- - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

If the millennials can’t have Bernie Sanders at the top of the Democratic ticket, Hillary Clinton is feeling the burn (if not the bern) to put Sen. Elizabeth Warren at the bottom of the ticket. This would wreathe the campaign in clouds and tendrils of estrogen, the female “gender” hormone, and give Hillary the opportunity to set two precedents in one.

The Constitution requires that both president and vice president be Native Americans, and Ms. Warren claims to be a Native American as well (born in Oklahoma), descended, at least in part, from the Delaware and Cherokee tribes. Her claim is in dispute, however, and the only proof she has produced to back the claim she made in a campaign biography in 2012 is her contribution of two “family recipes” to the Pow Wow Chow Cookbook, published by the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee, Okla., in 1984.

Donald Trump, however, gives her the generous benefit of the doubt. He referred to her in an interview the other day as Pocahontas, the namesake of the daughter of Chief Powhatan who saved John Smith when her father threatened to kill him with his war club. The Donald likes to confer names, such as “Low-Energy Jeb,” “Little Marco” and lately, “Crooked Hillary.” Some historians say the story of Pocahontas, romantic or not, is as flimsy in some of the particulars as Ms. Warren’s claim of Cherokee ancestry. But it’s a nice story.

The original Pocahontas, once familiar to every schoolboy in the time when American history was taught in every school in the land, was captured in a fight between white folks and Indians in Virginia, and in captivity became a Christian. When the fight was over she declined to return to her own people to stay with the English colonists. She married a colonial tobacco planter and went to England with him, was presented to society, became a celebrity, died there and was buried in a churchyard. She held celebrity in common with the Donald, one might say.

The Donald doesn’t have much in common with the senator he now calls Pocahontas, no doubt to honor Ms. Warren’s disputed ancestry. Genealogists have tried to find an Indian ancestor for her but the best tie to the Cherokees they could find was a great-great-great-grandfather in Tennessee. He was a militiaman who assisted Andrew Jackson in driving the Cherokees of North Carolina to Oklahoma on the “Trail of Tears.” Not quite the ancestor useful to Ms. Warren, or Hillary, either.

The senator’s cookbook validation is thin soup, too. Her Cherokee “family recipes” for Cold Omelets with Crab Meat, and Crab with Tomato Mayonnaise Dressing, seem unlikely, since crabs are scarce in both the Arkansas and Red Rivers, the major rivers through Oklahoma, and Oklahoma is hundreds of miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Where would Cherokees have found crabs on the high plains two centuries and more ago?

There are other persuasive reasons why Hillary would be reluctant to make Pocahontas her running mate. For one thing, Ms. Warren has yet to endorse the presumptive Democratic nominee, and the Clintons have elephantine memories, and keep track of who stood with them in an hour of considerable need, such as the present moment, and for another thing, Hillary might think she brings estrogen enough to the ticket. Pocahontas must stay in the kitchen.


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