Politics Sinema's no Manchin, no McCain and no maverick
War of words heats up between Sanders, Senate moderates in budget fight
Joe Manchin and Bernie Sanders this week indicate that congressional Democrats’ moderate and progressive wings are still far apart when it comes to a budget deal. The budget deal contains many of the White House’s legislative priorities, what President Biden calls the Build Back Better plan, on which he campaigned. © Provided by Yahoo! News Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., at a news conference outside his office on Wednesday. (Andrew Harnik/AP) Progressives in the House have refused to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill, negotiated by Manchin and other moderates from both parties, until a budget deal is agreed to.
Sen. Kirsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) may think she comes off like a maverick, but to many she looks more like a one-term senator. She appears to have chosen and private equity connections over her constituent's best interest; the type of political malpractice that could open the door for Rep. Ruben Gallego (D), a , to jump from Congress into the Senate.
Sinema is in danger of becoming a political Icarus, a politician who flew too close to the sun and forgot they too could get burned. She's been criticized for her on major issues and support of Republican talking points at the cost of her own constituents. The most important bill since the Affordable Care Act is sitting in limbo and it looks like she cares more about than finding areas of compromise. in her state support reconciliation, in spite of her less-than enthusiastic attitude.
Joe Biden complains Kyrsten Sinema is ignoring his calls — but she talks to Mitch
Sinema says she won’t negotiate publicly. But Democratic leaders say she's not negotiating in private either Mitch McConnell and Kyrsten Sinema Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images
While voters may have believed they were electing a self defined progressive to the Senate, she's turned out more like a Republican with Democratic tendencies. , from 2013 to 2019, she's never voted with her party more than 75 percent of the time - a percentage over 15 percent lower than her idol, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and unnecessarily low for a state trending more than red.
It's one thing to be moderate in a state like West Virginia, where Sen. Joe Manchin (D) defied the odds and held on to a seat despite Donald Trump winning by nearly . It's another thing to deceive your constituents and misrepresent what type of Democrat you are and cause harm to the very people you are supposed to protect. Let me be clear, Sen. Sinema can vote however she wants and is only beholden to the people of Arizona, but she at least owes her constituents an explanation, not silence and indifference. Arizonians shouldn't have to guess where the Senator stands on reconciliation, or whether she'll support reconciliation. She should be clear and transparent.
Kyrsten Sinema Is Unfriending Her Network Into Oblivion
When people ask Kyrsten Sinema if she wants to run for president someday, the Arizona senator usually has a stock answer: “I’m overqualified.” That response, relayed to The Daily Beast by a former friend, is vintage Sinema. It’s quick and witty but also self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating all at the same time. The quip also sheds a rare bit of light on a political figure on center stage in Washington who is, all the while, paradoxically guarded and enigmatic. For many people both inside and outside the Beltway—who are hanging on her every maneuver around President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda—Sinema is a mystery.
The irony is that for all of her criticisms of progressives and attempts to poorly mimic McCain, she is far more likely to be voted out of office than Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) or any other member of the squad when she faces reelection. Her giddy performance theater on minimum wage, combined with her dismissive, when questioned by reporters, make her appear cold and mean spirited - traits John McCain would never be labeled.
Given Sinema's monopoly on bad headlines, one would expect a change in strategy or reading of the tea leaves. Instead, Sinema has shown an unwillingness to even consider a carveout for special circumstances, like passing a desperately needed .
But If she's brave enough to enthusiastically deny Arizonians a $15 minimum wage with an overly performative thumbs down, then you would think she would be brave enough to sit down with a serious reporter, explain her thought process and treat her constituents like adults. They may even reward her honesty, even if they disagree. Instead, her arrogance sets the table for a charismatic war vet to potentially give her a run for her donor money.
Kyrsten Sinema Isn’t Hitting the Panic Button
The Arizona senator doesn’t seem rattled by progressives’ threats to primary her—and it’s not clear she should be.But Sinema does not seem rattled by any of it—and it’s not clear that she should be. Unseating her would be difficult. She isn’t up for reelection until 2024, so any primary challenge is years away. Voters’ memories are short, and the political landscape will be different by then. Ousting a sitting senator is a dubious project, and even if lefties were to defeat Sinema with one of their own, a more progressive candidate might find it harder to win a general election.
Arizona may be a moderate state, but it is no West Virginia and she is clearly no Joe Manchin. For all of Democrats disagreements with Manchin, he's not only been consistent, but transparent in his beliefs - something that can't be said for Sinema. She may be attempting to do her best John McCain impersonation, but she lacks the very things that made him a "maverick" and a rarity in the Capitol; the courage of her convictions and the ability to grasp the importance of the moment. Up to this point, she's failed to show an understanding of the power that she currently yields or an ability to be part of a team.
Sinema can either help Democrats strengthen their argument for the upcoming midterm elections, or she can destroy their chances, thus handing power to Republicans. Unlike most members of Congress, Sinema has actual power; the type of power that most politicians only dream of. The question that has gone unanswered for far too long, is how she plans to use that power.
Her choice will have far and wide consequences: Consequences that could lead to her constituents changing course and looking at someone with a history of putting service to the country before all. Voters are not stupid and will only put up with so many donor dinners and vacations during session. Members of Congress work for their constituents and it would serve her well not to forget that.
The senator's political future is on the line, and the wrong choice could leave her permanently on vacation. Sinema wouldn't be the first or the last to forget who she serves, but it's not too late to change course. The question she has to ask herself is whether she has any desire to.
Michael Starr Hopkins is Founding partner at Northern Starr Strategies.
Manchin Says Spending Deal 'Should Be' Reached This Week, Sticks By $1.5T Top-Line Number .
Manchin has opposed the proposal's efforts to expand Medicare, fund child care and fight climate change.After weeks of negotiations between Manchin, fellow moderate Democratic Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democratic progressives and Democratic President Joe Biden, Manchin told reporters on Monday that he believed a framework on the spending package "should be" feasible this week.