Senator Joe Manchin Is A Stupid Ape

We're all apes. And some are willfully stupid about their public duties.

I’m a fervent believer in building political bridges whenever possible because of the value of sincerely-made counterarguments, raising facts or interpretations not considered. I believe in respecting public officials in a variety of ways, such as calling them by their proper titles. In practice, these principles are not absolute, however. Sometimes, people are not genuinely interested in having an open, honest debate. Some public officials become so remiss in performing their duties that they do not deserve all the respect that they once received. In fact, they may need to experience some disrespect to see exactly how remiss they have been in discharging their responsibilities to the electorate. That is why I am calling Senator Joe Manchin a stupid ape.

It is uncontroversial that he is an ape. All homo sapiens are apes, so it is no insult to Senator Manchin to call him an ape. The phrase “stupid ape” has greater resonance than merely identifying someone as a stupid person, which is why I am applying that combination of two words to the Senator from West Virginia.

Which, of course, leads us to the question of what makes Senator Manchin a stupid ape, primate, hominid, or whatever other taxonomic term you wish to apply to him. The answer is simple: there is no good interpretation of why he is continuing to block important reforms to our political system, at a time when democracy is under threat from a political faction dedicated to minority rule and other anti-democratic outcomes. Perhaps future historians will discover a kinder interpretation of his actions, based on currently unavailable documents or testimony. Some scholars of WWII now believe that Neville Chamberlain wasn’t a gullible fool, as he was depicted at the time, but a Prime Minister desperate to buy the time needed to re-arm Great Britain before it had to face the Nazi war machine. Who knows, maybe there will be a revisionist history of our current time that will uncover reasons for a similarly more forgiving view of Senator Manchin. For now, we have to go with the evidence we have, which points straight to the conclusion that Senator Manchin is a stupid ape.

If I were speaking to Senator Manchin in person at this moment, he might rage-quit this conversation. Or, to give him the benefit of the doubt, he might coolly conclude that it is not worth having further discussion with someone who calls him a stupid ape. Perhaps you, the reader, believes that Senator Manchin deserves better treatment, based on his years of service, and the respect due to his office. However, I would ask Senator Manchin, or any offended reader, which is worse: being the target of a verbal barb, or having your state government deny you the inalienable right to vote? Which is worse, puncturing some of the politeness that surrounds people who are seated in The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body ™, or refusing to oppose to people who are actively dismantling the American democratic experiment? Which is worse, abandoning political processes, such as the filibuster, that are clearly not working by any definition of the word “working” (including achieving the bipartisanship that Senator Manchin says that he prizes dearly), or abandoning the whole ethos of politics, which according to Max Weber was the art of getting things done, not glad-handing your fellow politicians.

If the plight of the disenfranchised or nods to dead German sociologists isn’t enough to move Senator Manchin, perhaps we may appeal to the Senator’s sense of self. Senator, you look ridiculous. The Republican “colleagues” whom you hope will join you in old-fashioned bipartisan compromise are too afraid of the Baron Harkonnen of Mar-A-Lago, too invested in the current anti-democratic creed that has become the dominant force in Republican politics, or just laughing at your foolishness. They already think you are a stupid ape. If you believe their words over, say, their eagerness to put the January 6 in the memory hole, or make common cause with the governors and state legislators who want to make fair political contests impossible, then you are one of the worst sorts of politicians, a hopelessly naive rube enslaved to a simplistic idea that cannot work in politics as it exists, as opposed to politics as you wish it existed.

Senator Manchin’s op-eds have the whiff of desperation to “prove” that the light is at the end of the tunnel, that success is right around the corner, that Tinkerbell will live if you only wish it hard enough. Tortured arguments about how electoral reforms should only happen if the newly-empowered voters are just as likely to vote for the people who wanted to deny them representation as those who wanted to grant it are hilarious, not serious, and unhistorical, not in line with obvious precedents like, oh, say, the Fourteenth Amendment or the Civil Rights Act. And insisting that there are enough well-meaning Republicans to forge a compromise on meaningful electoral form is just embarrassing at an Emperor’s New Clothes level.

