Chris Wallace Grills Joe Manchin

The piling on continues.

The hard-working staff here at OTB is starting to feel bad about piling on the senior Senator from West Virginia, having accused him of being opposed to democracy and calling him a stupid ape yesterday alone. The man has feelings and so do people who love him.

Still, one can hardly ignore it when even Fox News is confused by why he won’t stop Republicans from putting a halt to ruining our democracy, especially when our readers (and hosts) are unlikely to have actually been watching:

Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday challenged Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who is refusing to support filibuster reform to pass a voting rights bill and other progressive initiatives.

“You said you oppose scrapping the filibuster,” Wallace noted. “The question I have is whether or not — and you say that you hope that will bring the parties together — the question I have is whether or not you’re doing it exactly the wrong way?”

“Hear me out on this,” the Fox News host continued. “If you were to keep the idea that maybe you would vote to kill the filibuster, wouldn’t that give Republicans an incentive to actually negotiate because old Joe Manchin is out there and who knows what he’s going to do? By taking it off the table, haven’t you empowered Republicans to be obstructionists?”

“I don’t think so,” Manchin said cautiously. “Because we have seven brave Republicans that continue to vote for what they know is right and the facts as they see them, not worrying about the political consequences.”

The West Virginia senator insisted that many of his “Republican friends” agree with him.

“I’m just very hopeful and I see good signs,” Manchin said. “Give us some time.”

Wallace interrupted to point out that Republicans had recently used the filibuster to kill a commission to examine the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“Republicans blocked that,” Wallace reminded the senator. “Sen. McConnell, the head of the Republicans in the Senate, says that he’s 100% focused on blocking the Biden agenda. Question: Aren’t you being naive about this continuing talk about bipartisan cooperation?”

“I’m not being naive,” Manchin objected. “I think he’s 100% wrong in trying to block all the good things that we’re trying to do for America. It would be a lot better if we had participation and we’re getting participation.”

Maybe we can hand out participation trophies, then?

FILED UNDER: Congress, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Scott says:

    My thinking is that Manchin realizes he’s from WV. That is all that matters. It would not shock me that Manchin is being worked on by McConnell and that he can switch parties with no consequences. The Governor did that. Keep piling on and he will do that.

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  2. Teve says:

    @shmr50

    It’s easier for progressives to think Manchin is a Bond villain , laughing manically as he thwarts the Democrats in return for secret donor money, than think that he and Sinema are just monumentally stupid. Turns out they believe the nonsense they spout.

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  3. Barry says:

    @Teve: The thing is that Manchin is a long term politician, who has an office that a lot of politicians in W. Va. want. Assuming raw stupidity here is assuming that he just magically beat out a bunch of people.

    Now Sinema is new, and a former Green, the party of magical thinking. It makes more sense there.

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  4. Wallace hits on perhaps that thing that vexes me the most about all of this: why proactively take his vote for SB1 off the table like this? As Wallace notes, that decreases rather substantially any incentive for the GOP to seek a compromise.

    If one takes Manchin at his word about the goal of “bipartisanship” this isn’t the way to generate it.

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  5. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    “Monumentally stupid” would explain why they would prefer to allow very partisan voter suppression state laws to flourish, rather than facilitate the passage of a federal law to stop such abuse, because doing so without GOP support looks “partisan.”

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  6. @Barry:

    Assuming raw stupidity here is assuming that he just magically beat out a bunch of people.

    On the one hand, I take this point.

    On the other, I have worked with enough successful people who have been successful for a long time who nonetheless have substantial blinders in certain areas and/or make the mistake that what worked in the past will continue to work in the present because, after all, look how successful they have been!

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  7. Scott F. says:

    “Because we have seven brave Republicans that continue to vote for what they know is right and the facts as they see them, not worrying about the political consequences.”

    “I’m just very hopeful and I see good signs,” Manchin said. “Give us some time.”

    That’s Manchin’s magical thinking right there. A little time and three more votes is all he needs to restore our democracy. He has fantasized a way to see this historically huge problem as a little problem, so he can keep to his position.

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  8. KM says:

    @Scott:

    that he can switch parties with no consequences

    Hah! If he believes that, he really is an idiot.

    The GOP couldn’t protect their own from being primaried out by QAnon nuts all over on multiple levels and wouldn’t save Liz Cheney, someone with serious R bonafides being purged from real power to a upcoming sycophant. Thinking Mitch will go to bad for him and that it will work is as delusional as the cops promising complete anonymous witness protection to Kim Kardashian. Manchin’s getting challenged by MAGAts and traditional R’s no matter what so why would he think it being in the primary rather then the general be a good thing?

