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Tue Oct 5, 2021, 11:30 PM

The Cocooning of Kyrsten Sinema

The Arizona senator has undergone a political metamorphosis.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/05/us/politics/kyrsten-sinema-arizona-democrat.html



In February 2018, I went to Arizona to report on what progressive Democrats there thought about Kyrsten Sinema, the centrist whose Senate vote is key in the fight over President Biden’s agenda and political prospects. At the time, Ms. Sinema, then a three-term congresswoman, was the leading Democrat for the state’s Senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, a Republican. She was handpicked by Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, for her fund-raising acumen and a carefully curated moderate image that was believed to play well in Arizona, which hadn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate in 30 years. Before flying to Phoenix, I asked Ms. Sinema’s aides whether she would be doing any campaigning or whether I could come see her — it was a week of congressional recess when members of Congress tend to spend time in their districts. After obfuscating about her whereabouts, Ms. Sinema’s team finally told me to meet her at a bookstore in Phoenix for what was described as a round-table discussion with local businesswomen. When I got there, I encountered a highly unusual scene for a major campaign. There was nobody else at the event, just the seven businesswomen, Ms. Sinema and her highly attentive staff (one aide unwrapped a straw before carefully placing it in Ms. Sinema’s can of La Croix), me and a small CNN crew. She spent the 38-minute discussion — seemingly conducted purely for the benefit of The Wall Street Journal, where I worked at the time, and CNN — taking every opportunity to praise President Donald J. Trump and her meetings with him.

When she was asked about child care, she said Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump was working on it. In our subsequent 13-minute interview, Ms. Sinema couldn’t name any topics in which she disagreed with Mr. Trump. When I asked what her younger self, who worked for Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign, would think of her in 2018, she said she would be “proud of the growth.” And she wouldn’t say whether she had given up on her former, more liberal beliefs, but she stressed that she had prioritized results over rhetoric. “What I’ve learned to do is use the tools and skills that I’ve learned to be productive and get stuff done,” she told me. “Getting stuff done is amazing. It’s amazing when you can say, ‘I’ve delivered real results.’” What is perhaps most notable about that interview is that she did it at all. Ms. Sinema rarely granted requests for sit-down interviews with national reporters during the rest of her 2018 campaign. Since coming to Washington, she has been one of the most elusive senators on Capitol Hill. She doesn’t engage with Washington reporters in a serious way, doesn’t hold open-to-the-public events in Arizona and has effectively cut off communication with the local progressive groups that worked to get her elected in 2018. Her spokesman did not respond when I emailed him. Ian Danley, the executive director of Arizona Wins, a coalition of 32 progressive advocacy organizations, said his group had registered nearly 200,000 new voters and knocked on more than two million doors in support of Ms. Sinema’s 2018 campaign.

She has not once met with his group or its partners since taking office in 2019, he said. That, Mr. Danley said, prompted the frustration that led to the viral ambushing of Ms. Sinema over the weekend in a bathroom at Arizona State University, where she teaches classes on social work and fund-raising. Activists from Living United for Change in Arizona, one of the groups in the Arizona Wins coalition, pressed Ms. Sinema to support the $3.5 trillion Democratic legislation that would expand the social safety net. “What’s she supposed to do, she asked for a meeting — they tried to go meet with the staff and the senator, that doesn’t happen,” Mr. Danley said. “That’s a breakdown of constituent services, a breakdown of leadership — that’s not the fault of young people who are trying to lobby and influence their elected officials.” Ms. Sinema, in a blistering statement, called the bathroom episode “not legitimate protest.” Another activist tried without success to engage Ms. Sinema on her flight to Washington from Phoenix on Monday and there was another group waiting for her at Reagan National Airport. There, she pantomimed listening to something on her iPhone, which was odd because during the flight she had her AirPods in.

What happens next with Ms. Sinema is anyone’s guess. Unlike Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, her fellow Democratic holdout on Mr. Biden’s legislation, Ms. Sinema hasn’t publicly articulated what she wants from the negotiations, a development that got her skewered on the latest episode of “Saturday Night Live.” Perhaps the thing to know about Ms. Sinema is how she views her own political metamorphosis. After beginning her career so far on the liberal end of politics that she refused to take campaign contributions (“that’s bribery,” she said while running for the Phoenix City Council in 2001) and wrote letters to the Arizona Republic condemning the very idea of capitalism, Ms. Sinema has gone to great lengths to define herself as the opposite of what she was before. “When I was young, I was passionate and excited and energized and wanted to help people in my community and change the world,” she told me in the 2018 interview. “What I’ve figured out is when you’re willing to work with people, even those with whom you sometimes disagree, when you work with people who are different from yourself, you can find common areas of agreement and achieve good things.” Ms. Sinema has finally swung so far around that the people she used to disagree with are now her allies. Her old allies, who now disagree with her, no longer have any hope she’ll work with them.

