SNL's Portrait Of Sinema Lives Up To The Best Traditions Of Journalism
Saturday Night Live doesn't normally get down into the weeds of politics as deeply as they did last night. That cold opening was something! But it sure caught Kyrsten Sinema just right-- the real villain and a person with very real psychiatric problems. I wonder how many Arizona voters who don't know anything about her-- other than the ads the banksters and corporations are running to make her sound palatable-- got a more accurate impression about who and what she is. The biggest newspaper in the state sure noticed:
It wasn’t pretty, but it was pretty funny. The show portrayed Sinema as out of touch and against pretty much everything.
And it didn’t waste any time-- it all happened in the cold open. If Sinema thought reportedly escaping from Washington to Arizona during the middle of a heated fight over important legislation involving a massive infrastructure bill would somehow keep her out of the public eye, it didn’t. At all.
Cecily Strong played Sinema, not for the first time, and it was like a greatest-hits package of everything that is frustrating so many people about Sinema not supporting a massive spending bill. Earlier Saturday Sinema said Democrats linking a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which she brokered, to their $3.5 billion human safety net measure was "inexcusable, and deeply disappointing for communities."
“What do I want from this bill?” Strong, in a really spot-on performance, said on the show. “I’ll never tell, because I didn’t come to Congress to make friends. So far mission accomplished.”
...As Johnson’s Biden ticked off various things none of them could agree on, he hit upon something that seemed safe enough: roads. Everyone likes roads, right? It went well until he got to Strong’s Sinema.
“I want no roads,” she said.
...And it was definitely locked in on Sinema.
What do you like, Johnson’s Biden asked?
“Yellow Starbursts,” Strong’s Sinema replied. “The film Polar Express. And when someone eats fish on an airplane.”
There’s a fine line between enigmatic and out of touch. SNL made that clear.
“Look, as a wine drinking, bisexual triathlete, I know what the average American wants,” Strong’s Sinema said. “They want to be put on hold when they call 911. They want bridges that just stop, and (a) car falls down. They want water so thick you can eat it with a fork. And I will fight for that, no matter what. Unless my foot hurts, then I’ll go back to Arizona.”
Accurately, Sinema was portrayed so negatively that even Joe Manchin came out as less of a monster than he actually is. Ilhan sure came off well! The brutal SNL sketch noted that Sinema succeeded in not making any friends in Washington. They're not counting Republican senators-- who all love her for derailing the Democrats' agenda.
But back in Arizona, Democrats have had it with Sinema. Her polling is in the toilet and if she had to face a primary this year, she would lose... to almost anyone. The new poll from OH Predictive Insights shows that among Republicans, Sinema's net favorability is underwater by less than 10 points. Less than half (48%) of Republicans view her in an unfavorable light, while 40% view her favorably-- a stark contrast to Senator Mark Kelly who is viewed unfavorably by 73% of Republicans. Among Democrats, Sinema’s net favorability is positive by only 26 points. She is viewed favorably by just 56% of Democratic voters, while nearly one third (30%) of her own party views her unfavorably. In comparison, Kelly is viewed favorably by nearly 80% of Democrats." The polling shows that Kelly is going to beat any Republican who runs against him. The likeliest GOP candidate is Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who Kelly would beat 43-39%. Trump hasn't chimed in yet and he well may dump all over Brnovich for not helping him overturn the election.
As for Sinema, the drive for a primary opponent has begun in a big way. One group, Nuestro PAC, is already trying to recruit Ruben Gallego, the progressive Arizona congressman who wanted to run last time but who was chased out of the race by a menacing Chuck Schumer in his desire to clear the field for Sinema. The Primary Sinema PAC, also launched last week, claims to be "[laying] the foundation for a successful primary campaign when a strong challenger emerges. State Sen. Martin Quezada: "I think that's the next step that people here in Arizona, activists and members of the party are going to take, is to start building that war chest to fund a possible primary challenge against her... We were willing to elect a more moderate Democrat to that seat. But what we weren't willing to do was to elect someone who was going to completely leave us high and dry on all of these issues, and she's crossed that line at this point. We thought we would get an independent thinker, we thought we would get a moderate Democrat, but a Democrat, a strong Democrat nonetheless. And we don't feel like we have that." The state party seems to be on the verge of holding a no-confidence vote on her unless she backs Biden's domestic policy agenda.
Joe Ferullo, formerly a top executive for both CBS and NBC and a writer of Dateline, penned an important OpEd, Journalism Has Comforted The Comfortable For Too Long Now, written before the SNL skewering of Sinema last night. It's not anything Sinema, Manchin, Gottheimer or Schrader, let alone any Republicans, will relate to themselves. Hopefully voters will relate it to the whole bunch of them. Ferrullo reminded his readers of a phrase coined in 1902 by a newspaper columnist in Chicago, Finley Peter Dunne: "The job of a newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." That has sure been turned on its head in recent times.
"As the Biden administration," wrote Ferullo, "pushes forward on social programs and foreign policy moves that have consistent voter support, the mainstream media too often under-reports that support, and instead headlines the rallying cries of the opposition and glosses over deeper reasons why expanding middle- and working-class benefits ignites such resistance in this country."
In all of this reporting-- on Biden’s proposals, on the end of the [Afghan] war-- the focus is on the powerful, influential and well-heeled. The “comfortable.” Few angles consider the “afflicted.”
There are many reasons for this-- and a lot has certainly changed in the news business since 1902. In order to survive, many news outlets now rely on subscriptions instead of advertising. Long gone are the days when you could pick up the morning paper at a newsstand for 25 cents.
Many working families can’t afford today’s prices, news subscriptions included. Many news outlets “brand” themselves to attract the kinds of people who have subscription money handy: the professional class. They would not consider themselves and their families “comfortable”-- but they aren’t very “afflicted” either.
...The “afflicted” can’t be ignored for long. Eventually, something will break.
Sinema came to Congress with a net worth of close to nothing. And now she;'s a millionaire. She should be rotting in a prison cell, not denying Americans fair wages, fair medical care, lower prescription drugs prices and all the other popular proposals she's preventing. But Congress defines "bribery" in a way to specifically allow criminal types like Sinema to take it without any accountability at all.