as Butch Cassidy.) Still, with Mitt Romney campaigning as an entitled cipher, we must credit Brown for a certain ingenuous candor, as a law student, in being named ''America's Sexiest Man'' by Cosmopolitan magazine in 1982. But for the placement of one arm, we finally have a candidate on record with "the real me" exposure--albeit of a kind we can do without.

For sure, some people should stay local.

Elizabeth Warren has flown inside the eyewall for years, a one-woman FEMA as the architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) which was signed into law in 2010 as part of the otherwise toothless Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. In his jarring 484-page Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, And The Education Of A President, author and former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind details how Warren survived regulators, their Treasury Department pets, the giant banks, insurance companies, health care providers, lobbyists, the entire Republican Party and, probably most of all, notoriously sexist economic advisor Lawrence Summers with not just uncanny grace but an education not even Harvard can offer. Only a natural cop could consider such thankless crimestopping a badge of honor. I look at the electoral map and dream: If only.


Some have already lifted anchor tonight, such as Tim Pawlenty -- former Minnesota governor, 2008 GOP convention host and dabbling early presidential candidate this cycle, who resigned as Romney campaign co-chair last week to head one of one of K Street's most powerful banking industry lobbying firms. For operatives and hopefuls there won't be enough lifeboats to go around, as usual. For Wall Street, Congress and voters, checks and balances, in plain English, will mean entirely different things, also as usual. Vested interests are already deploying survival tactics usually reserved for Hamid Karzai. Or Florida.

Still, as I say, no worries. This is America's great potboiler and in 2012, as in all potboilers, there are good guys and bad guys but in the end, there'll be Another Woman to blame. You know. Sandy.