HAYES: Since Kyrsten Sinema was first sworn in as a senator in January of 2019, she has been exceedingly busy. In March of 2019, she ran an ironman triathlon in New Zealand which she trained for running half marathons in her home state of Arizona. Then, two months later, she ran a marathon in California with a fast enough time to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
Now, this is, let`s be clear, exceedingly impressive. Now, this June, unfortunately, she broke her right foot while running a marathon in Washington State. But it`s not just running that keeps her busy. She is teaching two classes this fall at Arizona state university, including one titled developing grants and fundraising. Last summer, she worked a two- week stint as a paid intern at the California winery.
None of these activities are inherently bad at all. In fact, they all sound great, time-intensive but great, rewarding, awesome. Many politicians are active athletes. Many others teach college classes. But Senator Sinema appears to be doing all these things instead of doing her job.
As Mother Jones points out, she hasn`t held a single public town hall since being elected in 2018. Public events of any sort are a rarity just as they were during her Senate campaign. She does not hold press conferences. Constituents have been arrested this year for demonstrating outside her office.
This year, Sinema missed a key vote to establish a bipartisan January 6 commission saying only she had a personal family matter. Her most significant vote to date was in March when she used her whole body to give a thumbs down to the inclusion of a $15.00 minimum wage in the coronavirus relief package.
Now, she`s one of two key Democratic Senators holding up the entire Biden agenda. But instead of sticking around to hammer on a deal, she has left the country for a fundraising trip in Europe. Her spokesman said Sinema has continued to speak with President Biden and her Senate colleagues adding, “phones in fact work everywhere.”
I mean, sure, true. Still, it`s pretty weird behavior for a U.S. Senator. I mean, just here`s an example of what you could be doing. Look at say her colleague Chris Murphy. Chris Murphy is spending his recess doing his annual walk across the entire state of Connecticut meeting with people and talking to constituents across the political spectrum and all walks of life and listening their concerns because he represents them. That`s a thing you can do with your recess, one idea.
Now, on top of all this, Reuters is reporting that in an online meeting Sinema told fellow Democrats in the House of representatives this week, she will not vote for a multi-trillion dollar package that is a top priority for President Joe Biden before Congress approves $1 trillion infrastructure bill.
So, my question for Senator Sinema is this. What are you doing here? If you don`t meet with your constituents and you spend all your time doing everything except talking to them, legislating, all while holding up your party`s entire agenda, maybe you know, you don`t want to be United State senator. Maybe it`s not the job for you.
Ryan Grim is the Washington D.C. Bureau Chief for The Intercept. He has reported extensively on Senator Sinema as well as on dark money efforts to kill the Build Back Better Bill that contains the bulk of President Biden`s agenda.
I want to start here, Ryan, by just putting to the side like, there`s obviously an ideological issue here. Progressives are very frustrated with her. It`s unclear what she wants. But just putting that`s aside, like, this is strange the way that she is generally conducting herself as a U.S. senator is quite anomalous just across the political spectrum, even compared to someone like Joe Manchin.
RYAN GRIM, WASHINGTON D.C. BUREAU CHIEF, THE INTERCEPT: I`ve been covering congress since I guess what, 2006 and so you know, I`ve watched all sorts of negotiations unfold, immigration fights, the bailout, the affordable care act, Wall Street reform, debt ceiling, and now you know, this bipartisan infrastructure bill and this reconciliation package and all sorts of super committees and other gangs of six seven and eight in between there.
Nobody has ever seen anything like this. And so, you know, there`s an impulse out there to say look, stop trying to overanalyze Kyrsten Sinema. It`s quite simple. She raises a ton of corporate money and she`s doing the bidding of her corporate donors. No, you know, that analytical framework doesn`t work because so many other politicians who take so much corporate money aren`t behaving this way.
HAYES: Yes, correct.
GRIM: You need more. You need more.
HAYES: That is — that is a great point. I mean, I`ve been saying that to people also. Like, yes, clearly that`s part of it. And we should say that, you know, there was this leaked e-mail where no labels, the director of No Labels praised her work for heroic efforts on the infrastructure bill. It is also the case I will note, that when you don`t talk to actual constituents which she appears not to, then you do only hear from donors which is really a problem.
But even the lack of — like, you know, we were talking about this — Chuck Grassley was at the Trump rally, right? And you know, if you look at him, he`s in the background glad-handing. He`s like, you know, taking pictures and shaking people`s hands. It`s like that`s what politicians do. And you talk to people in Arizona. They`re like, we never see her, we can`t talk to her, she doesn`t come to the local Chamber of Commerce, she doesn`t come to like the, you know, the Yuma town hall like ribbon-cutting, like nowhere.
GRIM: There have been a few videos that have leaked over the last year of fundraisers that she`s held with, national — you know, the national corporate group, not the Arizona ones but like, you know, the biggest lobbies that represent, you know, the major industries. And she`s very normal in those videos, you know, just having a very casual back and forth, obsequious almost, telling them, you know, reach out to my staff, I want to do anything that I can do to be helpful.