Or perhaps this is all theater, some way of Manchin to exit the Democratic Party, having shown that he tried to be reasonable, but gosh darn it, those liberals and progressives wouldn’t give him the deference due to a Blue Dog. If so, that would be script writing at a level of Ed Wood-level stupidity, peopled with cardboard characters and unconvincing motivations.

We have enough stupidity in American politics. Fortunately, other elected representatives, such as Louis Gohmert, the avatar of stupidity in public service, are not pivotal votes on critical issues, such as voting rights. Senator Manchin is another matter. His steadfast denial of reality is directly preventing some important fixes to our badly out of kilter political system. His defenses are hollow and laughable, based on the notion that some imaginary, unattainable fellowship among 100 Senators is more important than the needs of millions of Americans. If the worst thing that ever happened to Senator Manchin was that someone called him a stupid ape, he will have escaped his historical dereliction of public duty very, very easily.

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Kingdaddy
About Kingdaddy
Kingdaddy is returning to political blogging after a long hiatus. For several years, he wrote about national security affairs at his blog, Arms and Influence, under the same pseudonym. He currently lives in Colorado, where he is still awestruck at all the natural beauty here. He has a Ph.D in political science that is oddly useful in his day job.

Comments

  1. Scott F. says:

    What I wouldn’t give, Kingdaddy, to provide you the opportunity to speak directly to Senator Manchin in this moment, so you could give him the disrespect he deserves.

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  2. Well said.

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  3. Stormy Dragon says:

    I remain convinced that Manchin is going to flip GOP as close as possible to, but before the 2022 election, as giving the Senate back to the GOP and becoming a MAGA hero is his only path to reelection in 2024.

    My guess is he hoping there’s a SCOTUS opening and that will be his best moment to put the knife in to win maximum Trump points for the betrayal.

    I don’t see there’s anyway he wins as a Democrat in 2024, and he has to know this, yet he’s not acting like someone who knows their political career will be over in three years and future involvement will depend on his personal popularity within the party. Indeed, he seems to be going out of his way to make himself an instant persona non-grata when he loses in 2024.

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  4. Gustopher says:

    Otto: Apes don’t read philosophy.

    Wanda : Yes they do, Otto. They just don’t understand it. Now let me correct you on a couple of things, OK? Aristotle was not Belgian. The central message of Buddhism is not “Every man for himself.” And the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up.

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  5. gVOR08 says:

    Stephen Breyer, who is under no threat at all to his career, expresses similar views that what should be trumps what clearly is. So apparently it’s possible to honestly feel that bipartisanship is a goal worthy of sacrificing more immediate concerns.

    However, all politicians lie, and Manchin’s lying about this. We see the FTPA as saving democracy. A number of Manchin’s constituents see it somewhat differently. He would be justified in feeling that killing the filibuster to save a “partisan” bill would be political suicide. I expect he’d like to save democracy, but not at the cost of his own career. He can easily rationalize that holding his seat for the Ds in ‘24, by which time he’ll be 77, is worth the compromise.

    I hope he, and/or Biden and Schumer, have an endgame in mind that doesn’t involve either caving to the Rs or Manchin switching parties.

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  6. Stormy Dragon says:

    @gVOR08:

    In 2018, the biggest blue wave in 40 years, Manchin just barely won his Senate race, and even then only because an unusually strong Libertarian candidate split the right wing vote. West Virginia has only gotten further Republican since then.

    I’m not sure how anyone thinks he has a chance in 2024, absent a situation so advantageous to the Democrats that it doesn’t actually matter if he wins.

    There are precisely three possibilities:
    1.) Manchin is delusional and thinks he can win in 2024 as a Democrat
    2.) Manchin knows he can’t win in 2024 as a Democrat and realizes he is in the last three years of his political career
    3.) Manchin’s current plan involves him running as a Republican in 2024

    His current behavior doesn’t seem at all compatible with #2, so is it #1 or #3? Maybe it’s #1, but Manchin didn’t get where he is by being politically clueless, so #3 seems the only viable explanation for his current behavior.

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  7. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    I think you’re giving Manchin way too much credit. He’s holding office to prevent someone else from WV from holding it, plain and simple. He doesn’t give a flying fuk about bipartisanship, elections–except as they relate to him staying in the Senate, the conditions under which any voter not named Joe Manchin casts his or her ballot, or whether such a voter can cast a ballot at all. Calling him a stupid ape is a disservice to all apes everywhere. The voters of WV deserve what he is for voting him into office. The fact that the nation doesn’t is what… well I won’t go on because my comment would be pulled.

