A lame attack, but what else can one expect from a president who promised bipartisanship and then tried to govern by brute majoritarianism? Frustrated by a lack of progress in Congress, Joe Biden accused Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin of voting more often with the GOP than with their own party. That’s demonstrably false, but Biden apparently wants to signal open season the pair — and on the filibuster:
President Biden zinged Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin during a speech Tuesday — insinuating that they align themselves more with Republicans than their own party — while calling for Congress to take action on legislation to protect voting rights.
While he didn’t name them, Biden indirectly referred to Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sinema, D-Ariz., as “two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends.”
“I hear all the folks on [TV] saying, ‘Why doesn’t Biden get this done?’” he said at an event in Tulsa, Okla. “Well, because Biden only has a majority of effectively four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate, with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends.”
How dishonest is this attack? We’ll get to that in a moment. Suffice it to say that Biden’s not interested in truth; he’s interested in winning. This accusation, as ludicrous as it is, sends a signal to Democrats and their grassroots to go after Manchin and Sinema over the filibuster. It sends a signal to the media too, and the Washington Post seems to have heard the call:
Democratic leaders and activists are urgently stepping up pressure on Sen. Joe Manchin III to support legislation to fight Republican-led voting restrictions across the country, with party officials increasingly concluding that the battle over voting rights could come down to what the centrist Democrat from West Virginia does.
In a rare show of public frustration with his own party on Tuesday, President Biden appeared to lash out at Manchin when he accused a pair of unnamed senators of aligning too closely with Republicans and stalling efforts to pass sweeping voting standards. …
Although Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) stand out in their caucus for both their willingness to work with the other side and their support for the filibuster, both vote mostly with the party. But the point of Biden’s remark was clear, sending a sharp message about his willingness to call out even some of his allies.
Oddly, Post reporters Sean Sullivan and Michael DeBonis apparently didn’t bother to check those voting records carefully. They don’t “mostly” vote with the party; they vote entirely with the party, and Biden’s flat-out lying. It’s not as if the data isn’t readily available, either in raw form or in analysis. Just a few days ago, FiveThirtyEight charted out the voting pattern in this session of Congress:
Both Manchin and Sinema have voted with Biden 100% of the time this session. In fact, it’s progressives like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Patty Murray, and Chris Van Hollen who have the greatest deviation from Biden, although the scale of their mutiny is mighty small. Van Hollen has the worst record at only a paltry 96.6% loyalty to the president.
In other words, Biden told a bald-face lie about the voting records of Manchin and Sinema. As the chart shows, however, Biden’s also lying about “my Republican friends,” who show a lot more bipartisanship than the Democratic half of the Senate. Even the most partisan among them vote far more often with Biden than progressives dissent from Biden’s party line; Josh Hawley votes with Biden 13.3% of the time, and Ted Cruz votes with him 16.7% of the time. Twenty-seven of the 50 Republicans vote with Biden at least half of the time.
With all of that Democratic unity and Republican cooperation, why can’t Biden get his top agenda items through Congress? It’s because Biden’s top agenda items are too radical and the product of Democrat-only creation. That’s especially true of his “For the People Act,” which would federalize elections and strip states of popular practices such as voter ID. The problem isn’t Sinema and Manchin, or the filibuster — the problem is Biden. Any suggestion otherwise is, as Biden himself would say, malarkey.