Striking while the iron’s hot is a good rule in politics. Unfortunately, in Krysten Sinema, Democrats have their own ice machine.
Sinema’s unwillingness to even state to fellow Senators what her demands are has killed the momentum for President Biden’s agenda that existed earlier this year. The upshot is that Sinema, along with fellow Senator Joe Manchin, is helping to tank Biden’s presidency even as she’s dragging her own approval ratings down.
The logic behind Sinema’s political murder-suicide strategy is impossible to understand. Clearly, her ego is large enough to believe she’s the only wise person in the room. (That’s not an uncommon problem among politicians.) Her obstructionism is being rewarded with fundraising checks from the pharmaceutical and financial industry, which is validation of a kind.
But mostly what Sinema is doing is just angering her former allies and friends.
“A lot of her longtime friends and confidants are no longer there. No one knows, to be honest, where she’s at.” one Democratic source in Arizona told Daily Beast. Another said that she no longer has allies in the state party. “She’s burned so many bridges with the allies she used to have,” this source added.
Unfortunately, Sinema seems intent on spreading her own falling poll numbers to the president. The lack of movement on legislation is a major factor in Biden’s slipping approval ratings. And Sinema is a key reason why nothing is moving in the Senate.
At the same time, public support for Biden’s ambitious legislation is also waning. Many parts of the proposed agenda poll well. Voters favor investing in infrastructure, reining in drug costs and expanding child care credits. But as months have passed without any action, voters are less enamored with the overall package.
In large part, that’s because the media’s shorthand for the Build Back Better agenda is its price tag: $3.5 billion.
The elements of the package have been chronically underreported. Moreover, the lack of progress on the bill is blamed on “moderates” like Sinema and Manchin, even though many Democrats far more moderate that Sinema are on board with the legislation.
The truth of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress favor the legislation. It’s only a handful of them, led by Sinema and Manchin, who are holding things up.
Calling Sinema a moderate gives her far more credit than she deserves and makes her sound much more reasonable than she is. For your average voter, “moderate” sounds pretty okay, particularly when you’re talking about a lot of taxpayer money.
In fact, Sinema is better classified as an obstructionist. At least Manchin is willing to stake out a negotiating position. Sinema just won’t say what she wants.
“Senator Sinema’s position is that she doesn’t negotiate publicly, and I don’t know what that means,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said.
Whatever her reasons, Sinema’s antics are ruining Biden’s chances for a successful presidency, particularly going into a tough midterm election. The Democrats’ best hope for hanging on to Congress may well be Donald Trump and his fixation with relitigating the 2020 election.
Unfortunately, in Sinema, Republicans may have their own secret weapon as well.