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  8. Raoul says:

    I like the take from momoremisternice blog. Manchin is running for re-election in 2024. Through this prism, his opinions, as misguided as they are, make sense. So he lies or self-lies to justify his views, a characteristic for these species of primate. The sad truth is that he doesn’t even have a chance in his next cycle. He barely squeaked by last time with a series of fortuitous events including a good cycle for Dems, a bad candidate and legitimate third-party vote getter, yet he won by 3%.

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  9. Barry says:

    @gVOR08: “He can easily rationalize that holding his seat for the Ds in ‘24, by which time he’ll be 77, is worth the compromise. ”

    Why would the GOP let him win?
    The whole strategy they are actively carrying out as we speak is a layered system, where Dem voters are ‘filtered’ through voter suppression, then filtered again through gerrymandering, and filtered yet again by officials who will throw out ballots.

    And if that doesn’t work, the GOP state governments can throw out entire counties and districts of votes.

    And if that doesn’t work, the GOP state governments can just declare elections null and void (which will be done surgically – note that the current ‘fraudet’ system is not aimed at GOP victors).

    And if that all doesn’t work, then the House will declare the GOP candidate as the President. Now, if they’ve done all that, it would be odd indeed to leave DemonokRAT Reps and Senators free to claim office on the unconstitutional grounds of winning more votes.

    I agree with Stormy Dragon here, because otherwise Manchin either doesn’t care about being re-elected or he assumes that an unprecedented nuclear sh*tstorm will leave him untouched.

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  10. Kurtz says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    West Virginia defies analysis that applies to similar states.

    Manchin won by around 3% and a few tenths of a point shy of 50% of the vote. That isn’t squeaking by in today’s climate. And it wasn’t exactly a huge mismatch in terms of candidate quality either–his opponent is the AG.

    What is your basis for arguing that Hollen was an “unusually strong” LP candidate?

    I’m willing to be proven wrong here. It just seems like you’re shaping analysis to justify your conclusion.

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  11. gVOR08 says:

    @Kurtz: Hollen got 4.17% of the vote. I’d say that’s huge for a libertarian. As you note, elections run close these days. 4% is potentially enough to be a spoiler, although there’d be the usual argument about who the Libertarian’s takes votes from.

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  12. Kingdaddy says:

    @Stormy Dragon: @Just nutha ignint cracker: As I said, there are no unflattering interpretations.

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  13. Kurtz says:

    @gVOR08:

    But that’s exactly my point. He’s an outlier in an arguably outlier state.

    For example, Capito voted against a commission. But she was also among that first group of Republicans who acknowledged that Joe Biden would be the next President. She took shit for it, which partially accounts for her vote against a commission. She also won in 2016 even though she was considered less conservative than her primary opponents.

    How much does the result say about Hollen specifically? Or to put it in terms of other questions:

    How much of that is LP strategic thinking in terms of funding?

    How much of that is more reflective of West Virginia in particular vs. other states with similar attributes?

    On that latter question, the Democratic vs. Republican environment macro-analysis is predicated on broad characteristics of states and electoral history. But West Virginia has kind of resisted that sort of analysis.

    It’s possible that they are just the last hold out from the realignment that saw the Solid South become solidly ruby. But that’s why I’m asking these questions. To me, it seems equally possible that it’s more like New Hampshire–resistant to analysis that works in most of country.

    The numbers

    Total votes in 2018:

    586,034

    50% of the vote:

    293,017

    Manchin won 290,510
    Hollen win 24,411

    Manchin getting ~10.3% of Hollen’s votes is 50% of the vote. It seems more than reasonable to think that Manchin would pick up more than 10% of those votes.

    The usual caveats: Manchin drew 11% less vote share, with the Republican gaining 9.7%. So the trend is against him.

    Also, midterm electorates are a bit different from years with Presidential races.

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  14. Kylopod says:

    @Kurtz:

    Manchin won by around 3% and a few tenths of a point shy of 50% of the vote. That isn’t squeaking by in today’s climate.

