So much for the healing power of a Supreme Court nomination. “I think we need to go hardball,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan, and not just on Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Ocasio-Cortez also tossed some shade at Joe Biden for his inability to push Manchin and Sinema into caving on the filibuster and suggested that progressives needed to go “brass tacks” on the Democratic president as well:
"I believe that the president was genuine and authentic in his assessment in believing that his decades in the United States Senate and his relationships would be able to bring Manchin and perhaps Sinema along — He was mistaken in that assessment," Rep. Ocasio-Cortez says. pic.twitter.com/EmvKi1BbK5
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 27, 2022
When it comes to Sinema, sign AOC up for the full-court progressive attack that one might otherwise think would be at least off the front burner for a while:
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said on Wednesday that supporting a primary challenger to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) such as Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz) would be “the easiest decision.”
While appearing on the “11th Hour” on MSNBC, Ocasio-Cortez was asked by host Mehdi Hasan whether she agreed with fellow progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who recently suggested he would support primary challenges against moderate Sens. Sinema and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
“I don’t believe she’s really given a compelling case as to why she should be re-nominated as the Democratic nominee for United States Senate in Arizona,” said Ocasio-Cortez.
“She has proven herself an obstacle to the right to vote in the United States,” the New York congresswoman continued. “She is not an ally on civil rights. It is becoming a precipice and rather contributing to the threat that we have in stabilizing our democracy. She is not standing up to corporate interest in fact, she is a profound ally to them. And I believe that, you know, she is not doing what voters in Arizona sent her to do.”
Did Arizona voters really send Sinema to demolish the filibuster and sign off on radical spending proposals and federalization of election law? Arizona may have tilted purple in the past two or three cycles, but they didn’t go full-on ultraviolet. Sinema understands her electorate a little better than AOC does, an electorate that disliked Trump and revered John McCain, which made them uncomfortable with MAGA candidates while ever-so-slightly preferring Joe Biden’s brand of centrism in 2020.
AOC confuses what her activist base wants with what Sinema’s constituent base expects. Ocasio-Cortez can afford to make that mistake; Sinema can’t.
Needless to say, the necessity of total Senate Democrat unity can’t be overstated now that Stephen Breyer is retiring. Republicans almost certainly won’t bother with pointless obstruction of his replacement’s confirmation process, but they will likely not pitch in to help out a nominee who can’t get 50 votes from Chuck Schumer’s caucus, either. (Imagine the blowback a Republican would get for voting to confirm a Supreme Court nominee that Joe Manchin and/or Sinema opposed.) This is a time for Senate Democrats to paper over their differences and act as though they can get something done, especially something as straightforward as a liberal-for-liberal exchange on the Supreme Court. The more progressives keep pushing primary challenges and indulge in name-calling, the less incentive Sinema and Manchin have to allow Schumer and other progressives a change at that opportunity for accomplishment.
I wonder whether former primary-challenge advocates like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders will shoot their mouths off about it over the next few weeks. They’re a bit more strategically adept than AOC is, and for the sake of the nation’s Strategic Popcorn Supply, perhaps they’ll demonstrate restraint. For a while, anyway.