Dem meltdown: Bernie says he'll back primary challenges to pro-filibuster Dems, Manchin says bring it on

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

I was going to say “Dems in disarray” in the headline but this feels like more than disarray. This dumb party is losing its g-ddamned mind.

Threatening to primary a colleague in a Trump +40 state isn’t even the dumbest move they’re making at the moment. The dumbest has to be Chuck Schumer threatening to force a floor vote on ending the filibuster, knowing what an agonizing dilemma that’ll be — not for Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who’ve made their support for the filibuster clear many times in public already, but for their colleagues on the ballot this fall in swing states. How do you feel about casting that futile and therefore wholly unnecessary vote if you’re Mark Kelly or Maggie Hassan or Raphael Warnock?

I wonder if that’s Bernie’s strategy here, in fact. Maybe he’s trying to limit defections on the issue and bind the rest of the caucus to an anti-filibuster line. Having the most prominent progressive in America signal to lefties in swing states that they shouldn’t support a pro-filibuster incumbent makes this even tougher for Kelly et al.

That might force Democratic candidates on the ballot in November to side with the left in getting rid of the filibuster, which will be nice turnout fuel for Republicans in those states.

One Democrat who’s not on the ballot this year and palpably doesn’t care about being primaried from the left laughed off Bernie’s threat afterward:

You would have thought progressives might realize after the infrastructure fiasco that they have no — zero — leverage over Joe Manchin. Unless Sanders is so pissed at him at this point that he’d rather see a Republican hold that seat, backing a primary against Manchin in West Virginia would get him nothing. His candidate would lose badly, and then the left would have to decide whether they’re willing to spite their own party for the sake of spiting Manchin by staying home in the general election. “Plot twist: After they lose the Senate to Republicans due to these primary challenges, all Democrats suddenly support the filibuster,” said one Twitter pal.

But then, Bernie’s comment wasn’t really aimed at Manchin, was it? The other half of the “Manchinema” equation is at far greater risk of a successful primary challenge from the left — although I continue to think the left will be in no mood for tossing out incumbents in 2024 when they’ll be battling on all fronts to retain control over some part of the federal government. They hate Sinema, but they hate her less than they will the Republican who’d replace her.

Manchin demonstrated how unthreatened he feels by kicking his party in the nuts again this afternoon, warning them that Schumer’s new scheme to try to force the GOP into a “talking filibuster” of the voting rights package is also a nonstarter:

I wonder how much more nonsense he’ll tolerate from the left before he starts musing publicly about switching parties. If you want Schumer, Biden, and Sanders to shut up already, that’s the way to do it. Nothing would get them to mind their manners like the thought of Mitch McConnell suddenly back in charge of the Senate before the president’s had a chance to fill any Supreme Court vacancies.

Is Manchin even interested in the voting rights bills anymore? I think he’ll vote for them if they hit the floor but it sounds like he’s moved on to more important legislation, fixing the Electoral Count Act:

He could challenge Schumer and Sanders on that too. “I’m only willing to work on reforms that have bipartisan support and the ECA has that. Are you with me?” That’ll be an early test of whether progressives are willing to cut off their nose to spite their face by punishing Manchin. The ECA desperately needs work, but at this point lefties may be tired of letting him dictate the agenda. Imagine if reforming the Electoral Count Act to avert another January 6 fiasco ends up roadblocked because progressives are madder at Manchinema than they are at Trump.

I’ll leave you with this poor bastard, whose time dodging questions about the filibuster is drawing to a close thanks to his own idiot leadership. Says Charles Cooke, “Kelly is absolutely desperate not to have to take a position on this, but master strategist Chuck Schumer is going to force him to do just that.”