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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008
Sinema(tic) Spit Take

From John Fund's latest in the Wall Street Journal, this dealing with By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) and the Ward Connerly and his anti-affirmative action initiative (ACRI):

Other opponents of Mr. Connerly deplore the blocking and name-calling. Arizona State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema told me that initiatives have been used to pass ideas such as campaign finance and redistricting reform often opposed by entrenched legislators. "People have a right to sign a petition, hear the arguments and then vote," she says. Ms. Sinema thinks Arizonans can be persuaded to vote down ACRI's measure, much as they voted down a ban on gay marriage in 2006.

I am still cleaning up my coffee from my computer screen.

To be fair, Rep. Sinema has worked to separate her anti-ACRI movement, Protect Arizona Freedom, from BAMN and its works. BAMN tactics include harassing ACRI petition circulators and signers through aggressive confrontations. However Sinema's depiction of herself as sort of a live-and-let-vote idea, that ideas have the right to circulate in the marketplace of democracy is disingenuous.

A piece last month by Arizona Republic political reporter Scott Wong on Sinema's efforts while the ACRI petition was still in the signature-gathering stage helps provide context:

Connerly's group has engaged in “fraud and deception” and recruited racists and white supremacists to gather signatures for similar measures in Oklahoma and Missouri. And PAF contends Connerly used out-of-state petition circulators in Colorado, something that is illegal in that state and Arizona.

“We can’t have criminals going door to door gathering signatures. We can’t have petition circulators lying to voters,” Sinema, D-Phoenix, said during a Capitol news conference where she was flanked by a dozen Democratic lawmakers and other supporters. “Arizona law must be followed. …The Ward Connerly path of lies, deception and division ends in Arizona.”

I call that a drive-by. Stage a press conference, back your opponent into a corner by throwing a kitchen sink of allegations at him, say that he has to follow Arizona law even though there is no evidence he hasn't, and demand that he forestall any future allegations by crippling his signature-gathering efforts. Get some media coverage and a favorable write-up and off you go.

Rep Sinema may be working overtime to operationally separate Protect Arizona Now from BAMN but in a more subtle way she acts like a pulling guard in football; creating holes for others to follow or in this case creating a poisoned environment in which even extreme characters such as BAMN have room to operate. Coincidental? I think not. Rep. Sinema operates in 2 political worlds. By day, she is a state representative adept at working within the legislative framework and rules on issues such as gay marriage. By night she is a former member of the Arizona Green Party, community organizer with tactics reminiscent of Saul Alinsky, and running such projects as the "Truth to Power Hour" on the old Air America affiliate. This is an experienced, well-trained politician who knows what she's doing.

To accuse Connerly of "fraud and deception," use of illegal campaign tactics, and the use of criminals and racists in operations to further a project that many of Sinema's ilk no doubt feel is
illegitimate to begin with is... the rhetorical equivalent of throwing gasoline on the fire. To accuse your opponents of the lowest of tactics to further the lowest of ends, well what is a good progressive supposed to do but stop ACRI by any means necessary?

So why does Sinema get a pass on this?