Not just for defending the filibuster, of course. According to a new poll, 72 percent of West Virginians support Manchin’s decision to tank Biden’s Build Back Better bill, as one would expect in a state as conservative as theirs.
He must be Republicans’ favorite Democrat in all the world at this point.
Well, top two, anyway.
West Virginia’s House and Senate are heavily Republican, as you might expect, so this applause is driven by partisan interest at least as much as it is by admiration for Manchin’s stand on principle. But even so, you can see how this guy has somehow managed to win two terms as governor and two terms as senator as a Democrat in a blood-red state. He’s good at politics, full stop.
Great to be back in @wvhouse and @wvsenate today. I had the chance to talk with so many West Virginians in our Capitol and hear their common sense thoughts and ideas on how we can make our state and country work better. pic.twitter.com/pYKWeoaLsZ
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) January 25, 2022
James Carville was asked a few days ago by Vox whether Democrats should be mad at Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema for thwarting Biden first on BBB and then for refusing to end the filibuster to pass voting-rights reform. Damn right they should be mad at Sinema, Carville said. But Manchin? Are you joking?
Understand that Joe Manchin is a Roman Catholic Democrat in a state in which not a single county has voted Democrat [for president] since 2008. I repeat: not a single county has voted Democrat since 2008.
Politics is about choices, and he’s up for reelection in 2024. If Manchin runs for reelection, I’ll do everything I can to help him because it’s either going to be Joe Manchin or Marsha Blackburn. It ain’t Joe Manchin or Ed Markey. You got to understand that. It’s really that damn simple…
Look, I’m a liberal Democrat. Always have been. But some of these people bitching about Manchin can’t see political reality straight. Six percent of adults in this country identify as “progressive.” Only 11 or 12 percent of Democrats identify as progressive. So let’s just meet in the middle and say something like 7 or 8 percent of the country agrees with the progressive left. This ain’t a goddamn debate anymore. Someone like Manchin is closer to the mainstream than a lot of these people think, and pretending like he isn’t won’t help the cause.
The art of politics when you’re a member of one party representing a state dominated by the other is knowing how to pick your spots, doling out wins to your base and to the other team as needed to preserve your position with both. Manchin’s going to do something for his base on Biden’s Supreme Court nominee:
In a positive sign for Dems, Manchin is not expressing objections to the quick timeframe envisioned by Schumer to confirm Biden's SCOTUS pick, per source.
Schumer wants to advance the nomination as quickly as Rs moved ACB but can only do so if he has enough support
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 28, 2022
That’s a smart play, reminding the left that it really is better off with him as the party’s nominee in West Virginia than with a liberal who’d get slaughtered by a Republican, no matter how mad at him they might be right now. In all of the public debates in which he’s played a key role lately, Manchin has been scrupulous about projecting reasonable centrism. He walked away from BBB — but only after negotiating with Biden for months. He stood by the filibuster — but made clear that he supported the underlying voting-rights bills. He won’t guarantee that he’ll vote for Biden’s SCOTUS nominee — but he won’t obstruct the process and won’t hold ideological differences against her.
I glossed over it earlier but the YouGov poll I posted this afternoon found double-digit support for Manchin as an independent candidate for president in 2024 across all three partisan groups. He did best among Republicans(!) with 16 percent, then indies with 15 percent, and finally Democrats with 10. If we end up with [shudder] a Trump/Harris election next cycle, I wonder if there won’t be some effort to convince Manchin to run third-party. He’d be old (he’s 74 now) but no older than Trump or Biden.
Manchin/Sinema 2024? The left would have an absolute conniption, fearing that ticket would draw more centrist votes away from the Democratic nominee than from the Republican. Maybe a fusion ticket instead then, Manchin/Toomey or something? Could be fun!
Your exit quotation comes from GOP mega-donor Ken Langone, who just kicked in five grand to Manchin’s leadership PAC to thank him for the example he’s set lately. “I don’t see leadership any place in this country. Thank God for Joe Manchin,” Langone said in November. “I’m going to have one of the biggest fundraisers I’ve ever had for him. He’s special. He’s precious. He’s a great American.”