It’s been more than one year since Donald Trump was elected president, but to politicians like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, it feels much longer. Tonight, on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Warren shut down Trump's racist Pocahontas tweets by vowing to stay outspoken.
For more than a year, Trump has taken to calling the senator “Pocahontas,” mocking Warren’s claims that she has Cherokee and Delaware Native American heritage, an assertion that was challenged back when she was running for office in 2012. Although Warren has never showed documentation to prove her heritage, The Washington Post’s fact checker blog found no evidence that these claims had given her an unfair advantage in the past.
The president doesn’t let nicknames go easily, and he’s certainly held onto “Pocahontas” when it comes to Warren. But the senator, who regularly butts heads with Trump, seems unfazed. On Monday night, Colbert joked to Warren that "there are times when you and the president agree," referring to a tweet the president recently wrote citing the Massachusetts senator's comments that the Democratic National Committee supposedly rigged the election in favor of Hillary Clinton. Former DNC interim chairwoman eventually denied it was "rigged," as has Clinton.
Ever the savvy politician, Warren quickly deflected talk about the DNC to focus on Trump's use of "Pocahontas," telling Colbert, "Donald Trump thinks if he’s gonna start every one of these tweets to me with a racist slur, that he’s gonna shut me up. It didn’t work in the past, it’s not gonna work in the future."
Her statement, of course, drew a raucous round of applause from audience members. While Warren has never had trouble speaking out against her opponents, this past year has been particularly challenging. In February, she was asked to stop speaking on the Senate Floor while she was reading a letter by Coretta Scott King to oppose Jeff Sessions’ nomination as attorney general. After the incident, the Massachusetts senator said, “They can shut me up, but they can’t change the truth.”
At this point in Trump's presidency, it's clear that Warren has no trouble speaking out against him, particularly when it involves one of his beloved nicknames. Following his tweet about "Pocahontas" earlier this November, the president drew criticism from the likes of Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, who — like Warren — called the nickname a "racial slur."
Representative Raul M. Grijalva, who serves in the Third Congressional District of Arizona, said the president's behavior "proves again how crass & out-of-touch he is w/Natives."
And radio host Roben Farzad said that "any CEO would lose job" over the use of a nickname of that nature.
The fact that Trump is still using "Pocahontas," even as president, seems at times surreal — and perhaps it's part of the reason why this past year has felt so long. Joking with Colbert about the president's unique ability to slow down time, Warren said, "How long has he been president now?" to which Colbert quipped back, "45 years. If my bone density is any indication."
Once Warren got past the Trump talk, she spoke with Colbert about more pertinent issues on her mind, most notably flaws that she's perceived in the Republicans' new tax bill.
And of course, there was talk about how progressive movements can work to affect change now, rather than wait until the next presidential election to make a comeback.
It's not hard to take a page from Warren's book when you consider how long the next three years might feel. Why wait to get involved in politics? As the senator joked to Colbert on Monday night: "There are dog years and now there are Trump years."