Editors Note: We’re re-running this piece from September 2021 this morning for obvious reasons.
Something must be in the water in Walton County!
Walton County began flying the Confederate battle Flag over its courthouse in 1964 during the heart of the Civil Rights movement. The flag was moved and replaced by another Confederate flag (the national flag instead of the battle flag) in 2015, but the The county which gave Donald Trump 75% of its Presidential votes in 2020 has only 75,000 residents, but has produced two of the nation’s most visible performative political gadflies in Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Destin) and US Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona). The Confederate flag still flies to this day down the street from where Sinema graduated as Valedictorian and not far from where Gaetz came of age.
Sinema was born in Arizona but spent much of her childhood in Florida. After graduating High School in DeFuniak Springs she went to BYU for college but eventually renounced Mormonism (sound familiar, we have a US Senator from Florida who did the same) becoming a left-wing advocate before meandering all over the political spectrum. One person familiar with Sinema from Arizona politics (before she was elected to the US House) tells me her entire public persona was about getting attention and media and therefore would do the most provocative things imaginable.
Both Gaetz and Sinema are masters of the performative art that comes when someone seeks office for attention and parks any sort of core conviction at the door. We’ve spent plenty of time on this site discussing Gaetz’s contradictory ideology and attention-seeking behavior, but have never really discussed that Sinema has an even longer record of behaving in exactly the same manner.
Senator Sinema has meandered all over the political landscape from Green Party activist, to anti-capitalist crusader, to Blue Dog Democrat who voted against Nancy Pelosi for Speaker TWICE on the House floor (those who don’t follow the Congress or never worked in DC may not realize how rare that is), to the single individual that may personally kill spending legislation badly needed to keep the US living standard high and the nation competitive globally. (Those who say Sinema needs to placate her constituents are missing that her Arizona US Senate colleague Mark Kelly who is up for reelection next year isn’t playing these sorts of games and has consistently supported the Administration this year).
One thing is consistent in Sinema’s career- she seeks attention which is something I have mentioned in the past links a fair number of those who fight the Democratic Party establishment, be they progressives or pro-corporate stooges, which is where Sinema now appears to sit.
The western panhandle has a history as a cradle of corruption – House Speaker Bo Johnson (D-Milton) and long-serving State Senator W.D. Childers (D-Penascola from 1970 to 1995, R-Pensacola from 1995-2000) went to jail and House Speaker Ray Sansom (R-Fort Walton Beach) resigned in disgrace amid a major corruption scandal. That later event led to Matt Gaetz’s big break as he won the Special Election to replace Sansom in the State House.
The county which is now best known for the movie, The Truman Show (filmed in Seaside and at the home where scandal-plagued Congressman Matt Gaetz grew up after his family relocated from Broward County, where his dad, later the State Senate President had co-founded the healthcare giant, VITAS, though Gaetz went to High School in neighboring Okaloosa where his father was Superintendent of Schools) . Walton County has had plenty of local scandal at both its Sheriff’s office and County government in addition to the Confederate Flag controversy which still hasn’t abated. This happened in the same period that Congressman Gaetz was becoming a fixture on Fox News and Newsmax TV. No doubt we’ll be spending much more time on Gaetz in the near future for one reason or another, but today let’s get back to Sinema.
Sinema graduated as the Valedictorian from Walton High School in 1992, but years later in 2018 as she was running for the US Senate contradictory accounts of her tough childhood emerged in The New York Times. No doubt Sinema had some hard times growing up in Northwest Florida, but the inconsistency of her accounts makes it appear she said certain things for emotional effect – much like her public political posturing demonstrates.
From this observer’s vantage point, Senator Sinema has made it very clear that she’s in this for the attention – she cannot even properly articulate what it is she wants from the Biden Administration’s spending bills. What she does seem to want to show is that she is fighting Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Nancy Pelosi as some sort of heroic warrior of virtue – not that different than Matt Gaetz’s deep conspiracy talk and shameless outward public lies like claiming on the House floor ANTIFA was behind the January 6 attack (trying to understand why the House did not properly discipline Gaetz for his comments on the floor is another matter we must discuss another time).
What we’ve learned in the last eight months is that Sinema has the same penchant for shameless self-promotion as Gaetz and similarly lacks any sort of true guiding moral compass. It’s no small irony a film about a fake world like the Truman Show was filmed in the breeding ground for two of the fakest and most sinister elected officials in the country.