Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren is heading back to Washington, this time riding in as a member of the very institution that sent her unceremoniously packing over her anti-Wall Street rhetoric and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the New York Times takes a look at what sort of legislator the latest inhabitant of Ted Kennedy's seat might become. Warren's populist rants during the campaign gained her folk-hero status among liberals, but, as the Times notes, "campaigning is different than legislating," and Warren appears to be quickly coming to that conclusion, striking a much softer tone in a press conference Thursday. “Hard edges don’t work very well in the Senate,” says a political scientist.
But friends say Warren will stick to her guns, and keep them blazing. “I think she would suffocate if she went down to the Senate and kept her head down and played nice and made compromises," says Neil Barofsky. One factor in her favor: She won't ever need to suck up to big bankers for campaign cash, because she raised tons of it even as a terrified Wall Street gave $5 million to her opponent. Many are watching to see if she's assigned to the banking committee; if she's snubbed, it "would make the Democratic Party look like a creature of Wall Street, which, by the way, it is," says one professor. Says Chuck Schumer, a banking committee member rumored to be blocking Warren from joining its ranks, “She can be a strong voice and, at the same time, be a team player.” (Read more Elizabeth Warren stories.)