Manchin to Schumer: Your speech was "f*****g stupid"

Manchin to Schumer: Your speech was "f*****g stupid"
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool

Just how badly has Senate control undermined Democratic unity? And how far will it go? Punchbowl reports this morning that four different sources say that Joe Manchin confronted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer after his remarks blasting Republicans while taking their debt-ceiling deal. Manchin told Schumer that his remarks were … cool? Helpful? Amusing?


Er … not exactly:

There was some last-minute drama, as well. Schumer went to the floor and harshly criticized Republicans for provoking the crisis. Schumer won this round of his never-ending battle with McConnell, and he made sure everyone knew it. But Republicans — and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — didn’t like the tone of Schumer’s remarks. Senate Minority Whip John Thune complained personally to Schumer on the floor, while Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) complained to reporters.

Manchin told Schumer the speech was “fucking stupid,” according to four sources. Then Manchin complained to reporters too. The incident doesn’t really signify anything, except to show how tense everyone is in the Senate these days. And it’s only going to get worse.

First off, it’s not at all clear that Schumer won anything, which is why he was so angry yesterday about accepting McConnell’s short-term compromise. McConnell didn’t win much either, after having to whip ten reluctant and angry members of his own caucus to defeat a filibuster, but he did keep Democrats from getting a debt suspension — a blank check — rather than a short-term hike. It also relieves a little of the pressure off of Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on the filibuster, at least for a few weeks. And Schumer found out just how brief this reprieve will be, as even an assist from McConnell almost failed to resolve this standoff.

Furthermore, Schumer’s speech backfired in the sense that it further alienated not just some Republicans who are willing to collaborate in some policy discussions, but also Manchin — who still is the key to Schumer’s control of the Senate. Maybe this one tiff doesn’t “signify anything,” as Punchbowl asserts, but it does at least point out how unhappy Manchin is with his caucus at the moment, and how entrenched that division has become. More on that in a moment.


CNN’s Manu Raju reports from the other side of the Manchin-Bernie Sanders feud, which is also making Schumer’s job impossible:

The two men — Sanders and Manchin — are trillions apart on their price tags, have far different ideas on what policies are needed, are at odds over the breadth of the new social programs in the proposal and are diametrically opposed about a central pillar in the package: dealing with climate change.

And increasingly, the feud has become public.

“I can’t speak for Mr. Manchin. I’m not a psychologist,” Sanders told CNN recently when asked about Manchin’s criticism of the economic package.

It’s pretty clear where the sympathies of the Senate Democrat caucus lie in this feud:

“Off the charts,” one Democratic senator told CNN on Thursday when asked about the caucus’ frustration with Manchin, contending many senators privately gripe that the West Virginia Democrat takes his public stands for “publicity” reasons.

Biden himself has sounded exasperated at both Manchin and Sinema, according to Democratic lawmakers who have spoken to him. The President told progressives this week that he has spent many hours with the two senators “and they don’t move,” two sources said. Biden even contended that Sinema didn’t always return calls from the White House, the sources added.

It’s gotten so bad, Raju reports, that now no one can see how to resolve the feud. Sanders has taken to insulting Manchin publicly, and while Manchin says he takes nothing personally, he’s also digging in even deeper over the last 48 hours. Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have become so persona non grata that Joe Biden won’t even extend to Sinema the Exalted Democrat Order of The Victim after getting harassed in public restrooms and on planes by Bernie-Bro activists.


So why don’t they “move,” as Biden complains? First, they can do math, a skill that the White House apparently lacks.

  • Equation 1: 50/50 and 220/212. Democrats barely have control of both chambers of Congress, which means that radical changes are not just impossible, they’re platforms for political disaster when they inevitably fail.
  • Equation 2: Biden lost West Virginia by 39 points.
  • Equation 3: Biden won Arizona by 0.4 points, and only because Trump proved so unpopular in that state.
  • Equation 4: Adding up all of the COVID-19 relief bills passed by Congress shows that the US has already appropriated over $5.3 trillion in off-budget spending.
  • Equation 5: Annual inflation has risen to 5.25% at the end of August, which is not at all coincidental to Equation 4.

Under these circumstances, the real “f*****g stupid” move is to govern from the position of the Bernie Bros. Schumer’s speech is just an outcome of that idiotic strategic decision by Joe Biden to act as though he were Barack Obama and that he had the numbers from 2009 in crafting his domestic-priority agenda.

At this point, it might be a bit more realistic to play the “will Manchin flip?” game, given how corrosive relations with him are now in Schumer’s caucus — not to mention his political status in West Virginia. Right now, though, one has to wonder whether Mitch McConnell really wants control of a 51/49 Senate. Other than block nominees, McConnell won’t be able to do much … and his own performative subcaucus would likely make his life as miserable as Schumer’s is at the moment.


Instead, the smart move for McConnell and all other Republicans and conservatives is to … well,  you know

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