Joe Manchin and the Art of Legislating

How the West Virginia Democrat came to vote for the stimulus bill.

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Manu Raju, Ted Barrett, Phil Mattingly and Lauren Fox’s CNN report “How Democrats miscalculated Manchin and later won him back” is pure narrative and rather defies excerpting. It revolves around a seemingly trivial last-minute compromise in the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill that caught the West Virginia Democrat by surprise and delayed its passage for some 12 hours.

Most Democrats reading it will surely come away with their priors reinforced: Manchin is a giant pain in the ass and has way too much sway over American politics. And maybe that’s true.

My takeaway, though, is that President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are professional politicians who like Manchin, have developed a good relationship with him over the years, and understand the position he’s in as a Red State Democrat who’s more fiscally conservative than the rest of the caucus. Rather than trying to strong-arm him, which would almost surely have backfired, they patiently negotiated for as long as necessary to get him back on board.

Further, while the particular issue that turned out to be the sticking point struck me as rather insignificant in the scope of a bill that massive, Manchin was also a good-faith actor. He’d made a promise to a moderate Republican colleague and kept it. But he was ultimately swayed by some modest concessions and being made to understand the legislative realities, namely that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wouldn’t be able to keep her coalition together without the provision in question. So, ultimately, he conceded.

This is how the process is supposed to work in theory. And seldom seems to in practice these days.

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. MarkedMan says:

    I posted the following in yesterday’s open forum:

    Sometime in the last week I read a pretty devastating profile of Manchin and his political “philosophy”. (Apologies, but I can’t find it at the moment) The author appeared to know him pretty well and claimed that Manchin just performed the political calculus on any bill, mentally parsing out the gradients of where particular voters would want him to vote, whether they would possibly vote for him any way, how much he would motivate opposition to work against him, or how much he would motivate allies to work for him. Having performed this intricate calculation, he would then cast his vote for whatever position benefitted him most politically at that precise moment. The author had a couple of cases of Manchin making a big deal of voting one way and then a few years later, voting the exact opposite. He was willing to screw long time allies, even important businesses in WV if it would net him even a short political gain, confident that he could pick them up again later. The bills he introduced and championed were poorly written and largely symbolic, accomplishing little. He even once introduced a bill in direct opposition to a bill he had earlier championed.

    So I don’t think Schumer gives one second of thought to Manchin’s “conservative philosophy.” I’m sure that when the WH and ol’ Chuck are working on him they are singing the song of how a particular vote can help him, and telling a horror story of the unrelenting true believers he will piss off with the wrong vote. If that article is accurate, you no more need to consider the conservative bona fides of a bill than you would with Rand Paul.

    This explains why the Biden administration had VP Harris calling directly into West Virginia television interviews to work around him. They realized that whatever offense Manchin took it wouldn’t change his vote one iota, whereas moving the public view on an issue would certainly get his attention

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  2. Very narrow margins in the House and Senate give more power to legislators on the fringes of their respective parties. I’ve been pointing that out since the results of the election were known.

    3
  3. Kari Q says:

    @MarkedMan:

    That’s devastating criticism? Sounds like a pragmatic politician to me, and a smart one. Give me a Senate full of politicians who look at things that way and we’d get a lot more done.

    8
  4. MarkedMan says:

    @Kari Q: My takeaway was that he’s a weathervane, yielding nothing of consequence for his constituents. Because he is only interested in signaling, the legislation he actually crafts is ineffective. And no one with power takes it seriously because, as outlined in the article, he will literally campaign against his own “successful” legislation a few years later if the wind shifts. Does that describe 70-80% of politicians? Sure. But my larger point is that talking about his “conservatism” is a waste of time and an ineffective way to approach him.

    9
  5. JohnMcC says:

    @David Schuler: Yep, and Sen Manchin just reminded everybody (including everyone who catches the news and lives in WV, including in particular those with money to spend) what an important person in Washington that Manchin fellow is. And how much they need him.

    Exactly what he does for WV people themselves? Well….

    3
  6. Kylopod says:

    and understand the position he’s in as a Red State Democrat who’s more fiscally conservative than the rest of the caucus

    Therein lies the problem. WV is not a fiscally conservative state, it’s a culturally conservative poor state where a more generous relief bill should be highly popular. The position he’s taking doesn’t have anything to do with the actual popularity of the issue among his constituents, but with his vague branding as a “centrist,” which almost invariably means positioning himself to the right of the rest of the Democratic caucus regardless of the issue.

