Wednesday, July 10, 2024

the last book I ever read (The Last Politician: Inside Joe Biden's White House and the Struggle for America's Future, excerpt three)

from The Last Politician: Inside Joe Biden's White House and the Struggle for America's Future by Franklin Foer:

For his primary negotiating partner from the other side of the aisle, Portman worked with Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Even among the small group of moderate Democrats in the gang, there was a sense that Portman outfoxed them with his choice. Sinema could generously be described as mercurial. When she first ran for Senate in Arizona in 2018, she faced accusations that she exaggerated her up-from-poverty biography for dramatic effect. In a short time, she went from being an activist affiliated with the Green Party to the sort of politician that activists hounded. Yes, she transgressed the unspoken sartorial rules of the stodgy chamber with adventurous fashion choices. But she also zealously raised money from business interests, and her voting record reflected that alliance.

Portman and Sinema were fellow moderates, but profoundly different creatures. Portman had spent years preparing budgets and negotiating with foreign governments on behalf of the United States. He fixated on details. His colleagues complained about how tight he held the purse strings. Where Portman traveled with a small army of wonks—he usually brought a war room full of staffers with him to negotiations—Sinema would show up in his office with just her chief of staff. It was asymmetrical warfare, and the Democrats knew it.

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