Put Not Your Faith in Manchin - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Put Not Your Faith in Manchin
Joe Manchin in 2017 (Senate Democrats/Creative Commons)

By now you’ve at least heard about, though probably not read, that Mother Jones story about how Sen. Joe Manchin, the “conservative” West Virginia Democrat who has stood athwart his party’s plans to spend the country into peonage, is threatening to abandon the “D” next to his name.

In recent days, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has told associates that he is considering leaving the Democratic Party if President Joe Biden and Democrats on Capitol Hill do not agree to his demand to cut the size of the social infrastructure bill from $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion, according to people who have heard Manchin discuss this. Manchin has said that if this were to happen, he would declare himself an “American Independent.” And he has devised a detailed exit strategy for his departure.

Manchin has been in the center of a wild rush of negotiations with his fellow Democrats and the White House over a possible compromise regarding Biden’s ambitious Build Back Better package, and Manchin’s opposition to key provisions — including Medicare and Medicaid expansion, an expanded child tax credit, and measures to address climate change — has been an obstacle that the Democrats have yet to overcome. As these talks have proceeded, Manchin has discussed bolting from the Democratic Party—perhaps to place pressure on Biden and Democrats in these negotiations.

He told associates that he has a two-step plan for exiting the party. First, he would send a letter to Sen. Chuck Schumer, the top Senate Democrat, removing himself from the Democratic leadership of the Senate. (He is vice chair of the Senate Democrats’ policy and communications committee.) Manchin hopes that would send a signal. He would then wait and see if that move had any impact on the negotiations. After about a week, he said, he would change his voter registration from Democrat to independent.

When the story came out, Manchin immediately disparaged it as fake news … or rather, a slightly stronger term…

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Wednesday dismissed a report that he is actively thinking about dropping out of the Democratic Party as “bullshit” and “rumors.”

“It’s bulls–t,” Manchin, a centrist, said bluntly after he was asked about a report published in Mother Jones that he has told “associates” he is actively thinking about leaving the Democratic Party.

“I have no control of rumors, guys. No control of rumors,” Manchin insisted after walking out of a lunch meeting with fellow Democratic committee chairmen just off the Senate floor.

And then there was this on Thursday…

Moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia said Thursday he had offered to drop his formal affiliation with the Democratic Party and instead be independent if he were causing a “problem” for the caucus.

He was asked by reporters at the Capitol about a report that he had threatened to leave the party if his demands weren’t met on the social spending bill under negotiation by moderate and progressive Democrats.

“No,” he said. But he disclosed a conversation in which he said that if he were ever “an embarrassment” to Democratic colleagues and the president, if “me being a moderate centrist Democrat if that causes you a problem, let me know, and I’d switch to be an independent, but I’d still be caucusing with Democrats.”

“That’s the only thing was ever discussed. No one accepted that, and I just said, ‘I’ll make that offer, if you need it,’” Manchin said, and he told reporters that his offer was “not accepted.” He denied that it was the confrontation portrayed by Mother Jones’ David Corn earlier this week. According to that report, Manchin had told associates he was considering leaving the party if President Biden and Democrats did not agree to cut the social spending bill from $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion, and he would declare himself an independent.

Can we just cut through the cloud of bulls–t here and be honest?

Yes, it would be very nice if Joe Manchin were to make good on whatever threat he made to Chuck Schumer earlier this week and switch to independent, then go further and refuse to caucus with the Democrats. He could abstain from the vote for Majority Leader and thus effectively hand the job over to Mitch McConnell.

It would be nice for Manchin to do this. Were Joe Manchin to leave the Democrats’ caucus and create a GOP majority, Joe Manchin could name whatever price he wanted for that favor. He could have what committee assignment he liked, he could be assured his bills would move … whatever. McConnell would deny him nothing, and he would be recognized and feted as the most powerful man not just in the Senate but perhaps in the entire U.S. government.

He would also all but insure his reelection in 2024. McConnell would starve whatever Republican opponent Manchin might have of campaign cash.

And the ideological ground Manchin has staked out puts him well within the territory of the centrist Republicans in the Senate. He’s out of place among the Democrats. Even Kyrsten Sinema, who is with Manchin in resisting the abject nuttery of this currency-debasing, nation-killing multi-trillion-dollar bacchanal, is significantly to his left.

But if Joe Manchin was going to abandon the Democrats he would have done it long ago.

Manchin would have done it back in 2018 when he was up for reelection. Back then, the GOP had a majority of 51-49 in the Senate. And while 2018 was a bad electoral year, that GOP majority grew to 54-46. It wasn’t a surprise to smart observers that this would be the case. Manchin himself was in pretty severe jeopardy that year in bright-red West Virginia; he ended up edging out that state’s Attorney General Patrick Morrissey by a 49.6 to 46.3 count. Only the presence of a Libertarian candidate in the race, who siphoned off four percent of the vote from Morrissey, saved Manchin.

Joe Biden’s approval rating in West Virginia, according to the most recent numbers from the CIVIQS state polling, is 19 percent. His disapproval rating is 76 percent. There is no reason to believe Biden’s numbers will appreciate there.

Joe Manchin has absolutely no intelligent political reason to stay a Democrat.

And yet he’s still a Democrat.

That tells you everything you need to know about Joe Manchin.

He’s not your friend. His goal is to shine the voters on as long as he can in presenting himself as representing the political center of the country in the U.S. Senate, and he will posture and fulminate until both sides praise him for his Solomonic wisdom in negotiating down the Biden agenda to something “manageable.”

Which will still be the better part of $2 trillion in unsustainable, destructive government expansion which crowds out the private sector and civil society, snuffs out individual liberty, and debases the currency at a time when inflation is already dangerously high.

Manchin will agree to this. Because he’s a Democrat. But he will have you believe he’s with the little people. That he’s not for an “entitlement society,” as he says. That he’s a “moderate.”

This is the game. It’s a farce and a fraud. There is no substance or merit in it. Joe Manchin isn’t a moderate. He certainly isn’t a conservative. He’s a grifter to whom the only thing that matters is hanging on to political power. In West Virginia that means pretending he’s not on Chuck Schumer’s side.

But you’ll know soon whether that’s true. If you don’t already.

Image: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
Scott McKay
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Scott McKay is publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics, and RVIVR.com, a national political news aggregation and opinion site. Additionally, he's the author of the new book The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win The Next American Era, available at Amazon.com. He’s also a writer of fiction — check out his three Tales of Ardenia novels Animus, Perdition and Retribution at Amazon. Scott's other project is The Speakeasy, a free-speech social and news app with benefits - check it out here.
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