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  7. drj says:

    I can imagaine it’s pretty grating to have someone like Manchin as the median vote in the Senate.

    But ultimately, it’s the Senate (and the overrepresentation of land and underrepresentation of people) that’s the problem, not Manchin.

    @MarkedMan:

    yielding nothing of consequence for his constituents.

    I have come increasingly to the conclusion that there is a large segment of voters who care more about feeling validated by hearing the “right” rhetoric rather than about actual policy outcomes.

    Perhaps because validation is immediate and policy outcomes aren’t.

    From that perspective, who is to say that Manchin doesn’t deliver?

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  8. EddieInCA says:

    @Kari Q:

    Couldn’t disagree more. In the Manchin world view, everything is done through the prism of self-preservation rather than the common good. Senators are supposed to be working for the public, not themselves. In your view, as long as they protect themselves, they’re doing the right thing. I don’t think that’s anywhere close to correct, nor what leads to good outcomes for the general public.

    A big donation from a specific industry will do more to help Joe Manchin keep his seat than doing the actual right thing for his constituency. It’s how an issue with 70%+ approval nationalwide for can go down in flames in the Senate.

    Could not disagree more.

    5
  9. Lounsbury says:

    @Kari Q: For ide0logical people apparently it’s “devastating” but then such people are the very picture of the reason of the Left’s strong tendency to cutting off their noses to spite their faces – or I believe the phrase is Purity Pony brigade.

    As the said Senator just brought them and Biden an enormous victory in record time, it’s quite the sight to see them snapping back to their pre-Trump habits so quickly, if not surprising. What’s the greater enemy among the Left, why the Splitters who don’t adhere fully to a party line, Manchin is to be attacked for not be a Squaddie rather than celebrated for ensuring something a McConnel led Senate would have never passed…

    2
  10. EddieInCA says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Oh horsecrap!! Manchineel just watered down a bill that would have directly benefited his own constituents. The other senator of his starter had no idea why he did what he did. His state governor was/is against what Manchin did. To claim that he gave the Dems a victory is the sort of gaslighting we saw from Trump for four years. Manchin kept the Dems from an even bigger victory.

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  11. Sleeping Dog says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Senators are supposed to be working for the public, not themselves.

    While I agree with that, if working for the public resulted in an R being in Manchin’s seat the Covid bill would never have passed. With regard to WV, Trump won the state by ~40% and the current governor is a former Dem who changed parties after Trump’s 2016 victory.

    1
  12. EddieInCA says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Manchin watered down a bill that would have helped his own state more than most. His own governor and the GOP Senator from the same state, called him out for his actions.

    2
  13. Sleeping Dog says:

    @EddieInCA:

    … that would have directly benefited his own constituents.

    Eddie, you see it logically, but WV voters don’t. They have joined the R tribe and they view Dem proposals suspiciously, if not hostilely, Manchin is seeking cover.

  14. Sleeping Dog says:

    @EddieInCA:

    …GOP Senator from the same state, called him out for his actions.

    Why didn’t she vote for the bill?

    3
  15. Stormy Dragon says:

    He’d made a promise to a moderate Republican colleague and kept it.

    That “moderate” Republican proceeded to vote against the bill anyways, so what was the point of making and keeping the promise?

    3
  16. Sleeping Dog says:
  17. Stormy Dragon says:

    Manchin is not going to win as a D in WV in 2024. There are only three ways this plays out: 1) he retires at the end of the term, 2) he loses the seat, or 3) he switches to R in order to save his seat (possibly by making himself a hero by giving them control of the Senate in the process).

    Whichever of the three it is, there seems to be no reason for the DNC to waste political capital making life easier for Manchin.

    1
  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Manchin is not going to win as a D in WV in 2024. There are only three ways this plays out: 1) he retires at the end of the term, 2) he loses the seat, or 3) he switches to R in order to save his seat (possibly by making himself a hero by giving them control of the Senate in the process).

    Whichever of the three it is, there seems to be no reason for the DNC to waste political capital making life easier for Manchin.

    It’s silly to predict Manchin 2024 at this point. He won re-election (barely) smack in the middle of the Trump era. I don’t think we know what the landscape in WV will look like in 3 years.

    The fact that Manchin could switch – right now, today – suggests to me that rather than exiling him we should be very nice to the senator.

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  19. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    He barely won in the middle of the biggest blue wave since the 1970s, and even then only because an unusually strong libertarian candidate split the red vote. And I don’t know how WV is going to look like in 3 years, but it’s unlikely they’re going to shift to a purple state.