    Manchin tries to go R and he’s toast – he’s only useful to them as THE obstructive Dem and not a turn-coat nobody with no weight. They’ll replace him in a heartbeat and won’t even wait till the seat’s cool to fill it.

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  9. Jen says:

    @KM: Republicans love, love, love the PR/propaganda value of party-switchers.

    When Bill Clinton was elected there were a bunch of Southern Dems who switched parties to become Republicans, at many levels of government.

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  10. Kurtz says:

    @Barry:
    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I think we have plenty of recent evidence that not so bright people reach the heights, especially in politics.

    -Partisanship

    -Many, if not most, voters don’t much attention to politics

    -a.) Many people seem to think everything they don’t do is easier than it actually is. (Look at how people discuss sports, something they likely spend a lot more time thinking about than policy.)

    -b.) They think this even though Presidents age before our eyes over the course of their term(s)

    -In some ways, many donors may prefer someone who isn’t all that bright.

    Our culture seems to invent ways to find another lowest common denominator like a drunken limbo dance.

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  11. Kingdaddy says:

    @Kathy: Joe Manchin, marriage counselor:

    “Your complaints about spousal abuse are one-sided. Until we can find common ground about how both parties are guilty of abuse, we need to take the abuse off the table.”

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  12. Kingdaddy says:

    @Scott F.: “Give us more time,” in Manchin’s hubristic worldview, means give him more time in the Senate cafeteria to high-five Hawley, Cruz, et al. in the hopes that they will stop being anti-democratic trolls. It’s a fantasy in which, of course, Manchin is the bipartisan hero. The idea that “Give us more time” is exactly what Republicans want to do to cement anti-democratic laws across the country doesn’t seem to occur to him.

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  13. MarkedMan says:

    @KM: I’m not so sure you are looking at this correctly. If he feels he is done as a Dem he can go right now and say “If you give me these committees and such and such promises, I’ll become a Republican tomorrow and vote Mitch in.’

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  14. KM says:

    @Jen:
    That was then; it’s far more important to them to keep the doom cycle looping and please Trump that harp on about somebody switching seats. The current GOP isn’t going to let a seat that can be given to a more reliable Stefanik clone when Manchin might break ranks and vote with the Dems if he felt like it. He’s not loyal, not to Trump or the party and that’s what matters right now. He’ll be expected to publically ass kiss often as the newest turn-coat and humiliate himself on the Altar of Donald’s Whims on command which I can’t see Manchin doing. PR’s only good if you can trot it out – what good is he if he won’t kiss the ring and spout the Big Lie to show he’s reformed?

    Manchin might be relying on the old logic like you’re suggesting but it’s a new day. QAnon isn’t going anywhere but rather mutating to become part of the GOP DNA’s for a long time. Trump’s approval – or to be more precise, being seen as theoretically having Trump’s approval – is paramount to making it as a conservative and he’s not getting that. He goes R and he’s gone next election to someone else that fits the conservative model better.

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  15. KM says:

    @MarkedMan :
    Oh, I’m sure offers were made. However, I’m just as sure someone pointed out to him what I’ve been saying – he’s only good to everyone in the position he’s in. He jumps and he’s useless to them once Mitch gets power again. His leverage lies in the threat, not the execution. There’s a lot more people who play hardball for a living involved in this so I’m certain they let him know he can have his candy if he stays and behaves but reminds him the nice man in the white van isn’t gonna give him shit once that door closes, no matter what he promises.

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  16. CSK says:

    @KM:
    Totally OT question: Why don’t you use the reply button? It makes it immediately clearer whom you’re answering.

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  17. KM says:

    @CSK:
    Much like with the elusive Edit feature, it only works part time for me. It’s easier to just copy the user name in then wrestle with it on my tablet or phone. (hoping it works this time…..)

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  18. CSK says:

    @KM:
    It worked!

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  19. Kingdaddy says:

    Because I will give even stupid apes as much benefit of the doubt as I can muster, I re-read Manchin’s op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Here’s how he closes it:

    American democracy is something special, it is bigger than one party, or the tweet-filled partisan attack politics of the moment. It is my sincere hope that all of us, especially those who are privileged to serve, remember our responsibility to do more to unite this country before it is too late.

    This is where any doubts about Manchin’s willful stupidity evaporate. First, he needs to stop lecturing us about how special American democracy is. We all feel that, including people who think that you’re doing nothing to defend that democracy while it’s under attack. It’s why we feel that something precious is being violated.

