The Obama administration "blew a great opportunity" by not nominating Elizabeth Warren to be the first director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, longtime consumer advocate Ralph Nader said.

If Senate Republicans had tried to block her nomination, Nader said in an interview Friday, the Democrats could have used it to their political advantage.

"Let them filibuster. Let all the credit card abuses" that Warren has criticized be rehashed in televised hearings, he said. "Let the Republicans appear like they are protecting these misdeeds and the Democrats are appointing a real reformer who's a terrific communicator."

On Friday, the White House formally named Warren an assistant to the president and a special adviser to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in charge of setting up the bureau.

Nader called that appointment a "bizarre hybrid."

The move was "legal and all," he said, but "look at how it's going to be attacked — another czar? What, was he afraid to send her up there [to the Senate for confirmation]?"

Warren will have one advantage, Nader said: being "right next to the president and right next to Geithner inside the White House" will give her more clout than working inside the Federal Reserve, where the bureau is to be housed.

But "politically, they could have made her into symbol of justice" for consumers who have been unfairly treated by lenders, "all of whom know exactly what happened to them."

Instead, Nader said, the administration "just wimped [out]."

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