Why media liberals and Democrats are suddenly trashing Joe Manchin

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How much do liberal commentators despise Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., for not rolling over for the Biden agenda?

Jemele Hill, an Atlantic contributor, tweeted this: “Record number of Black voters show up to save this democracy, only for white supremacy to be upheld by a cowardly, power-hungry White dude.” The African-American writer called Manchin “a clown.”

Not a terribly polite way to treat a guy when you need his 50th vote in the Senate. But Hill is hardly alone.

The West Virginia lawmaker is not a coward, or a clown, and I don’t get the sense that he’s enjoying the influence that his unique leverage affords him. 

The easy thing would be to go along with everything the Democrats want. But that might be a one-way ticket out of politics in the red state he represents.

What the Beltway cynics refuse to understand is that Manchin is standing by his principles as he sees them. He genuinely believes that working with the other party is the best way to govern. He may be wrong or short-sighted—he denied to Chris Wallace that he’s being “naïve”—but he’s been consistent.

It is Manchin’s opposition to the sweeping For the People Act, which ranges from voting rights to D.C. statehood, that is prompting media liberals to denounce him with such fervor. 

The New York Times, in an ostensible news story, said Manchin would not vote for a “far-reaching bill to combat voter suppression” and “restore many of the ethical controls on the presidency that Donald J. Trump shattered.”

Do you have the impression the Times favors the bill and doesn’t like Trump?

MSNBC’s Joy Reid has said Manchin is “out of control” and acting like he thinks he’s the majority leader.

The banner headline in the left-wing HuffPost: “BLOWBACK AT MANCHIN: WOULD ‘PRESERVE JIM CROW’ TO PLEASE GOP.” (The quote comes from Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones). Another Democratic House member, Jamaal Bowman, took to CNN Sunday to call Manchin “the new Mitch McConnell.”

But the frontal attacks on Manchin either ignore or minimize that he favors a narrower voting bill named for the late John Lewis. 

As the onetime governor put it in an op-ed for the Charleston Gazette-Mail: “Do we really want to live in an America where one party can dictate and demand everything and anything it wants, whenever it wants?”

In that vein, Manchin has also been a leading proponent of the White House cutting an infrastructure deal with the GOP. President Joe Biden would undoubtedly like that as well. But despite concessions on both sides, they are hundreds of billions of dollars apart and in fundamental disagreement on raising taxes (at least on corporations) to pay for what is now a trillion-dollar Democratic plan.

The senator doesn’t have much to show for his efforts. He wanted a bipartisan deal to create a commission to investigate the Capitol riot, but Republicans bailed after months of negotiations. Rachel Maddow said mockingly of Manchin that she was “shocked that he’s shocked” at the outcome.

And Times columnist Michelle Goldberg accuses Manchin and his fellow renegade, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., of “nihilistic bipartisanship.”

Their clout is rooted in the fact that nothing passes the Senate (except in rare cases of budget reconciliation) without 60 votes. So now some Democrats are angry that Manchin and Sinema won’t join them in blowing up the filibuster.

Trump praised Manchin Sunday in an interview with Fox Business. Of course, Trump spent his years as president urging McConnell to dump the filibuster. It’s a very attractive nuclear option for the party in power—and always resisted by the minority party.

I happen to think Manchin is overestimating the chances of bipartisan cooperation on just about anything. But he’s taken the same stance on the filibuster for many years, and made clear for months that he’s not going to ram through massive liberal legislation without trying to enlist the other side.

For that, he may suffer the fate of John McCain, who won the animosity of some Republicans by famously blocking ObamaCare in a late-night vote, coupled with abusive treatment by the media. But one way or another, Joe Biden and his allies have to find a way to deal with the other Joe. 

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