    Second, has the Senator noticed that democracy in America is under attack? Bipartisanship is only possible when both parties have faith in the same system of government.

    Third, has the Senator noticed that the Senate is just a body of 100 elected officials, in a nation of nearly 330 million? And that the other 330 million have some influence over what the 100 will do? Many of the 100 live in fear of their own authoritarian-leaning voters, or are just embracing authoritarianism and fascism for their own reasons. They can’t even denounce, loudly and clearly, a conspiracy theory based on the idea that Democrats rape and kill children. Whatever they tell the Senator about their reasons — we’re afraid of being primaried, we’re just waiting for Donald Trump to choke on a drumstick, etc. — doesn’t matter. They’re not living in the same political universe as the people who do think that democracy is sacred. Whether it’s by choice or necessity, they’re motivated by something else than the impressive achievement of getting Lisa Murkowski to join him in a bill that has zero chance of passing. Even a stupid ape can do that math.

    Meanwhile, in plain sight, they and their fellow travelers are doing everything that can to further wreck are already creaky democracy, to engineer permanent advantages and control. Occam’s Razor should help the Senator understand that they’re just not really into the whole bipartisanship thing, if they’re also not into the whole democracy thing. It’s already too late.

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  20. HarvardLaw92 says:

    He wants to be reelected. This is not exactly rocket science lol

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  21. @Jen: FWIW, the party switching was after the 1994 mid-terms, not in response to Clinton’s election in 1992.

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  22. gVOR08 says:

    @Kurtz:

    -In some ways, many donors may prefer someone who isn’t all that bright.

    For which see Reagan, R., Bush, G. W., and Trump, D.. Perfect R candidates. Possessing a weird blue collar charisma and dumb enough to believe what they’re saying. Otherwise, a hand with a pen.

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  23. DeD says:

    Voters vote for Republicans because they fight, dirty, tooth and nail. Nobody wants to vote for wimpy, mealy mouth Democrats. I’d rather wait for a larger never/anti-Trump coalition than continue debasing myself voting for these make-love-not-war wimps. I choose violence because that is what is coming down the pike. Everyone better gear up.

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  24. DeD says:

    @Scott:
    “Keep piling on and he will do that.”

    He’s gonna do it, anyway, Scott. I’ll bet you balls to bollocks that Manchin flips to GOP sometime soon. I forgot who wrote that in a previous thread, but I nodded my head vigorously at the prediction.

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  25. Mimai says:

    I understand the allure of the “dumb” explanation. It’s so simple. And so satisfying. And so lazy. (note, I too am a sinner)

    But surely it takes a fair amount of “un-dumb” to ascend to the upper echelons of US political power. And likely a fair amount more to stay there. Plus, he’s a college graduate. So I think it’s safe to say that he’s at least 1 SD above the mean in intelligence.

    Now of course, that puts him low on the distribution if we were norming according to the OTB commentariat. But that wouldn’t be fair. So then we have to ask, how much more “un-dumb” does he have to be to see the glaringly obvious situation that OTB commentators can easily see with one eye closed and 3 whiskeys deep? +2SD? +3SD?

    And even if we stipulate that Manchin is indeed dumb, we would also have to assume that many/most people on his team (or in his orbit) – all of whom are un-dumb/savvy enough to situate themselves in the political power structure – are also dumb. Seems like a stretch.

    I wonder if there’s a different explanation than “dumb”…..or perhaps several. And I further wonder if perhaps Manchin is considering things that we are only faintly aware of….or perhaps things that we aren’t aware of at all.

    Well, damn, that’s no fun. Dumb is fun.

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  26. CSK says:

    @DeD:
    I don’t know why he hasn’t already. WV is a very red state now.

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  27. JohnSF says:

    @MarkedMan:

    “If you give me these committees and such and such promises, I’ll become a Republican tomorrow and vote Mitch in.”

    “OK, we promise.”
    Mitch is voted in.
    “Promise? Ah well. Can’t bind the state party, and Cotton decided he wants that chair. Our bad.”

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  28. KM says:

    @JohnSF:
    Yep, relying on the infamously inconsistent and ever-shift Mitch’s word is a fool’s errand. The GOP has proven over and over they don’t believe in honor among thieves and frankly break any norm or promise to get what they want. Manchin would know that more than most having to actually spend time with these people that they have no intention of following through with the lies that come out of their mouths.

