The president’s gigantic social projects depend on two senators, and one of them, Kyrsten Sinema, is an unexpected obstacle.
Kyrsten Sinema made history as the first ever female senator to represent Arizona, the first openly bisexual member of the U.S. Senate and only the second openly LGBTQ person in the Senate after Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Her political trajectory is even more unusual, as she has swung from the left wing of the Green Party to the Democratic Party right wing.
Sinema and her colleague, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, have become the two biggest obstacles to Joe Biden’s spending plan, although he has the enthusiastic support of the left wing, eager to see $3.5 trillion pour into different projects, from day care centers to green economy.
Manchin has always been a moderate advocate of good fiscal behavior. Sinema is the surprise in this courting of votes in the Senate, where all 50 Democrats and the tiebreaker Vice President Kamala Harris must vote to pass bills that have no Republican Party support.
Not only does Sinema think the $3.5 trillion package is excessively wasteful, she is also against raising corporate taxes, which does not bode well for progressives.
Having become the preferred target of many left-leaning critics, Sinema has felt firsthand what it means to become a villain. She was confronted and filmed by a group of activists who approached her on the way out of a classroom where she was a professor in the social work department at Arizona State University. The activists followed her into the ladies room and did not stop filming even at a most private moment, something which should be a protected right for all citizens.
The video went viral ,and the 45-year-old senator earned additional points with the right wing, a highly unlikely position for a politician who also has a daring style when it comes to fashion.
What is she thinking?
“People who want to think they can understand her or get to her, let me tell you, you can’t,” wrote New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, a member of Sinema’s circle, turning Sinema’s Dutch name into a pun — cinema, pronounced the same way — by making her the star of her own movie.
“It doesn’t work that way with her. She doesn’t think in a linear process, like ‘OK, will this impact my reelection?’ She just beats her own drum. When she leaves in the middle of something and says, ‘I got stuff to do,’ it’s because she has plans. Sometimes she’s just more interested in training for an Ironman. More power to her, man. It’s like watching a movie,” said a politico in her circle.
Sinema has been called the sphinx and the Greta Garbo of Congress. The Los Angeles Times said it “makes liberal heads explode,”* noting that she is not only against the $3.5 trillion package. She also voted against increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and voted in favor of maintaining the filibuster in the Senate, another progressive cause that she has rejected.
Her independent spirit came to light when she voted against the nuclear deal with Iran in 2008 as a member of the House. Biden is now working hard to reactivate the deal that the renegade Donald Trump abandoned, and it’s hard to predict what will happen if Trump is reelected in 2024.
As an openly bisexual woman, Sinema was relatively spared by progressives and won praise when she took the Senate seat, a feat in Arizona.
Today, she is most popular in her state among women who normally vote Republican. Her former supporters call her a traitor and a narcissist.
Sinema’s aides are fond of saying that she is inspired by the style of John McCain, the late Republican senator from Arizona who, after being mercilessly whipped by the liberal press when he ran for president against Barack Obama, became a cult hero when he fell out with Trump.
Sinema says McCain is her “personal hero” and that she tries to emulate the senator’s caustic style.
To a congressional reporter who asked what she would say to progressives frustrated by not knowing whose side she is on, Sinema replied, “I’m in the Senate.” The reporter insisted that the Senate also had progressives frustrated by not knowing exactly where she stood. “I’m clearly in front of the elevator.”
Will the senator’s sphinx-like style push up against the realities of politics? Will she accept a negotiated solution to Biden’s trillion-dollar plan? How willing is she to pick a fight or give in? When will she take on the next Ironman?
Sinema’s latest movie is a thriller; we are all waiting to see how it turns out.
*Editor’s Note: This quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified.