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Steller column: The McSally-Sinema debate was like a parody of itself
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Steller column: The McSally-Sinema debate was like a parody of itself

Editor’s note: The only debate between Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, the candidates for U.S. Senate, took place Monday night in Phoenix. The debate was not broadcast live in Tucson, but it can be viewed online or on Wednesday at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 Plus, an Arizona Public Media station. This is columnist Tim Steller’s satirical memory of the debate as he watched it online.

Co-host Ted Simons: Good evening Rep. Sinema and Rep. McSally. Please tell the voters about yourselves.

Sinema: Thank you so much for sharing this evening with me. (Pause) I was born in Tucson, near the border, and that gave me so much deep insight into border issues even though I moved to Florida when I was 8. (Pause, breath.) During another period in my life, I was an anti-war activist, but that was ages ago and not worth talking about. (Pause) The other important thing to know about me is that I am bipartisan. (Pause) Congress is viciously partisan, but I am hardly even a Democrat at all!

McSally: I was born in a pile of bricks and glass in Rhode Island. Tough life made me a fighter. And then I joined the Air Force and kicked ass for your freedom unlike this pansy protester over here.

Co-host Maria Polletta: How would you have voted on the Brett Kavanaugh nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court?

McSally: Great judge. Excellent judicial thinker. I was a sexual-abuse survivor, so I know that the woman who accused him of sexual assault definitely got assaulted, but I also know for sure it wasn’t by him.

Sinema: My record of bipartisanship has been demonstrated in several ways. (Pause) First, I would consider the merits of every judge appointed, no matter what party the judge or president belongs to. (Pause) Second, the partisan orientation of that judge would not be a consideration for me because of my bipartisan nature. (Pause) Third, I was born in Tucson.

Polletta: But how would you have voted on Kavanaugh’s confirmation?

Sinema: Wasn’t it terrible how viciously partisan those senators acted during the confirmation hearing? (Pause) I will definitely not act like that when I am representing Arizona in the United States Senate. (Pause, sigh) But Martha is very partisan. She votes with the president 108 percent of the time.

Polletta: But how would you have voted on Kavanaugh?

Sinema: I’m really glad you asked that question. If you must know, the answer is no.

Simons: With Kavanaugh confirmed, the Supreme Court could overturn Roe vs. Wade. Is that what you want?

McSally: I’m as pro-life as the day is long, except when I’m in my A-10 Warthog — am I right, Iraqis?

Simons: So you would like to see Roe vs. Wade overturned?

McSally: No — why are you jumping to conclusions, nerd?!

Simons: You said you are strongly pro-life, so it follows that you want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade, right?

McSally: This chick here wore a pink tutu while I was flying my attack jet. And now all she does is say mean things about me. It’s so unfair!

Simons: Ms. Sinema?

Sinema: If I were on the Supreme Court, I am sure I could help Roe and Wade settle their difference in a nonpartisan way. (Pause) However, until then, no government official should interfere in a woman’s private medical decisions.

Polletta: One of the gnarliest issues has been border security and immigration. How would you solve those problems?

McSally: Me, I just go back to the same old border ranchers we talk to every election season — Jim Chilton and John Ladd. You know Ladd — cowboy hat and droopy mustache. Looks great walking along the border fence in our ads.

Polletta: Ms. Sinema?

Sinema: When I was born in Tucson, the border seemed so close. (Pause) You could smell the scent of tortillas in the air, and there was a quinceañera every weekend. (Pause, breath.) Now that I am a member of the problem-solvers caucus, I reach across the aisle to consult with Republicans on difficult issues that Americans so desperately want us to solve.

McSally: That’s a bald-faced lie. I’m right here, an Arizona Republican, and you didn’t work with me!

Sinema: That’s because, Martha, you are too partisan. (Pause) You demonstrated this by working exclusively with Republicans on your immigration plan and on your health-care plan. (Pause) Speaking of that plan, you are trying to rob our Arizona seniors of their hard-earned Medicare benefits, not to mention their Social Security.

Simons: Another question —

McSally: That’s another bald-faced lie! This Wiccan with all her lies — she’s guilty of treason! Lock. Her. Up. Lock! Her! Up!

Simons: Excuse me. I’d like to ask you one last question, about global warming. Do you think it is happening, and do you think people are causing it? Ms. Sinema first.

Sinema: It is so hot in Phoenix, and in Tucson, too, where I was born. (Pause) And yes, it feels like it is getting hotter every year. (Pause, sigh) However, it could not possibly be relevant whether people are causing the climate to warm. (Pause) If we even knew what the cause is, how could we possibly use that information? (Pause) I will, however, ask the bipartisan problem-solvers caucus to consider thinking about this.

Simons: Ms. McSally?

McSally: This is the last question — and you still haven’t asked me about blasting my Gatling guns. What the hell? C’mon, I want to answer more questions!

Sinema: I agreed to debate you in Tucson, but you wouldn’t agree to it.

McSally: A bald-faced lie! Treason!

Contact: or 807-7789. On Twitter: @senyorreporter

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