    @Mimai:
    Naivety is a form of “dumb” and he’s definitely acting naïve. Even the most intelligent among us fall prey to it as no one can know or understand everything; the difference is when someone points out your misperception, the “smart” person changes and the “dumb” one persists.

    Manchin and Sinema persist in repeating pointless platitudes in defiance of stark reality. They are either being “dumb”, lying to CYA for re-election and preserve their personal power or cynically manipulating Dems while actually being conservatives; in this case, the accusations of naivety and “dumbness” are the kindest interpretation of their actions.

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  29. Kingdaddy says:

    @Mimai: Intelligence is, to some degree, contextual. I’m much better at software systems design than I am at developing the most elegant coding solution. I’ve known people who are incredibly good at playing board games, and absolute crap at role-playing games. Some politicians are great at campaigning, and terrible at governing. It’s not all a question of relative skill or experience. It’s also the challenge all of us face when wrapping our brains around particular types of problem sets.

    But what makes someone unintelligent is when they cannot, or will not, learn from experience. When used the “S” word to describe Joe Manchin, I was describing his demonstrable inability or unwillingness to assess the political situation for what it is. To conflate the Senate with the country is stupid. To overlook the mutation of the Republican Party into its current monstrous form is stupid. To act as though a particular version of bipartisanship is possible is stupid. You can psychologize the hell out of the refusal to see how it has changed, but whatever the reason is, it’s not a sign of intelligence. Although I was not a fan of either Nixon or Reagan, both Cold Warriors had enough mental agility to see when detente was possible. Manchin is unable to see the opposite, when collaboration is impossible, and the quest for it is destructively quixotic.

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  30. Mimai says:

    @KM:
    @Kingdaddy:

    I appreciate the nuance that you both added. I don’t have time to give your comments the engagement they deserve, so please forgive me for my too-curt reply:

    We should all be careful about falling prey to the WYSIATI bias.

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  31. Barry says:

    @JohnSF: “Promise? Ah well. Can’t bind the state party, and Cotton decided he wants that chair. Our bad.”

    IMHO that’s actually not a problem for him; Manchin switches back.

    The question is after 2022 or 2024. If the GOP picks up three seats 2022 then Manchin’s value is zero – McConnell doesn’t need to override a filibuster.

    In 2024, and (as has been pointed out) he voted to impeach the Lord God Trump, so the GOP Base hates him, and he’d have to keep his seat somehow. Trusting the GOP not to stick a knife in him would be foolish indeed. And even if he did, the GOP would have several Dem Senators eager to cut deals.

    It might be that he figures that he’s at the peak of his power, for a very short period of time, and will milk it for all of the blood that it’s worth.

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  32. Stormy Dragon says:

    @KM:

    Counterpoint would be Jeff Van Drew, who switched parties and became a MAGA hero. Since they only care about owning the libs, if your switch owns the libs enough they won’t care if you were one yourself before that moment.

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  33. Raoul says:

    I have to say it was weird watching the Kennedy Center Honors last night and seeing Manchin singing “we shall overcome” in the second row when they were honoring Joan Baez.

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  34. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Mimai:

    But surely it takes a fair amount of “un-dumb” to ascend to the upper echelons of US political power.

    Who knows? Maybe it doesn’t and survivor bias is making us confuse lucky with smart.

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  35. Mimai says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Haha! Fair game. I concede that we are lacking a RCT.

    Still though, if we were placing bets, my own “un-dumb” reasoning would lead me to put my money/reputation on the un-dumb explanation.

    Of course, the point about contextual intelligence raised by @Kingdaddy: may very well apply to my reasoning here. I take a backseat to the political knowledge/interest of 99% of the OTB regulars.

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  36. dazedandconfused says:

    @Scott F.:

    “Because we have seven brave Republicans that continue to vote for what they know is right and the facts as they see them, not worrying about the political consequences.”

    “I’m just very hopeful and I see good signs,” Manchin said. “Give us some time.”

    That’s Manchin’s magical thinking right there. A little time and three more votes is all he needs to restore our democracy. He has fantasized a way to see this historically huge problem as a little problem, so he can keep to his position.

    What it suggests is he’s being played. Joe had been unaware he had so many silent admirers on the other side of the aisle, and it wouldn’t do to be rude to them now, now would it? They be making Joe feel like the only deb at a debutantes ball. Those seven suiters aren’t going to respect ya in the morning, Joe. Nope.

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  37. Michael Reynolds says:

    You don’t have to be smart, or even un-dumb, you just have to be slightly smarter, slightly less un-dumb than the people who’ll vote for you. He’s not the Senator from Massachusetts, he’s the Senator from West Virginia.