  20. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    And it no longer being the middle of the Trump era actually hurts Manchin, because a lot of Republicans who voted Democratic in 2024 because the president was insane are going to go home now that Trump is gone.

    1
  21. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    My prediction: if Breyer retires at the end of the current SCOTUS term, Manchin will wait until the replacement is announced and then use that to justify switching, blaming the Justice’s “extreme” viewpoints as driving him to do so. Abortion might be the specific viewpoint, since Manchin is pro-life.

    He gets a GOP trifecta: 1) stops a Democratic supreme court judge, 2) gives the GOP control of the Senate, 3) becomes a pro-life hero, three things GOP primary voters REALLY care about.

    2
  22. Scott F. says:

    This is how the process is supposed to work in theory. And seldom seems to in practice these days.

    One party believes in the theory that the government can be part of the solution, while the other party has come to think the government can only diminish “freedom.” In the face of massive societal and economic disruption stemming from a national health crisis, one party worked to take substantive action to address the crisis, while the other used their opportunities to amend the legislation to virtue signal, then joined in lock-step opposition.

    The process worked this time when it seldom has, because the majority party in power has seldom held power recently. It’s just one more data point in support of OTB’s promotion of the downside to minority rule.

    1
  23. Kylopod says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    and even then only because an unusually strong libertarian candidate split the red vote

    Is this the case? Here are the results.

    Manchin: 49.57%
    Republican: 46.26%
    Libertarian: 4.17%

    It’s true that if you took every single vote from the Libertarian candidate and gave it to the Republican, the Republican would win (a razor-thin 50.43%). Indeed, the Republican would only need about 80% of the Libertarian’s voters to win, assuming none of them would go to Manchin.

    However, it’s unlikely this is the case. The Libertarian vote never splits that predictably; there’s typically a large percentage who otherwise wouldn’t have voted at all, as well as a chunk who list the Democrat as their second choice.

  24. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Whichever of the three it is, there seems to be no reason for the DNC to waste political capital making life easier for Manchin.

    Um… maybe they want to get shit done in the meantime? Like pass this bill at all?

    Manchin is far to the left of the Republican center, much further than he is from the Democratic center. He also seems to think the government can do things. He’s not going to become a Republican.

    He might become an independent, if he decides it will help him. But given that he basically is the Democratic Party in West Virginia, there’s almost no difference there.

    1
  25. Gustopher says:

    @drj:

    I have come increasingly to the conclusion that there is a large segment of voters who care more about feeling validated by hearing the “right” rhetoric rather than about actual policy outcomes.

    I think that’s largely a function of the filibuster. If the Senate can deliver no policy, which means congress as a whole can deliver no policy, why not vote for the guy who says the goofy shit?

  26. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    He might become an independent, if he decides it will help him.

    One point of clarification: what matters isn’t partisan self-labeling, but which party he caucuses with in the Senate. When Jeffords switched in 2001, suddenly giving the Dems control, he didn’t actually become a Democrat–he became an indie and began caucusing with the Dems. Indeed, over the years I’ve often heard commentators state that Jeffords “became a Democrat,” which isn’t technically correct but is a reasonable shorthand for what happened because it had the same effect.

  27. Lounsbury says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Your strange motivated analysis based on ideological and partisan desires deviates from the data. In your 2020 election, down ticket from Mr Biden the Democratic candidates did significantly worse than Biden, with his centrist positioning.

    Of course as I recall the Left commentariat here airly waived away, being all on their high-horses of motivated reasoning, the negative impact of riots etc. and waived away the negative impact of idiotic slogans like Defund the Police. But the data so far rather show they were thoroughly wrong as to impact in the key “purple” districts etc.

    Were it not for the fact that the Republicans have become an anti-democratic party, I should be quite encouraged to see the Left snapping back to its usual purity pony in-fighting and Arguing to Pre-Lose a key Senate Seat… Unique strategic thinking that…

    Now of course as by my understanding Manchin is up again in a Presidential Election Year, and if Mr Biden is riding with a solid centrist support, and looking good to retain the middle-centre-right voter against a probable Trumpist Republican party, then it is rather logical that a Manchin positioned Senator for West Virginia has quite the fighting chance.

