Krystal Ball: 'Warren is an insider posing as an outsider'

 Opinion by: Krystal Ball 

Alright we're getting ready for debate night 4 and it'll be a packed stage of course. Everyone from Tom SteyerTom Fahr SteyerBiden looks to shore up lead in S.C. The Hill's Campaign Report: Gloves off in South Carolina There's only one candidate for Democrats in Puerto Rico MORE and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharBiden looks to shore up lead in S.C. The Hill's Campaign Report: Gloves off in South Carolina Lawmakers grill Ticketmaster, StubHub execs over online ticketing MORE to Biden and Sanders will line up tonight. Shameless plug, we are doing live pre-game and post-game for the first time, so make sure you subscribe and sign up for our Youtube notifications so that you can watch us instead of the purveyors of conventional wisdom over there on the cable nets.

This will be a big night for Sanders to show he's back and better than ever. For Biden to try to explain why it's ok for his son to make 50k per month on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while Biden is handling the Ukraine portfolio for the Obama administration. And for Tom Steyer to explain why billionaires should exist.

But by far, the candidate with the most on the line tonight is Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden looks to shore up lead in S.C. Hillicon Valley: Dems cancel surveillance vote after pushback to amendments | Facebook to ban certain coronavirus ads | Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs | Hacker accessed facial recognition company's database Push for national popular vote movement gets boost from conservatives MORE.

This is her first time on stage in a frontrunner role. The support she has picked up from a falling Buttigieg and Harris could just as easily flit away to whoever the next establishment friendly darling of the moment is. Now obviously, the media isn't going to challenge Warren in a meaningful way. If you want to know how in the tank they are for her. Just check this out. That viral moment she had at the LGBTQ townhall?

Well apparently CNN forgot to disclose that the questioner was a max out donor to Warren's Senate campaign. So I'm sure tonight, CNN will probably have their questions about the grueling pace of Warren's selfie lines all cued up and ready to go.

But, the other candidates may not be in the mood to play so nice. Kamala and Pete may want the voters back that Warren won from them. And if Amy Klobuchar's Bill MaherWilliam (Bill) MaherButtigieg: If Trump refuses to leave White House, he can 'do chores' Bill Maher booed on HBO show after mocking liberals for calling Bloomberg racist Bill Maher warns 'woke-y' Democrats: 'Trump had his best week ever,' will be 'hard to beat' MORE performance is any indication, she's swinging wildly at anything and everything to the left of Joe Lieberman. Honestly though, I don't expect any of those attacks from relative centrists to land. When Amy Klobuchar attacks Warren on Medicare for All, it only helps Warren. Kamala took her one real shot at Biden and it ultimately only strengthened him. Pete may as well have written a check to Bernie and Warren's campaigns when he recently derided grassroots donors as "pocket change."

No. There are only three candidates on the stage who have the credibility to hit Warren where it hurts, Bernie, Tulsi, and Yang. Because Warren's vulnerability isn't that she's too far left or too centrist, it's that she's too establishment. Too cozy with the system that everyone hates. That she plays too many of the Washington games that voters are utterly disgusted with.

Washington games are why when Warren's asked about Biden's soft-corruption she gets flustered. Do I say what I actually believe or do I preserve the chance to be Biden's VP or Treasury Secretary?

That's why she's a crusader against corporate greed except when it comes to the medical device manufacturers who bring home the bacon in her own home state. Instead, Warren repeatedly pushed loopholes for them and was a primary mover behind repealing the medical device tax that was passed with Obamacare. That's why Warren calls herself a progressive but endorsed HRC once it was clear she'd be the nominee. That's why Warren promised the party that all this grassroots donor stuff would not apply to them. Her campaign made sure to make clear that Warren will still do high dollar fundraisers for the DNC. It's why she opposed single payer when she was running for Senate, but says I'm with Bernie now that the base wants to hear that. She's a more progressive version of the same old Washington stuff. But it would probably be pretty hard for Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisBiden looks to shore up lead in S.C. House passes historic legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime This week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime MORE or another centrist to make that case.

So although it's not fair, the task falls to the only three true anti-establishment candidates on the stage. Bernie, Yang, and Tulsi. Now we all know Tulsi for sure has the stomach to do it. I don't know if I have ever met a woman as tough as Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardBiden leads by 18 points in South Carolina: poll Buttigieg notes diversity on debate stage: We're '7 white people talking about racial justice' Sanders grows lead in new Hill/HarrisX poll MORE. She's also previewed a potential attack on Warren's fitness to be commander in chief with us here at Rising.

Much as I think Andrew could make an effective case against Warren and has the credibility to do it, I doubt he'll go that route. First of all, the moderators will probably never call on him and second of all, it would be totally out of character for a guy who has run a relentlessly positive campaign.

So that leaves Bernie. He previewed a critique of Warren over the weekend that essentially revolved around her being an institutionalist, a capitalist to her bones who would not challenge the "ruling class" as he would. Will he say it on stage tonight? Will he make clear that bending to the Washington way is not pragmatism, it's opportunism?

One thing I have no use for whatsoever is this dumb argument that the candidates shouldn't critique each other because it will help Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE. Ladies and gentlemen, if you're not ready for Julian CastroJulian CastroThe Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg to face off with rivals at Nevada debate How the media fall in and out of love with candidates Key Latino group endorses Sanders ahead of Nevada caucuses MORE's attack then drop out. Seriously. But I digress.

Going into tonight, Warren's got momentum. There's no doubt about it. But those dynamics can change in an instant. Just ask Kamala or Beto or Pete. All past media darlings. All past affluent liberal darlings. Although really I repeat myself. Warren is an insider posing as an outsider. The phoniness of it all readily apparent, if anyone with credibility actually bothers to point it out.