Karl Smith thinks the criticisms of Elizabeth Warren’s academic work are probably overblown, but argues that she’d be a poor choice to head the new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau anyway. Like Paul Krugman, he says, she’s an intellectual steamroller with strong opinions:
Having the formidable, and seemingly strong priored Warren at the head of CPFA is dangerous. She seems to have strong beliefs and the analytical ability to plow through anyone in her way. A cold-hearted pointy head would make a better referee.
That’s not to say that passion has no place in intellectual discourse, but it is why its important that passions balanced. It doesn’t matter how good your intentions are, confirmation bias and a lack of diversity will leave glaring blind spots.
Consider me convinced. For a position like this — the very first head of an agency that needs to develop both a strong identity and an ethic that puts it squarely on the consumer’s side — I think this is exactly what we need. Cold-hearted pointy heads are pretty useful in some areas, but not this one. We don’t need a referee right now, we need a pioneer. Elizabeth Warren for CFPB!