    Manchin’s previous victory, in 2012, was by a 25-point margin, and it coincided with Romney winning the state by roughly the same margin. Given that backdrop, it’s clear Manchin lost an enormous amount of support between those elections. Put simply, it seems unlikely that he could win in a presidential year today; I don’t think he would have won running in 2016 or 2020. There just aren’t many crossover voters anymore.

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  15. Beth says:

    The question I keep coming back to is why do we (Democrats/the “Left”) continue to his his and Sinema’s asses?

    I understand that they vote with the party most of the time. I get that losing them would turn control of the Senate to Yertle McVoldemort, but so what? If we start from the assumption that our whole democracy is in peril, what good does it do to maybe stave off what is likely inevitable for another year and a half. Ok, so maybe we get a couple more judges on the bench than we would have if Yertle was in control. Stevens has his head up his own ass and is going to die/retire at the most inopportune time. Even that doesn’t really matter since they already have a solidly fascist majority anyway.

    So, really, what’s the benefit of playing footsie with these morons. They aren’t even skilled enough to use their own intransigence to their actual material benefit. Well, I’m partial to the idea that Manchin is auditioning for a slot in the Republican Party. What’s Sinema going to get? The Republicans aren’t going to do anything with a kooky bisexual other than feed her to the meat grinder.

    This is all like hoping that Mitt Romney won’t be vacuous or Collins won’t be so mendacious.

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  16. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Beth:

    As long as they continue to be able to approve judges, there’s value to controlling the senate.

    But the one thing I do wonder if why Schumer isn’t forcing more votes even if he knows they’re going to lose. Make the GOP explicitly come out against all sorts of popular things. Particularly so the ones in purple states can’t run on their moderation in 2022.

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  17. Moosebreath says:

    @Beth:

    “The question I keep coming back to is why do we (Democrats/the “Left”) continue to his his and Sinema’s asses?”

    Let’s assume Breyer retires at the end of June, when the Supreme Court’s term ends. Do you want McConnell in charge of the Senate, pulling another “rule” from his nether regions to steal another Supreme Court seat?

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  18. Kurtz says:

    @Kylopod:

    I admit that in my post. See: caveats. I think, regardless of the outcome, the analysis presented is flawed in several ways. But don’t mistake that for me saying Manchin isn’t vulnerable to changing politics in West Virginia.

    Correctly calling an outcome =/= correct analysis.

    I’m taking issue with two things: that national environment analysis is predictive equally across states and the assumption that the LP vote in 2018 indicates the strength of the particular candidate rather than an expression of dissatisfaction.

    That’s it.

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  19. Beth says:

    @Moosebreath:

    In general, I agree with you and Stormy, however, that rests on the assumption that Breyer* intends to (or can be pressured to) retire at the end of the term. Personally, I just assume he’s going to die in office in 2023. The same with a bunch of other old ass judges.

    The other problem with the Judges is that we (Democrats/Left) have lost that war by not fighting the Republicans tooth and nail for the last 20 years. We’ve been nominating and seating normal, competent old people for years while the Rs keep putting up young reactionaries. We need to be seating radical teenagers at this point (I’m only sorta joking). On the larger point, the judges aren’t going to matter if the Rs end the ability of people to vote for Democrats or anyone other than hand selected lunatics. Roberts isn’t dying or retiring. Thomas is having the time of his miserable life.

    Anyway, if Manchin and Sinema don’t get with the program, it’s going to take drastic and escalating action to reverse any of the shit coming down the pike.

    *mea culpa, in my mind Stevens and Breyer at the same old interchangeable white guy. I can never remember they actually exist as two separate people.

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  20. atlman says:

    The unintelligent homosapiens is the writer of this column. First, now you see why Republicans hated John McCain all these years. The Democrats who gave McCain all those “profiles in courage” for things like JOINING WITH THE DEMOCRATS TO PRESERVE THE FILIBUSTER for judicial nominations during the Bush administration in order to keep Miguel Estrada off the federal bench (he would have gotten the Supreme Court spot that ultimately went to Kavanaugh and served as the counterweight to Sotomayor) but are now tearing Manchin to shreds are every bit the craven hypocrites that right wingers said you would be.