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  38. Mimai says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Wouldn’t the more appropriate comparison group be “the people who’ll run against you”? Though I suppose your point would still hold (which is not to endorse your point).

    As I noted in my earlier comment, all of this assumes that the people in Manchin’s orbit are similarly dumb. Surely not all of them are from WV too.

    Or perhaps it is that Manchin simply ignores all of them? That doesn’t quite fit the narrative or history. All of this leads me to put my chips on explanations that don’t rely on dumbness.

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  39. Unsympathetic says:

    I don’t care if Manchin is stupid or evil. What I do know [and see] is that zero Democratic politicians have been willing to go hold rallies in WV to demonstrate that he’s not supporting them – and that he actually can and should do the right thing. If he’s bought – then the complaints from the people he’s “supposed” to represent can/should change.. because the buying only works if nobody notices. If he’s stupid – then the complaints will outnumber the nonsense he’s listening to.

    But of course I expect Democrats to do nothing but whine about how nothing works even though the reason nothing works is because Democrats aren’t willing to fight as hard as the R’s… to make it work.

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  40. Andy says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    He wants to be reelected. This is not exactly rocket science lol

    I think that’s the most succinct and accurate analysis.

    Manchin is ultimately accountable to the people of West Virginia and not the Democratic party much less its progressive wing, and certainly not people whining and name-calling online (all of which probably helps him).

    Manchin is probably going to have his cake and eat it too. He’s killing legislation he could never vote for and deflecting blame to others among the demographics that matter to him. Yeah, he’s lying is ass off about his reasoning – what’s amazing is that this surprises people who should know better. It’s really politics 101.

    If we had the stronger parties of yesteryear where deals could be made things might be different. Instead, we have weak parties with no real authority over their supposed members, and no real ability to trade favors, yet people still expect party loyalty as if we were in a parliamentary system. What incentive does Manchin have to cave on this issue? None!

    Most other theories trying to explain his behavior ignore the basic fact that the most important priority for any politician is getting reelected. Manchin is not remotely unique in that regard. The only unique thing is his tenuous position as a nominal Democrat in a red state who must ride a narrow line with the general electorate. Most of his peers, ensconced in safe seats, only need to worry about being primaried. Yet Manchin is expected to be the one to torpedo his political career for the “greater good.” His refusal to do that is not a sign that he is stupid.

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  41. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    What it suggests is he’s being played.

    Or that he has no interest whatsoever in fixing problems in states where minorities are being disenfranchised and knows enough to realize that naive will play better than bigoted.

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  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Andy: When did wanting people to be able to vote become a goal exclusively of the progressives? And when did you become opposed to it?

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  43. Andy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    @Andy: When did wanting people to be able to vote become a goal exclusively of the progressives? And when did you become opposed to it?

    You are, once again, confusing analysis with advocacy.

    As to what you think I supposedly think, please point out anytime, anywhere that I’ve said or otherwise indicated opposition to wanting people to vote. If you can’t (and you can’t), then please put away your strawman. Thanks.

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  44. Kurtz says:

    @Andy:

    Yeah, he’s lying is ass off about his reasoning

    I think this is what’s at issue for some. I think there’s a general feeling that he (and Sinema) may not be lying about their reasoning.

    This is less a disagreement between you and I as a suspicion about something that’s being lost in translation.

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  45. Andy says:

    @Kurtz:

    I think this is what’s at issue for some. I think there’s a general feeling that he (and Sinema) may not be lying about their reasoning.

    I look at it from a cui bono perspective. Assuming Manchin’s primary goal is to get reelected (not a sure assumption, but a relatively safe one I think), what is the best course of action for him from his perspective?

    I don’t think it’s siding with progressives on this particular bill or the nuking filibuster, both of which are unpopular in WV.

    And I don’t think it’s directly opposing the bill on the merits because he is, after all, a Democrat and he doesn’t want to enable a successful primary challenge.

    It’s opposing the bill cloaked in the theater of promoting bipartisanship by saying that all you want is a bipartisan bill and then leaving the details and work to others – work he almost certainly knows will never happen in the current political environment.

    In short, he’s threading the needle (or trying to anyway) on an issue where taking a definitive stand on one side or the other is going to hurt his reelection chances. I think that’s a much more likely explanation for his behavior than the various attempts to divine some evil intent or assume stupidity.

