Insiders don’t criticize other insiders

Zachary Goldfarb at the Washington Post reports on how the insiders told Warren to act like an insider. She had dinner with Larry Summers back in 2009, when she was the chair of that panel panel investigating the government’s response to the financial trainwreck.

Larry leaned back in his chair and offered me some advice. … He teed it up this way: I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don’t listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People — powerful people — listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule. They don’t criticize other insiders.

I had been warned.

You know what that sounds like?

Everything, that’s what. All the institutions and rackets and industries. Show biz, universities, corporations, the circus – everything. If you’re an outsider you’re free to criticize the insiders, to an attentive audience of all your teddy bears. If you’re an insider it’s omertà, baby.

Only not necessarily, any more, because of the internet. With blogs and social media, your audience might be a little broader than the stuffed animal collection.

But still the basic polarity applies. Outsiderdom=freedom but little power. Insiderdom=power but less freedom.

Warren ignored the warning.

And if the past few weeks are any indication, she can operate as an insider without giving her up outsider credentials. She’s remained outspoken, but has become even more influential. She hasn’t stopped throwing bombs at the rich and powerful — and causing trouble for the White House — but she’s won a spot in Senate leadership [and] changed the shape of congressional debates over financial regulation…

Good. Long may she continue.


  1. says

    Is that the left or just the media? The media can’t seem to stop obsessing about The Next Election for one second, so they pay quick lip service to what Warren is doing and then rush on the the subject of the next farking election.

  2. Blanche Quizno says

    A few memorable related quotes:

    “Never tell anyone outside the Family what you are thinking again. Go on.”

    “Fredo, you’re my older brother, and I love you. But don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever.”

    Are we talking about politics or organized crime, again?

  3. screechymonkey says

    And there’s the really irritating assumption that nothing Warren does matters unless she runs for President. Because Congress doesn’t matter at all! Nope, the last four years of Obama’s presidency have been just as productive as the first two!

  4. doublereed says

    I think it has less to do with outsiders and insiders, and more to do with the fact that she’s a Democrat actually trying to do Democrat things. And Democrats are shocked – just shocked I tells ya – that it works.

  5. brucegorton says

    Here is the thing that gets me with the article – its whole idea that she couldn’t actually get things done…

    The only reason that is true is because the Democratic Party has over-invested in the idea of consensus with the Republicans. They are all so sure they know what is realistic, without actually you know, testing it.

  6. moarscienceplz says


    Are we talking about politics or organized crime, again?

    Sorry Blanche, but that’s a redundancy.

  7. lpetrich says

    I think that Elizabeth Warren is better off continuing in the Senate, and trying to get more people like her to run for Congress, and also state and local offices. The Presidency is not enough.

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