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On the homepage today, I take aim at that the indifferent manner in which the mainstream press has treated the news that a group of left-wing activists followed Kyrsten Sinema into a bathroom and filmed her. Lamenting the lack of condemnation, I write:
Where I come from, “avoiding” others while using the lavatory is standard procedure. Being followed into the lavatory by angry crowds is not.
One imagines that this might be more obvious if the politics were slightly different. If, instead of a left-winger berating a moderate Democrat in the loo, a right-winger had berated a moderate Republican, it would have been the biggest news of the year. Within minutes, the occurrence would have had a name — the “Arizona Attack,” perhaps. Within a day, it would have been deemed to be representative of everything that was wrong with the American Right — and with the United States itself. Within a week, we would have been drowning in breathless TV segments, tendentious op-eds, and mawkish lectures about the sanctity of democracy in America.
As if to prove my point, all Joe Biden would say today (while laughing) was that the incident was not “appropriate” but that “it happens to everyone”:
President Biden on @SenatorSinema being harassed in the bathroom:
"I don't think they're appropriate tactics but it happens to everybody… It's a part of the process." pic.twitter.com/6KOFNBGsG4
— X Strategies LLC (@XStrategiesLLC) October 4, 2021
This is an astonishingly understated reaction — not only because Biden and his party have spent the last six months referring everything back to January 6th (which was, indeed, a national disgrace), but because Biden is talking here about a member of his own party. Thanks to his antics on Capitol Hill last Friday, the moderates in the Democratic party had already started to suspect that the president’s sympathies lay with the progressives. Now, having learned that he is unprepared to criticize the left of his party even when it films a sitting Senator in the toilet, they must be sure of it.
In and of itself, Biden’s stance is outrageous. As was the case under Trump, presidents have a responsibility to call out bad behavior when they see it. But it’s also politically baffling, given that he needs Sinema’s vote to pass even a watered down version of his agenda, and that he still needs to earn her trust. Had the president played this a little smarter, he could have condemned the intrusion at ASU as the indignity that it was without conceding a single one of the policy goals that are currently under dispute. Instead, he shrugged his shoulders. Absurd.