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  46. Andy says:

    I’d also consider the way he did this – an op-ed not in the NYT or WAPO or another elite outlet, but in a WV newspaper followed by appearances on TV that will get lots of play in WV. He’s ensuring his constituents get the message. And all the progressive criticism only helps him at the end given WV’s demographics.

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  47. Jax says:

    @Andy: It’s that “cloaking his reasoning in a wish for bipartisanship” that really gets me. He’s not naive or dumb, he’s playing it exactly how he needs to to get re-elected, and he knows damn good and well there ain’t gonna be any “bipartisanship” on the side of Republicans. I also suspect he’s currently shopping for the big payday when he decides to flip at the most damaging moment for Biden and hands the Senate back to McConnell, well before the ’22 elections.

    Republicans are laughing, with no intention of doing bipartisan ANYTHING, and there’s not a damn thing Dems can do because he’s actually parroting what Biden wants….bipartisanship. Politicking at it’s most ugly.

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  48. Kurtz says:

    @Andy:

    Fair enough. I get that perspective. And I can’t really argue with it. I think I should add that it’s a choice between two cynical views. And worse, they may both be true.

    Take the following how you will:

    I think when some people here see phrases like “siding with progressives,” they question your perspective. I’m not blaming you for this. When I see them, I take you to mean from the perspective of voters.

    I also know you may be specifically talking about the filibuster. It may not be fair to you, but the reaction seems understandable if you look at it from the perspective that voting rights shouldn’t really be considered progressive.

    It would be one thing if nuking the filibuster was on the table to push Medicare for All or something that’s undeniably progressive. But in this case, it’s under discussion to ensure rights foundational to republican government.

    Anyway, thanks for the perspective. Good to hear from you.

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  49. Ken_L says:

    I fully understand Manchin’s electoral situation. The Democratic Party is lucky to have him, and Democrats should stop expecting the man who voted to confirm Gorsuch and Kavanaugh to support progressive bills.

    I do, however, resent him insulting our intelligence with comically specious arguments trying to justify his position.

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  50. David S. says:

    @Andy: For me, this is the most persuasive argument, because it helps explain why he’s going over the top on murdering the bill, rather than merely letting it die. He’s apparently calculated that WV needs to see the knife go in.

    Which also means we’re officially back to political circuses from the press. I guess I’m putting money down on a second-term Trump, then; what’s the point of anything anymore?

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  51. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Ken_L:

    I do, however, resent him insulting our intelligence with comically specious arguments trying to justify his position.

    I think that it helps to keep those arguments in perspective – i.e. they were and are aimed solely at one specific audience for domestic consumption. This is Joe Manchin speaking to the voters of WV in order to get himself reelected.

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  52. Andy says:

    @Kurtz:

    Thanks for your comments!

    I think when some people here see phrases like “siding with progressives,” they question your perspective. I’m not blaming you for this. When I see them, I take you to mean from the perspective of voters.

    I’m talking about progressives generally, who are the ones that are most supportive and pushing the hardest for this bill. My point is only that Manchin – a Democrat in a red state – can’t be seen siding with the progressive faction of the Democratic party on this issue. The harder the progressive faction promotes and pushes for this bill, the less likely it is that Manchin will choose to align with what they want him to do. I don’t see that argument as particularly controversial or insightful, to me it’s more like declaring that the sky is blue.

    I also know you may be specifically talking about the filibuster. It may not be fair to you, but the reaction seems understandable if you look at it from the perspective that voting rights shouldn’t really be considered progressive.

    I’m talking about the reasons why Manchin, in my view, opposes both this bill and ending the filibuster. And it was clear, to me at least, several months ago that this is what Manchin would do – he sent plenty of clear signals that this was a line he wouldn’t cross. Yet supporters of this bill persisted in believing that an all-or-nothing strategy was essential to success and that he could be cajoled or bullied into supporting it. I think it was pretty obvious from the beginning that strategy was flawed with a very low chance of success, and today the facts on the ground prove it.

    Secondly, there is a difference between supporting “voting rights” in a general sense and supporting this, or any, bill specifically. The most ardent supporters of this bill – by and large progressives – have attempted to argue that opposing this bill, or materially changing its provisions is tantamount to opposing “voting rights” and “democracy.” I think a more sober analysis shows that the future of democracy in America and voting rights generally does not rest on the passage of this particular bill.

    So I agree that “voting rights” shouldn’t be considered progressive. And I don’t consider expanding “voting rights” to be an exclusively progressive goal, although progressives prioritize it more than other ideological cohorts. But successful political action is a lot more than having noble goals and good intentions – process and the details matter a great deal.

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