It`s true — you know representative — legislating and lawmaking, you see like, oh, that is — that is how a representative, you know, works on behalf of constituents. And you`re like, that does — I don`t see that anywhere else except in this occasional leaked video.
HAYES: The other thing. I had — I just asked the staff before — with our producers before I came on here. Like, she`s teaching two courses. Two, really? That`s like the full teaching load. That`s a lot.
GRIM: It is a lot when the grading comes in. And you know, there`s been — there`s been a lot of reporting that, you know, her sched — her personal schedule comes first. You know, whatever meetings are scheduled around Senate business, you know, if she has something else to do train, you know, teach a course, I assume the internship at the winery did not overlap — you know, she was during recess — then she`s going to take that.
And in fact, the angriest that she has been all year long was when the Republicans blocked a time agreement that would have allowed her to pass her bipartisan infrastructure bill on the Senate floor faster. It would have shaved several days off of the time it took to pass it. And she got up on the on the Senate floor and displayed the only flash of emotion I`ve seen her show in the last year and really — and furiously objected to what Republicans were doing.
You know, she had — you know, she had been liking a bunch of wine tweets and she had this — she had this retreat that was scheduled and it got in the way of that — of that retreat, and she was absolutely furious at that — at that unfolding.
And — but to your point, the bipartisan infrastructure deal that she did strike, like, that that`s the most legislating she has done. Like, that was a significant accomplishment in the sense that it got more than 60 votes, it got — it got through the Senate. And she has spent the rest of the time imperiling that achievement while going around Arizona touting it as this significant accomplishment.
HAYES: Well, we`re going to see. I mean, the rubber is about to hit the road on this. I feel like the squeeze is on, the window is sort of closing. We`re going to see where this all ends up. Ryan Grim, that was great. Thank you very much.
GRIM: You got it.
UPDATE: I am seeing a trend among the pundit class – from the malignant, like former flak for the Golwater Institute and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, now the resident GQP apologist at The Arizona Republic, Robert Robb – trying to convince Kyrsten Sinema to become an Independent and maybe caucus with the Republicans, which would only put the “Grim Reaper of Democracy,” Mitch McConnell, and the Sedition Party that tried to overthrow American democracy on January 6, back in charge of the Senate. Sen. Sinema should become an actual independent. Did I mention this GQP apologist is malignant? This would kill the Biden agenda, and probably American democracy. As with all things Robert Robb, the only appropriate response is “fuck you.”
New York Times editorial board contributor Michelle Cottle makes a similar pitch today. I don’t know what her deal is. Is It Time for Kyrsten Sinema to Leave the Democratic Party? She seems to be something of a “Silent Sinema” fan girl:
Ms. Sinema’s better course may be not to leave the Senate but to split with her party. Her departure might even wind up being a positive for all involved.
[A] split still wouldn’t be easy. The logistics would be a nightmare. And while open relationships often sound great in theory, they can be excruciating to navigate. But Ms. Sinema has a better shot than most at not just surviving such a shift, but becoming a truly independent force to be reckoned with — maybe even a power broker for years to come.
This is what many of her critics miss. They see her as a chameleon, unprincipled and narcissistic, an intellectual lightweight without any steady, guiding tenets. But she does have a guiding principle. She holds fast to an abhorrence of the toxicity and dysfunction of the hyper-polarized political system, brandishing a potent combination of disgust, frustration and moderation that could, come to think of it, put her in sync with a big slice of Americans.
The only thing this delusional woman gets right is that “Ms. Sinema is, at heart, a Democrat of convenience and expediency…” True dat.
Tom Danehy at the Tucson Weekly, on the other hand, echoes my earlier post calling on Sinema to resign and allow a real Democrat to be appointed to her seat. Danehy: It Is Time For Kyrsten Sinema To Go (excerpt):
Here are 10 reasons why Kyrsten Sinema must go away. In fact, the very concept of Kyrsten Sinema must go away. And she must go away now. Not next year or, God help us, in 2024, when we Arizonans who actually give a damn about our state and country find a primary candidate to knock the multi-colored crap out of her.
We can’t recall her. The Republicans in the Senate certainly won’t do anything to her. She’s their staunchest (and strangest) ally. We’re going to have to trick her. We should get President Biden to appoint her as Ambassador to Cotton Candy Land, where everything is pink and sweet and there are no mean people trying to figure out what is bouncing around in that hollow head of hers.
9. We have no idea where she stands on anything. She doesn’t make statements, she doesn’t give interviews, she doesn’t do her damn job. It’s painfully obvious that what Kyrsten Sinema wants is for people to be obsessed with trying to figure out what Kyrsten Sinema wants. I’m firmly convinced that there’s no there, there.
10. She was elected under false pretenses. She caught the luckiest of breaks, running in a midterm year against a horribly flawed Republican candidate (Martha McSally) who had doomed her chances by tying herself to the worst president in United States history. (McSally would stupidly repeat that mistake in 2020, all the while being humiliated by Trump.)
I HATE that I voted for Sinema. She’s a fraud and a danger. Her political career is over. She can’t win in 2024. Republicans won’t vote for her because she’s not a Republican and Democrats won’t vote for her because she’s not a Democrat.
She should leave now before she can do any more harm.