It won't be easy maintaining their allegiance, as she navigates the compromise-filled world of the Senate. As I sat in her lobby, aides handled an unending string of phone calls, many chastising her from the left. "I'd appreciate it if you didn't use profanity, sir," aide Tim Bialecki said to one caller complaining about Warren's vote in favor of confirming John Brennan to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

Warren also needs to do business with colleagues who might not appreciate her rousing of the rabble.

Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed, who serves on the Banking Committee, says that despite Warren's sharp bite in those YouTubed public confrontations, she has taken a collegial approach with her colleagues that will serve her well. She has built upon her existing relationships, and forged new ones — even co-sponsoring a bill, introduced last week, with Republicans Bob Corker of Tennessee and David Vitter of Louisiana, and moderate Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia, on housing-finance reform.

>> SIDEBAR: William "Mo" Cowan takes his turn <<

"She is one of the most knowledgeable people to enter the Senate in a long time," says Reed. "She is thoughtful, methodical, pleasant, and she wants to co-operate." Warren's sharp exchanges in hearings, he says, are "not just an exercise in rhetoric."

"Behind the scenes she is being herself," Franken says. "She has strong progressive views. But, in her interactions she's a lovely, nice person."

She also has the advantage of being able to work on a six-year time horizon — and, realistically, as long as she wants to stay there.

And that might be what scares her Wall Street enemies the most. There is no amount of money, or scurrilous attacks, likely to cause her downfall at the polls.

That will only make them more eager to find other ways to halt her efforts. They will counter-attack at every opportunity — as with the current attempt to derail Cordray's re-nomination — and undoubtedly plan longer-term strategies to limit her sway.

After all, they are supposed to be too big to fail, not her. It will take much longer than three months to see which of them will ultimately left standing.


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