Be careful what you wish for. That is what Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) should be telling himself.
McHenry wanted Elizabeth Warren to not be head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He got his wish. But now the consumer bureau has a fully empowered director in Richard Cordray, and Massachusetts has a fearsome Senate candidate who has Republican Senator Scott Brown very nervous.
Back when the bureau was in its infancy and Warren was getting it set up, McHenry made it his mission to slow things down, constantly harassing the bureau and Warren. He attacked them in the media, making up claims about their supposedly vast and unaccountable powers. He questioned Warren as rudely as he could during her visits to Capitol Hill. McHenry, who has been well-funded by big banks and predatory lenders, culminated his attacks by calling her a liar during a hearing he had convened. Thousands of outraged citizens angrily posted on his Facebook wall, calling on him to apologize. Even his colleagues in Congress objected, telling him in a letter that his "disrespectful treatment... undermines the integrity of our Committee and offends the standards of the House of Representatives."
McHenry, of course, was unapologetic -- which resulted in more fans and a bigger profile for Elizabeth Warren. McHenry's attacks on Warren backfired in every way. Cordray has been appointed to head the CFPB, where he's moving swiftly and effectively. And Warren, hoping to continue her work for middle-class families, went back home to Massachusetts and eventually decided on a Senate run.
It is no secret that Warren's candidacy makes Scott Brown nervous. Warren is well-known as a crusader for the middle class, has a track record to back it up, and has proven incredible fundraising prowess and grassroots support. Though Brown has the advantage of incumbency and is well-funded by Wall Street, the two candidates are in a statistical dead heat, and Warren is rapidly closing Brown's early fundraising advantage. Just about everyone agrees that Massachusetts has become the hottest Senate race in the country this year.
And Scott Brown probably has Patrick McHenry more than anyone to thank for that.
McHenry didn't apologize to Warren when he should have. Perhaps he'll now extend the courtesy to Brown, his fellow Republican member of Congress and ideological brother in arms?