Kyrsten Sinema's Hilary Rosen Moment, and Her Persistent Verbal Flubbery
Sinema's statement on Iran starts 2:48 in, her comments on health care at around 6:03
The flap over center-left talking head Hilary Rosen and her perceived insult of Mitt Romney's wife Ann offers a perfect example of how mere verbal flubs can offer ammunition to right-wingers in the highly-charged partisan discourse of an election year.
Rosen is a very capable partisan warrior, and the reason I call what she said about wealthy homemaker Ann Romney a "perceived" insult is that I don't think she intended her statement to be taken as it has been by so many.
Instead, her critique was aimed more at multi-millionaire Mitt Romney's disconnect with the common man. Problem is, Rosen said it in a way that seemed to disparage the contributions of stay-at-home moms, stating, infamously, that, Romney's wife, "has actually never worked a day in her life."
Read in context, I know exactly what Rosen was trying to say. After all, how many women can afford to stay home with their children?
Most moms can't, even if they want to. That's not to slight those moms who can, it's just economic reality.
But it was the way Rosen made her point that now has every Democrat from the White House on down apologizing. And that's where I come to former state Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a contender for the Democratic nod in Arizona's newly minted Ninth Congressional District.
Some observers give Sinema a better than fair chance of taking the nomination in the three-person primary, state Senate Minority Leader David Schapira and ex-Democratic Party Chair Andrei Cherny being the other two runners.
Sinema probably has the edge on name recognition, and she is still well-liked by many Ds, despite comments she's made that have enraged party liberals. We should soon know how much she and Schapira have raised in campaign donations. Cherny's camp has already announced receipts in excess of $400,000.
However, Republicans are lining up for a chance to take on a Dem in CD 9, with a crowded field led, putatively, by former Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker. The district was drawn to be a competitive one, and if Dems place put their hopes in Sinema, they may be in danger of losing to a well-funded Republican.
Why? The reason is that Sinema has always suffered, and continues to suffer from foot-in-mouth disease. For example, in a weird, 2006 interview with the Scottsdale nightlife magazine 944, she said a passel of things that are sure to be brought up by a GOP opponent, including this one, which is far worse than what Rosen said:
"These women who act like staying at home, leeching off their husbands or boyfriends, and just cashing the checks is some sort of feminism because they're choosing to live that life. That's bullshit. I mean, what the fuck are we really talking about here?"
The quote got Sinema in hot water at the time, even though she quickly walked back on them, claiming that the interview was meant to be an over-the-top Daily Show-type spoof, and that she really did value moms of all stripes.
But odds are pretty good that a Republican opponent in a general election will use such remarks against Sinema, even if her Democratic opponents in the primary shy from mentioning them.
That's a point I made in a January column, where I highlighted some doozies Sinema had uttered that ticked off progressives. Those statements are nothing compared to what she'll face in a general election.
Moreover, Sinema continues to feed the beast with her flubbery. On a recent edition of Channel 3's Politics Unplugged, she appeared with Cherny and Schapira, and on two key questions -- the threat of a nuclear Iran and the possibility of the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Obama's health care reform, she tripped, badly.
On the second issue, Sinema had this to say:
"You know, it really doesn't matter whether the Supreme Court upholds or doesn't uphold the law. The bottom line is, and what I mean by that is, we're still going to have a health care crisis in this country. Right? So whether or not the law is upheld or not upheld, we still will have millions of people who are uninsured..."
Really? It doesn't matter if a health care reform plan that extends coverage to tens of millions Americans is kicked to the curb by the Supremes?
I find that an incredible statement coming from someone who on her website touts being, "part of national team of state elected officials who worked to help craft America's new health care law."
Sure, President Obama's health care reform was far from perfection, but Sinema's nonchalance regarding an adverse decision by the high court is bewildering considering that she supported the law and claims to have worked on it.
Neither Cherny nor Schapira, as you can see in the video embedded above, echoed Sinema.
Cherny even went so far as saying that if the court rejects health care reform, Congress should look into impeaching Justice Clarence Thomas for not recusing himself from the case because of his wife's lucrative anti-health care activism.
Concerning the possibility of an Iran with nukes, Sinema seemed to step in it again, when she suggested war might be in the offing, after stressing the importance of sanctions, working with allies, diplomacy, etc.
"And again, we have to keep all options on the table," she explained, "to ensure that Iran doesn't have this ability [to make a nuclear weapon]. If they do, I think we're facing a very, very real threat of a potential world war."
I expect the Republinuts to saber-rattle and make such doomsday predictions, but I would hope that the Dems would keep their heads about them. Casual talk of world war unnecessarily heightens tensions rather than calming an already volatile situation.
Cherny's response threw water on Sinema's statement, saying that the U.S. has to do "everything [it] can to make sure that world war doesn't happen," but he was clearly aghast at what Sinema had just said.
Schapira quoted Albert Einstein saying that after World War Three, World War Four would be fought "with sticks and stones." He stressed the need to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran from happening, but suggested a less bellicose route.
"I believe, again, that the U.S. has to work with international partners to implement crippling economic sanctions," he stated.
For all of Sinema's time in public life, her advanced degrees, and her obvious intelligence, her propensity for making dumb statements is troubling.
Being in the minority in the state Legislature is one thing, running for Congress should raise the bar. The 2012 general election will be unforgiving when it comes to such flubbery.
The Dems should consider themselves warned. I'm not looking forward to saying, "I told you so," on this one.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.