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Conservative Eminence Charles Fried Supports Elizabeth Warren

One of the supposed knocks against Elizabeth Warren is that she’s an ideological crusader bent on destroying capitalism as we know it. If she were to lead the new consumer protection agency, she could do serious harm to the country. But Charles Fried disagrees. Fried, who spoke to TNR this afternoon, is one of Warren's colleagues at Harvard Law School. He also served as solicitor general under Ronald Reagan and openly supported the nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. In other words, he's a bona fide conservative. And he thinks the criticisms of Warren are way off.

Fried praised Warren for her commitment to the issues that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would handle. After all, the bureau was her brainchild. And he accused critics focusing on her relative lack of managerial experience of acting "in bad faith." (A professor and researcher for many years, Warren has been leading the five-member Congressional Oversight Panel monitoring TARP since 2008.) “That’s not a debate. That is just crass,” Fried said. “People who talk about the lack of experience—that’s junk. … They’re afraid of her because she actually believes in [what she’s doing].” He went on to note that many professors have successfully led large organizations because “they believed in their mission. They were smart.”

As for Warren's ideology, Fried said she and the new consumer protection agency stand for principals that anyone, liberal or conservative, should support. “I support capitalism, and I don’t like thieves. And the people who got us into this mess are thieves, or there are a lot of thieves among them,” he said. “To be sympathetic to people who lie and cheat and take advantage of people is not to be against capitalism.”

Fried stopped short of saying Warren would be his ideal pick to lead the new bureau. But he added: “I would like her to be successful because I’m sure she would run the agency extremely well.”