Why is Joe Manchin?

A Democratic senator from the ruby red state of West Virginia, he'll always be more right-leaning than colleagues like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker or Kirsten Gillibrand. But the frustrating way Manchin has wielded his power as one of two or three swing votes in a fragile Democratic Senate majority has confounded many.

One of them is Jake Tapper, host of CNN's "State of the Union" and the apparently very proud owner of new horn-rimmed glasses.

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Tapper began by asking a very common sense question:

TAPPER: So, after changes that you pushed for, enhanced federal unemployment benefits now expire about a month earlier, and there's a new income cap for writing them off on your taxes, I have to say, you represent one of the lowest-income states in the nation. Why were you fighting for less help for citizens during this cruel economic time?

Instead of answering the question, Manchin touted the good stuff in the Covid relief bill, while touting how "targeted" the relief is, in the middle of a pandemic that has affected everyone. Manchin saying people desperately need relief, and that people are in dire need "by no fault of their own," then chipping away at the amount and length of said help (something the Republican governor of his state disagrees with!) seems counter-intuitive.


Tapper asked Manchin about his opposition to raising the minimum wage to $15 as part of the bill:

MANCHIN: Well, Jake, we're going to go and do something, because there's not one senator out of 100, not one, that does not want to raise the minimum wage, not one.[...]
And with that said, we're going to make that happen. The $15 minimum wage never fit in this piece of reconciliation. Those are the rules of the Senate. And we knew that from day one. They made a big -- I know they made a big issue about this. And I understand.

Senate rules can and have been changed many times in the past. I'm sure Manchin has been made aware of this after weeks of lobbying and historians pointing it out.

Manchin has a confounding obsession with upholding the "Byrd Rule" for bills passed through reconciliation, named after a late former senator who also happens to have been a former KKK recruiter. And Manchin has also had a confounding obsession with preserving the filibuster, which the same Robert Byrd did for 14 hours in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Indeed, the filibuster has heavily been used as a tool to kill civil rights legislation.

Chris Wallace asked Manchin about where he stands on the filibuster on "Fox News Sunday," and while Manchin didn't exactly change his position, he said "it should be painful" for senators who want to use it.

He said functionally the same thing on "Meet The Press" with Chuck Todd:

"If you want to make it a little bit more painful, make him stand there and talk, I'm willing to look at any way we can," Mr. Manchin said of the filibuster on NBC's "Meet the Press." "But I'm not willing to take away the involvement of the minority."

This idea seems valid to me. Restoring the filibuster to a more Mr. Smith Goes To Washington-esque status might make senators less inclined to abuse it every chance they get. And to be clear, as subtle as this shift from Manchin is, it's huge that he's making it right now.

One more funny moment with Joe Manchin and we're done. When he was on the CNN show, he must have gotten confused and thought he was on the Chuck Todd show, and he accidentally called Jake Tapper "Chuck"! Because he was doing all the shows because he is the center of attention, so he didn't even know where he was!

Help him out, Jake!

TAPPER: I know you're doing the round of shows today, but just to remind you, I'm Jake, not Chuck.

We understand, Jake. We wouldn't want anybody calling us "Chuck Todd" either.

Have a week!

[New York Times]

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Michael Mora

Pop Culture observer & Comics fan. Amateur Movie Reviewer. Political Freelance Writer @wonkette. Marine, Husband & Dad. Opinions are mine only.

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