    After all, the Left can’t forget where its real enemies are, the Splitters of course, the Right Deviationists, etc

    @Michael Reynolds: Of course by any proper cold blooded logic you are right, supporting Manchin and other Senators in non-safe seats would be the solid logic, but the Commentariat are from the Lefty culture where it is rather more important to have the true-and-correct positions and the real enemies are the Right Deviationists. A long tradition, normally one I find endearing for its multiple paths to failure, except in the current historical circumstances, dangerous.

    @Stormy Dragon: you evidently have little experience in repeated game negotiations.

    3
  28. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan:

    My takeaway was that he’s a weathervane, yielding nothing of consequence for his constituents. Because he is only interested in signaling, the legislation he actually crafts is ineffective.

    Manchin could be the most powerful man in Washington, if he had that ambition. Instead, his only ambition seems to be diddling around the edges and getting re-elected so he can continue diddling around the edges.

    If he had a pet cause, it could be done. If he had a lot of pet causes, he could move a lot. He could deliver pork to West Virginia — either metaphorical pork or actual pigs if the mood struck him.

    But he appears to be pretty content to coast, let others do the majority of the work — and then criticize from the sidelines.

    He’s got a pretty sweet gig going if that’s his goal.

    3
  29. Kylopod says:

    @Lounsbury:

    In your 2020 election, down ticket from Mr Biden the Democratic candidates did significantly worse than Biden, with his centrist positioning.

    That final clause isn’t what the data actually shows. It only supports that interpretation if there were a lot of crossover votes where people pulled the lever for Biden and simultaneously for a Republican candidate downballot. However, the relatively disappointing performance of Dems downballot can be explained in two other ways, both of which are mentioned in the article you link to:

    (1) The distribution of votes in the House. Note that only about a half-dozen districts, out of the 435, voted for both Biden and a Republican Congressional candidate; split-party districts are still at a historical low.

    (2) The biggest reason for Republican Congressional candidates getting more votes than Trump wasn’t crossover votes for Biden and for the R candidate, but rather people voting for Biden and then not bothering to cast any votes downballot. Apparently a lot of people went to the polls just interested in getting rid of Trump.

    3
  30. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Your strange motivated analysis based on ideological and partisan desires deviates from the data.

    You mean like pointing out that moderate down ballot Democrats did significantly worse than Biden because his moderate campaign didn’t have coat tails, followed immediately by speculating that in the next race, Biden’s moderate campaign will surely help all the moderate Democrats also running?

    As for the defund the police, I’ll point to Radley Balko’s (you know, one of those super lefty former CATO Institute/Reason Magazine policy analysts) pointing out that for all the hand wringing about the phrase “Defund the Police”, they’ve accomplished more for criminal justice reform in the last year than moderates have in the last 30. So if our goal is to actually get things done rather than just having Democrats in office for the sake of having Democrats in office, maybe we should pay attention.

    I think the problem with moderates is that too many confuse tactics (what needs to be done right now to get this bill passed?) with strategy (what should the long term goal be?). With UI expiring in a week, some purely transactional sacrifices need to be made to get the bill passed, and I’m fine with that. But making life easy for Manchin the next two years should not be a goal, because if we get to 2022 with nothing to show, it won’t matter if Manchin didn’t switch.

    3
  31. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    It kinda gets to MLK’s point that moderates will always want you to slow things down and wait for some vaguely future “better situation”, but if you go along with that, the better situation never actually arrives. Change only happens when you make moderates uncomfortable and make it clear that change is the only thing that will end the discomfort.

    1
  32. Gustopher says:

    @Lounsbury:

    In your 2020 election, down ticket from Mr Biden the Democratic candidates did significantly worse than Biden, with his centrist positioning.

    Another way of looking at that is that Trump did worse than the Republicans, and dragged his party down in what would have been a Republican year across the board otherwise.

    It depends on where you want to assign the agency.

    Joe Biden ran as generic Democrat, a bridge between the progressive and moderate wings of the party (he’s no Hickenlooper, Bennet, etc), and a steady hand.

    Donald Trump, on the other hand is a 900lb gorilla (orangutan?) who is larger than life, etc. And hated. You love him or you hate him, there is no middle ground, and more people hate him than love him.

    Joe Biden didn’t win as much as Donald Trump lost.

    Which makes the Democratic position more precarious, not less.

    Now of course as by my understanding Manchin is up again in a Presidential Election Year, and if Mr Biden is riding with a solid centrist support,

    Joe Biden is not a centrist — he is way to the left of Obama, and I’m digging it. On social issues of women’s rights, LGBTetc rights, minority rights, he’s there. Militarily, he is choosing the smallest potentially-effective responses without being afraid of looking weak. The covid relief bill expands the child tax credits and will cut childhood poverty in half.