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Tue Oct 5, 2021, 11:56 PM

1. Sad. And infuriating. nt

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Wed Oct 6, 2021, 12:04 AM

2. Gotten by the grift?

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Wed Oct 6, 2021, 12:28 AM

3. She went to the darkside

For $$$$$$$.

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Response to I_UndergroundPanther (Reply #3)

Wed Oct 6, 2021, 02:31 AM

5. It's likely there was never any "there" there to begin with.


When your convictions have the weight of a feather, it only takes a couple of bucks to overturn them.

I was thinking that, if (God forbid) we lose the Senate in 2022, she would flip parties in order to stay in the limelight.

But, now I think she may do it regardless of the election's outcome.

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Response to LudwigPastorius (Reply #5)

Wed Oct 6, 2021, 07:24 AM

10. One huge problem among pols coming from the farther left I've seen

tends to be changeability. Instability due to personality. Changeability to suit political situations. Not all are prone, of course. But without a strong party with a stable ideological base, shifting to maintain relevance and take advantage of the various current passions and issues is necessary.

Also, and extremely common, the farther from the big mainstream voting bloc of a party, the more pols find it necessary to..."fudge" what they believe -- or to actively deceive -- to sell themselves to more people.

On the people side, a minority frustrated for attention and influence tend to be suckers for pols who agree with them. Minority factions or movements offer a route in for people who aren't gaining traction among all the competition for the large mainstream vote.

I think it's likely all these may apply in some way to Sinema. But changeability and all this weaseling with progressive voters especially, though it suggests lack of integrity, doesn't have to mean lightweight. She seems very strongminded to me.

And while she actively deceived out the left side of her face to get elected, she seems to be coming through with what she promised indies and people more right. She also promised everyone she wouldn't be a good, go-along Democrat; "progressive" groups might have liked what they thought she meant by that but misunderstood.

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #10)

Wed Oct 6, 2021, 07:57 AM

13. +1000

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Response to LudwigPastorius (Reply #5)

Wed Oct 6, 2021, 07:58 AM

14. agree with everything you said here, down to the last line.

I intuit she's likely to switch sooner than we might otherwise expect. It wouldn't surprise me if we learn of a move like this today, tomorrow, next week.

I'm just wondering if and when she does, will the GOP back her re-election or will they primary her in that state. They might just back her if she started sounding off like Hawley, or Ted Cruz or MTG. etc. and/or if they don't have someone lined up by now who they feel could easily roll over her in the next election.

It's the only question in my mind at this juncture.

I understand our party activists in AZ may possibly have someone to primary her, but not sure about Schumer's support, all remains to be seen at this juncture.

In the meantime, I sure hope the hell we flip other Senate seats currently occupied by rethugs.






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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Wed Oct 6, 2021, 02:26 AM

4. "She was handpicked by Chuck Schumer ... for her fund-raising acumen"

"acumen" indeed.

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Wed Oct 6, 2021, 02:35 AM

6. typical republican plant that is a " DINO " ? republican's make more money !

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Response to monkeyman1 (Reply #6)

Wed Oct 6, 2021, 07:49 AM

11. Yes, the money's on the right because that's where the corruption is.

(Corruption in terms of building personal wealth and power.) Even on the right, though, only dysfunctional crooks would choose to chase illegal money while in politics when there's incredibly more to be picked up legally in private life.

So I really don't think it's about money for Sinema, who could have been amassing incredibly more by serving business in business. She may well want more now that she's older and until so recently didn't have any, but that's normal and different.

Politics itself is about power and/or ideology. McConnell's very famously in politics for power, while Biden equally famously has spent his life serving the people and has always refused to own stocks or bonds to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest. Neither even cared about it for most of their careers, though McConnell's now rolling in wealth laundered through his Chinese billionaire's-daughter wife.

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Wed Oct 6, 2021, 05:56 AM

7. This is a person who doesn't believe in anything.

It always shows when there is nothing at the core.

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Wed Oct 6, 2021, 06:29 AM

8. She fooled the Democratic Party leadership. Who is she really?

A GOP spy? A thoughtless wanna be? Who knows?

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Wed Oct 6, 2021, 07:20 AM

9. "When I was young, I was passionate and excited and energized and wanted to help people...

in my community and change the world."

Therein lies the dark side of pragmatic moderation; the abandonment of that type of passion and principles. So often those on the left of the political spectrum get lambasted with taunts like "they are letting the perfect become the enemy of the good." Yes there can be truth in that, but too often the need to forcefully advocate and fight for what it truly needed gets abandoned in the name of "moderation", which too often becomes a slippery slope that solidifies an unacceptable status quo.

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Wed Oct 6, 2021, 07:56 AM

12. She learned well from the "revolution" and

played the players.

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