    Second, as recently as the Bush administration the Democratic Party had legitimate moderates who disagreed with the national party and progressive activists on substantive policy issues. Back then the Democrats were a legitimate big tent party with ideological and geographic diversity. Those days are over: the Democrats are ideologically homogenous. Manchin is merely a throwback to the days when red state Dems were routinely to the right of blue state GOPers. In that context, as he actually votes with the Dems 80% of the time and has only opposed a single Obama or Biden nominee – which WAS NOT the case of red state Dems just a few election cycles ago who voted with the party maybe half the time and played a role in torpedoing controversial nominees as Arkansas Senator David Pryor did to Lani Guinier (an early proponent of ranked choice voting) – Manchin isn’t even that conservative.

    Finally, Manchin actually is opposed to HR 1 on policy grounds. The result of HR 1 would be a political situation akin to what we have in Europe where the large population centers dominate and the rural areas are completely voiceless (a point in the French “yellow jacket” protests and also to Brexit which basically devolved into “cosmopolitan London versus everybody else”). And it would actually be worse because at least Europe has the benefit of multiparty coalition politics. In the United States you would have the Democratic Party dominating nationally with the Democratic Party being dominated by California, the northeast and national progressive activist groups. What kind of a voice do you suppose West Virginia – and every other flyover country place – would have? For example, when Manchin stated that where a $15 minimum wage would reduce poverty in New York (median household: $70,000) or California ($75,000) in West Virginia (median household: $45,000) it would INCREASE poverty so it would need to be proportionally lower?

    Also, if you were as smart as you believe yourself to be, you would know that Manchin and Sinema aren’t alone. Several Democrats in the Senate – if you look at a map you can guess who they are – also want to preserve the filibuster because it is bottling up a lot of legislation that is unpopular in their states (as well as not being in their states’ interests) also. As far as HR1, several Senate Dems support it only because they know that the Supreme Court is going to gut it.

    Yes, the GOP is “the party of no.” However, a lot of it is payback from similar obstructionist tactics that the Democrats indulged in during the Bush and Trump administrations. While it was “fine” during the Bush era as he was a classic neocon who opposed the Democratic policy agenda on every issue, Trump was a heterodox politician. For example, the Democrats could have joined forces with Trump to pass this same infrastructure bill at any point between January 2017 and the COVID-19 shutdown in 1Q 2020. They refused on that issue and a number of others because they didn’t want to lend Trump legitimacy. Republicans know this and are furious. NOTHING that the Democrats bottled up for 4 years because they didn’t to give Trump a photo op is going to pass UNLESS the Dems own up to their own history of pettiness and obstruction. Hold a press conference, admit “yeah we could have done some good work on infrastructure, criminal justice reform, mental health, even gun control and a number of our other priorities that Trump went on record as supporting … but we chose to block any and all Trump accomplishments in order to win Congress and the White House. We aren’t going to apologize for it but we did do it so we need to find a way to move past this because the GOP is clearly trying to do the same thing to us that we did to them and this is unsustainable” and go from there.

    Instead right now you have the same people who were hanging onto the filibuster tooth and nail just a few months ago when Trump wanted to get rid of it in order to pass a border wall law calling it a Jim Crow tool today. Seriously how do you expect the GOP to act when you pull nonsense like that? Stop trying to govern the whole country the way you govern Portland and just maybe you get Manchin and 10 GOPers on board. Otherwise they have no incentive to do anything different. (Especially when “something different” means enshrining a permanent Democratic majority which at times will be a supermajority … the GOP isn’t going to go for that no matter how much you claim that they are a bunch of racist fascists. Or ESPECIALLY if you keep calling them racist fascists.) Which is exactly the point that Manchin is trying to make.

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  21. flat earth luddite says:

    Sorry, King Daddy, but I have to agree that this is a deadly insult to Stupid Apes™. Hell, I’ve lived with smarter prison inmates, which would include the one who wanted to dress up as cops to rob drug dealers in the early 80’s. And then there was his plan to lure the police to a gas station that was wired to blow up… and this was his distraction.

    Compared to that guy, Munchkin-dude has the intelligence of a dried dog turd.

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  22. Jack curley says:

    @Stormy Dragon: The Senate Republicans have stated they will not negotiate in good faith, McConnell again saying he will block every bit of legislation from the Democrats…. Joe, time to step up and be counted !

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