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Gristmill: Senatorial Splendor

Thu, 11/04/2021 - 10:51

After reading an anguished, 1,383-word opinion piece starting on the homepage of The Times the other day, analyzing whether or how to discuss the manner of dress of Kyrsten Sinema, the Arizona senator, I found myself wondering aloud, “Maybe she’s nuts.”

I don’t know, would you wear thigh-high hooker boots to your job, let alone to the chambers of the United States Senate? Maybe that’s harsh; maybe she’s merely adding a splash of color to the dull proceedings, “just being herself.”

Or maybe you should call up online her bizarre curtsy on the Senate floor as she gave an emphatic thumbs-down vote to the meager $15-an-hour minimum wage proposal. Hostile, really, when you consider the context of the working poor. No wonder they’re staying away from jobs in droves.

The outlandish attire, the onetime progressive’s newfound concern for keeping the corporate tax rate low and love of drug companies — it doesn’t seem to add up, does it. For the connective tissue, don’t listen to me, listen to Jean Chretien: “In your country, in my country, all the politicians would be in prison because they sell their votes,” a hot mike in the 1990s caught the sitting Canadian prime minister saying to two European prime ministers, his anger at Congress and Bill Clinton mixing with incredulity.

I always thought that was particularly well said, wouldn’t you agree, Senator Manchin?

But I don’t come solely to kvetch. No, there are pipe-dream solutions to zeppelin skyward.

For one, if the two-party system is not only broken but corrupted, why can’t three be company? Why not resurrect the Bull Moose Party? We’ve always needed another Teddy Roosevelt to bust trusts (the tech monopolies), corral malign, no-conscience capitalists (the tech executives), dismantle political machinery (gerrymandering), and maybe for once find a way for government to do something for the American public without charges of “socialism.”

To wit: Two modern-era Republican presidents who would no longer fit with the party, Eisenhower and Nixon, made moves toward some form of national health insurance as the right thing to do. Tricky Dick might’ve added to his remarkable early-’70s run of progressive legislation in this regard but for Ted Kennedy, who thought something better would come along later.

It didn’t. And another deal slips away . . .


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