Froma Harrop: Sinema needs to be always in our face

The New York Times has run several pieces noting Sinema's fashion choices. In one opinion, they discussed the elephant in every room Sinema entered with considerable restraint.

Froma Harrop
Froma Harrop
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Almost nobody likes Kyrsten Sinema. Some 57% of Arizona Democrats hold an unfavorable view of their U.S. senator, who just declared herself an Independent. Republicans dislike her almost as much, according to the AARP poll. Independents are more mixed but give her a minus-10 approval rating.

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It's not Sinema's political independence, which is real (though shielding hedge fund moguls from the tax rates imposed on the police guarding their estates is simply corrupt). It's the thing we're told we can't talk about: her need to be the center of everybody's attention all the time by flashing childish, sexy and generally kooky dress. Sinema is a mature woman who appears on Capitol Hill in short flowery frocks, green wigs and tight silver evening attire that my high school would have banned at the senior prom.

The New York Times has run several pieces noting Sinema's fashion choices. In this opinion, they discussed the elephant in every room Sinema entered with considerable restraint.

But three female Senate colleagues wrote a letter that slammed such reporting as "demeaning, sexist and inappropriate." They were Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.

Sinema subsequently told Politico: "I wear what I want because I like it. It's not a news story, and it's no one's business."


Listen, doll, you can wear what you want, bellybutton reveals included, but you don't decide what's a news story. And the public gets to decide what is its business.

Personally, I don't care a fig about bisexual Sinema's love life, but what happens in the halls of Congress I care very much about. And her exhibitionism crowds out everybody else doing the people's business and trying to convey that business to the media.

In their letter of protest, Collins, Murkowski and Shaheen said that "Senator Sinema is a serious, hardworking member of the Senate who contributes a great deal to the policy deliberations before us." Well, that's her job, is it not?

The three female senators went on: "We cannot imagine The Times printing similar pieces on the fashion choices of any of our male colleagues."

Oh, really? Suppose a congressman showed up on the House floor dressed for disco in a John Travoltian lavender suit with bell bottoms and a hairy chest. How about a red spandex track suit outlining his privates? The political press has yet to be so tested, but the assumption that it would not take notice in the case of men seems highly unrealistic.

The Times, by the way, did a news story just on Donald Trump's ties.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, a New York Democrat, got a lot right when, in response to Sinema's declaration of political independence, he tweeted: "Bye Felicia, This isn't about the party this is about your pharma donors! Stop lying!"

He was right about her slavish defense of abusive drug pricing, but the Felicia reference also hit the mark.


In the 1995 movie "Friday," a character named Felicia makes a pain of herself by always asking to borrow things. Ice Cube, the rapper turned actor, eventually waves her off with "Bye, Felicia."

The phrase "Bye, Felicia" appears in memes, GIFs and hashtags to express disregard or indifference -- to dismiss someone who is "usually irrelevant and annoying," according to the Urban Dictionary. It is directed at a person you want to get out of your face.

The issue here isn't dressing to show one's independence. It's dressing to show one's seriousness, something that even Tuesday Addams could do in her goth outfits.
We can't discuss Sinema's need to hog everyone's attention by dressing in clown outfits? Here's news for defenders of Sinema's sartorial disrespect for the political process: We can.

Froma Harrop is a nationally syndicated columnist whose work is published regularly in the Grand Forks Herald.

Froma Harrop covers the waterfront of politics, economics and culture with an unconventional approach. She takes public policy quite seriously. Herself, less so.

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