When a Plan Backfires

Elizabeth Warren was the butt of a few jokes when she claimed to have Native American ancestry. In an apparent attempt to silence her critics she had her DNA tested and it showed that there is evidence that she had Native American ancestry between six and 10 generations back. But releasing the results of her DNA test has backfired pretty severely:

“A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship. Current DNA tests do not even distinguish whether a person’s ancestors were indigenous to North or South America,” Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “Sovereign tribal nations set their own legal requirements for citizenship, and while DNA tests can be used to determine lineage, such as paternity to an individual, it is not evidence for tribal affiliation. Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong. It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is proven. Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.”

One of the defining characteristics of politicians is an inability to qualify statements. It seems like every statement made by a politician is an absolute. Instead of claiming that she had Native American ancestry, Warren could have said that her family folklore claims that her family had Native American ancestry. If she would have qualified her statement by saying that her ancestry was family folklore, the results of her DNA test wouldn’t have mattered. She could have taken these results and said that there is evidence supporting her family folklore and left it at that.