PHOENIX — Walk the streets of Kyrsten Sinema’s old stomping grounds, Phoenix’s artsy Roosevelt Row, on a busy Friday night and you might see a dozen or so Kyrsten Sinemas, none of them flattering.
A local dance crew calling itself the Moderate Pixie Dream Girls, whose members dress in pink tutus and purple party wigs, perform on local street corners to protest the Arizona senator’s opposition to increasing the minimum wage or her resistance to immigration reform.
Stickers at the hipster coffee shop anchoring the neighborhood feature her face on a milk carton reading “Missing: Last seen defending the Jim Crow filibuster.”
At the national level, though, Sinema’s brand isn’t so much progressive betrayal as raw confusion. When Saturday Night Live parodied Sinema as one of two Democrats opposing President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, the writers knew how to have fun with her biographical details — “as a wine-drinking bisexual triathlete, I know what the average American wants” — and her fashion sense (“all the Scooby Doo characters at the same time”). But when it came to what motivates her, they drew a blank, settling simply on “chaos.”
Chaos isn’t a bad way to describe her impact in Washington right now; she’s not only holding up her own party’s biggest national priority, but she’s famously unclear about her reasons why. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), the other most-intransigent Democrat, can’t stop talking about his motives. Sinema isn’t even calling her friends. She’s rocketed into the national zeitgeist as an enigma, one of the least understood politicians in Washington.