    He has a centrist reputation from a career of not doing so much, but in the closing chapter of his life, he’s turning out better than expected. I wish him a long life.

    2
  33. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Gustopher:

    Joe Biden is not a centrist — he is way to the left of Obama, and I’m digging it.

    I’d argue Biden is actually center right by any meaningfully universal definition of the term. It’s just that the US being limited to a center-right party and a far right party results in the center-right party frequently being portrayed as leftist by lazy journalists.

    3
  34. Modulo Myself says:

    American centrism has become completely incoherent. The stimulus had overwhelming bipartisan support. In WV, raising the minimum wage to 15/hr was polling over 60%. The idea that in ‘real’ America (as opposed to the cities/educated enclaves) people are against this is crazy. The only people who believe that Manchin represents some sort of center position are the inane ‘moderates’ who everyone in America hates. I fundamentally guarantee you that if you dropped a white progressive into hardcore red WV and a WSJ-type bootlicker worried about giving money away, the WSJ-type bootlicker is going to be scorned and the progressive will be in the bar having beers.

    Honestly, this is the first time in my life that the Democrats have grasped how much pull they have on economics. Manchin sounds pretty deluded, but he has set himself up as the rightward pole in the Senate. They’ve made bipartisanship an act of Bernie and Joe coming together. They might as well tell the GOP not to bother to show up–go home and read Dr Seuss.

    2
  35. Lounsbury says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Ah run a Left campaign for coat tails… Right you can believe that all you want, charming the Leftist delusions normally. The data contradict, but of course nothing should get in the way of received wisdom.

    2
  36. Gustopher says:

    https://www.politico.com/news/2021/03/07/joe-manchin-filibuster-senate-474197

    Sen. Joe Manchin said Sunday he is open to altering the Senate filibuster to make it more “painful” for the minority party to wield, while reiterating his opposition to ending the procedural hurdle altogether.

    “The filibuster should be painful, it really should be painful and we’ve made it more comfortable over the years,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Maybe it has to be more painful.”

    Looks like Manchin is either toying with people, or open to filibuster reform (but not elimination). Such as talking filibusters or putting the burden on the minority party to keep people on the floor.

    3
  37. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    Such as talking filibusters or putting the burden on the minority party to keep people on the floor.

    I’m glad those are the first ideas mentioned. There are actually a whole score of possibilities for limiting the filibuster; I’ve read several articles outlining them over the past few weeks. But the one that gets brought up the most often is lowering the threshold for cloture by a few Senate seats; say, 55 or 57. This would have essentially no effect on the current Congress, it would just make it a bit easier for either party to acquire a filibuster-proof majority through a good election in the future.

    I’ve thought for years that bringing back the talking filibuster would be an improvement. Imagine 2009 if Republicans intent on blocking the stimulus bill were forced to stand on the Senate floor and read out of the phone book for days on end. At the very least, it would call attention to the obstructionist nature of what they were doing. With the filibuster becoming preemptive (based on rule changes instituted in the 1970s, for the record), it led the media to act like 60 was simply the normal threshold for passing bills and that this was baked in from the start. It validated the attempts to use the filibuster for everything, rather than occasionally as in the past.

    4
  38. Kari Q says:

    @EddieInCA:

    I don’t admire Manchin, but you can work with someone like that. Give him a little something and you can get his vote on important bills. That’s better than rejecting or embracing bills blindly. It won’t give you perfect legislation, but you can get things passed.

    Of course in an ideal world, his primary concern is what’s best for his constituents, but that’s not the world we live in. If doing the right thing by your voters was the best way to be reelected, the Medicaid expansion would have been adopted in every state. Manchin knows his voters, knows what they want, knows how to make himself look good to them. And we need him to get legislation passed. Yeah, give me a lot more people like that.

    2
  39. Scott F. says:

    @Gustopher:

    Joe Biden is not a centrist — he is way to the left of Obama, and I’m digging it.

    Joe places himself at the center of the Democratic coalition. He always has. The Democratic Party as a whole is more progressive than it was when Obama was in office, so Biden’s centered position is further left as well.

    3
  40. de stijl says:

    I would rather an unreliable vote from Manchin than a reliable “no” from an a R Senator.

    If not him, it would be 49 / 51.

