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Kyrsten Sinema – desperate

Kyrsten Sinema declared herself independent – in a desperate attempt to save her own brand in a campaign she’ll lose anyway.

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Last week, after Herschel Walker lost the Georgia Runoff, Senator Kyrsten Sinema when from D-Arizona to I-Arizona. Before the week ended, she made clear that she would still caucus with Democrats, not Republicans. (Nor did she try to persuade more Senators to disaffect from either Party and form an “Independent Caucus.”) So her move will not affect Democratic control of the Senate. Charles M. Schumer remains Majority Leader, and Vice-President Harris might still not need to attend the Senate to break ties. So why did Kyrsten Sinema do this? CNAV believes she did this out of desperation.

Brief update on the Twitter Files

For reasons of her own, which she has not yet revealed to anyone, reporter Bari Weiss did not release Part Three of the Trump Removal Twitter Files last night. Speculation is already rife. Is she a “Clinton-cide”? Did she discover another mole, someone Jim Baker recruited and left behind? Discussion under the “TwitterFiles5” hashtag took place in a “Twitter Space,” a sound-only conference. But that discussion did not cover the removal of Trump nor say anything about when that installment would appear. Thus far her most recent tweet is a retweet of Michael Shellenberger’s Saturday night thread showing how Twitter changed its rules as it went. CNAV continues to monitor the Twitter feeds of Weiss, Shellenberger, Matt Taibbi, and Elon Musk, and the TwitterFiles5 hashtag.

Kyrsten Sinema – independent, but not moderate

The best indication of where Kyrsten Sinema stands, and why she did what she did, lies on her Twitter feed. Here is her December 9 thread changing her D-Arizona designation to I-Arizona:

In the last tweet of the thread, she linked to this piece in The Arizona Republic explaining her reasons.

She observes, correctly, that the two Parties have moved far enough apart that little common ground remains. She then insists that she splits the difference between the two. But does she? Domenico Montanaro at National Public Radio would disagree. He cites Rebecca Cohen’s piece in Business Insider (through Yahoo! Sports) recalling a distinctly partisan moment in Sinema’s past. When Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) was trying to court Republican voters in a run for President in 2004, she (then a social worker) let him have it between the eyes:

He’s a shame to Democrats. I don’t even know why he’s running. He seems to want to get Republicans voting for him — what kind of strategy is that?

The main issue was the war in Iraq, which Lieberman supported. George W. Bush was waging it, and anti-war sentiment was then The In Thing for Democrats.

The filibuster she would not break

More recently, she pretended to sign on to the massive infrastructure bill from the Biden White House. But when the time came to change the Senate’s rules to let it go to debate with fifty votes plus Harris, she balked. Did she really value the traditions of the Senate more than that bill? Or did she not support that bill at all and was only pretending to support it?

But don’t get the idea that she was any kind of moderate. She voted for the (Dis)Respect for Marriage Act, and hails it in her Twitter feed. The day before her “independent” announcement, she even said that alternative lifestyles were the real normal.

Maybe she doesn’t realize that when she says that, she really says that traditional orientations are not normal. What does she know about the history of human lifestyle choices that others don’t? But one might as well ask that of Republicans who supported that bill, so let that pass for the moment.

The larger point is that she is still as leftist as ever. But she has never been fully simpatico with the Permanent Political Class. When she organized that anti-war protest, she was not an elected official. We now know that the War in Iraq was an Establishment project. But we also know that the Democrats played the perfect part of controlled opposition to that War.

Three motives for Kyrsten Sinema to call herself independent

Kyrsten Sinema has three reasons to call herself independent now. First, she might have strained her relations with the Democratic Party to the breaking point. The monkeywrench she threw into the gears of the Build Back Better Bill must still rankle with Leader Schumer. Leaders are known to damn Senators facing reelection (or primarying) with faint praise. Witness the other Leader, Mitch McConnell, letting Democrats win at last Midterms. (Including Sinema’s Senate colleague, Mark Kelly.) CNAV wouldn’t put it past Leader Schumer to pull a stunt like that when Sinema runs for reelection in 2024. No doubt Kyrsten Sinema has reached the same conclusion.

Second, being in either major Party means paying Caucus Dues. Caucus Dues, in the House and Senate, amount to a member’s annual salary. That money must come from somewhere – and it comes from lobbyists. And usually, corporate lobbyists are the only ones who can afford to replenish a member’s full annual salary, whether alone or in collaboration.A woman like Kyrsten Sinema no doubt thinks corporate lobbyists are made of the same “awful substance” with which Jack London famously said God made rattlesnakes, toads, vampires, and strikebreakers. So she would do anything to get shut of them. That would include resigning from the Democratic Caucus so she could get out of paying Caucus Dues.

The Arizona election mess

But her third reason might now be more pressing. The Arizona Secretary of State actually threatened members of a county board of supervisors with arrest if they did not certify her election as Governor. Kari Lake, her opponent, is now suing to overturn that result. A lawsuit means pre-trial discovery – and nasty publicity for the Democratic brand. Kyrsten Sinema must not be so willing to insist that Katie Hobbs won fair-and-square. Maybe she knows, or worries, that Kari Lake will win her case. Such an outcome would redound to the discredit of Democrats all over Arizona. And because those Democrats are loyal to an Establishment that has done her no favors lately, and might be looking to do her a mischief, she might have decided to break with that Establishment publicly, aggressively, and now. Kabuki theater? Oh, most certainly – for that’s how they play the game.

Will it help?

Again, Domenico Montanaro says no. She’ll still lose. To begin with, he cites this observation from the Pew Research Center:

Five decades ago, 144 House Republicans were less conservative than the most conservative Democrat, and 52 House Democrats were less liberal than the most liberal Republican, according to the analysis. But that zone of ideological overlap began to shrink…

Since 2002,… there’s been no overlap at all between the least liberal Democrats and the least conservative Republicans in the House. In the Senate, the end of overlap came in 2004, when Democrat Zell Miller of Georgia retired. Ever since, the gaps between the least conservative Republicans and least liberal Democrats in both the House and Senate have widened – making it ever less likely that there’s any common ground to find.

Pew tries to blame Republicans for moving further to the right – but contradicts itself by observing that Senator Zell Miller (D-Ga.) was the last conservative Democrat in the Senate. In any event, Kyrsten Sinema is no Zell Miller.

Nor is she all that popular – 37 percent approval according to an AARP survey. And those numbers hold across the board. Her fellow Democrats don’t like her any better than do Republicans.

In short, she was going to get “primaried” anyway. Running as an independent would avoid that. But now it turns the 2024 Senate race into a three-way race. A race she’ll likely lose – to a Republican. (Unlike Alaska, Arizona does not have ranked choice voting.)

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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Donald R. Laster, Jr

To put her change from D to I another way – I am stopping calling myself a Democrat, even though I am on the “Left” and support deviant behaviors and everything the “Left” does, but people hopefully will forget my real views and positions.


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