    I actually like his suggestion on filibuster. Make it old-school real. People speachifying throughout.

    Procedural filibuster has got to go. Make it sharply rare and painful.

    Require a seated quorum to continue.

    Pain-free procedural filibuster has got to go. The McConnell doctrine is fucking stupid for an adaptive democracy.

    4
  41. Lounsbury says:

    @Kari Q:

    Of course in an ideal world, his primary concern is what’s best for his constituents, but that’s not the world we live in. If doing the right thing by your voters was the best way to be reelected, the Medicaid expansion would have been adopted in every state. Manchin knows his voters, knows what they want, knows how to make himself look good to them. And we need him to get legislation passed. Yeah, give me a lot more people like that.

    Ideal world, in essence intellectualized abstraction over how essentially over-clocked social primates/chimpanzees (with exaggerated self-delusions of rationality and consistency, both at the personal and at the group levels) work in actual practice.

    Manchin demonstrates he knows how to operate in his environment. As others and yourself note it is rather better to have a Manchin than the certain alternative, a reactionary Trumpist as Senator from WV which would have resulted in 100% of Nothing. A perfect zero, nice and pure in its achievement, no sullying of objectives or goals. Adored as the goal of the ideological.

    The observations re the painful filibuster seem rather wise – for the performance, impose real cost of Time and Effort (and having to give the corner pub or hobnobbing or very importantly, donor-fund-raising a miss) and one should likely see that “appropriately priced Transaction Cost” [the key being of course appropriately priced in time and effort pain] will rationalize usage.

    And in framing yourselves as returning the filibuster to original usage / intent, etc. you undermine the “radical Left blowing up democracy” counter-attack. A politically more savvy approach for positioning for general electorate outside of the Left political activist twitterati.

    1
  42. james hunt says:

    I am from West Virginia and was a Democrat for 42 years and have been a Conservative Independent for 12 years when the left went anti God, anti Family, anti coal, gas, racist with the most racist president we ever had Obama!! This guy is a fence rider in speech but full blooded socialist when he votes. His Uncle was Secretary of State years ago and lost $82,000,000 and his excuse was “I do not know where it went” Rockefeller was Governor! That was it! Manchin has always been a two faced liar, racist (just THIS year he said he was walking in the foot steps of the greatest Senator Wv. ever had ,Bob BYRD who was a hierarchy KKK member)thief! Ask a majority of West Virginias they will tell you the same! Now some one will ask how does he get elected year after year and the answer is cheating the same way Biden won last year!!!

  43. de stijl says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Incremental positive change is better than no change.

    I like home runs. I like 50 yard TD passes.

    A couple of singles in a row accomplish the same thing. A 7 yard run that moves the chains on a third and five is also a positive thing.

    The big win requires a supermajority now with partisan sorting. Incremental wins can happen now.

    Besides, I am civically opposed to one party getting to do whatever they want to cost-free. We see that too often with trifecta R state governments and the results are terrible.

    Vote whipping is hard.

    I like the flashy Randy Moss style TD catch and runs, but I have no issue with a series of grind ’em out first-and-tens.

    (One problem is that Rs respond to a figurative four yard gain as if it were Hail Mary and go all chicken little.)

    (Another, is I mix metaphors like a mother.)

    1
  44. Michael Reynolds says:

    @james hunt:
    Sanity test: Who won the 2020 presidential election by 7 million votes?

  45. Stormy Dragon says:

    @de stijl:

    Incremental wins can happen now.

    Manchin has apparently decided to unilaterally eliminate reconciliation:

    Joe Manchin pledges to block Biden’s infrastructure bill if Republicans aren’t included

    So nothing is going to get done now because Manchin thinks the GOP deserves a veto on everything.

  46. de stijl says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    If he retires or dies, Manchin’s replacement is a guaranteed R.

    Is that better or worse?

    Don’t get me wrong. Manchin pisses me off to no end. I wish he were more on-board, but I know it is a foolish wish, and if it came to be he would lose his next election to an R.

    Its West Virginia.

    I will take Manchin over any R replacement even if he routinely pisses me off.

  47. Stormy Dragon says:

    @de stijl:

    Again, if people were going “Manchin is a Republican who just pretends to be a D because it lets him avoid the Republican primary, and we should only deal with him to the extent we need to get things passed”, I’d buy it.

    The problem is we get people insisting he’s the super loyal and only keeps betraying the rest of his party because he’s being forced to and that if Democrats ever want to succeed, they need to be emulating him.