If 2021 had a proud legislative hero, who fought valiantly for all that’s good and just, there must also come their mirror opposite, the legislative shitheel.

The Senate’s most useless Democrat, Kyrsten Sinema, was a strong contender, as was "Republican caucus," but Joe Manchin is the undisputed champion. Now, you might wonder, “C’mon, surely, there’s an openly seditious Republican more deserving of the dishonor? What’s Marjorie Taylor Green gotta do to get some hate around there?”

Here’s where I invoke a favorite scene from "The Flash" TV show: It’s been revealed that the villain Zoom has been posing as his alternate Earth’s Flash. Why the charade, our heroes ask? “To give people hope,” Zoom cruelly responds, “so I could rip it away from them.”


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As a Democrat, Joe Manchin offered us hope that he constantly ripped away. After Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won the US Senate runoffs in Georgia, we were hopeful that we might see some important change. We weren’t naive. We knew Democrats had a bare-ass minimum majority. I know I didn’t expect Medicare for All or a wealth tax. But I thought we’d advance the ball as far as we could, at least deliver fully on President Joe Biden’s campaign platform. Oh, and since Republicans enabled Donald Trump’s jacklegged coup, maybe Democrats would shore up voting rights and preserve democracy — just a thought.

But whenever we dared hope, the senator from West Virginia was there to say “no.”

Let us now count the many ways that Joe Manchin proved beyond all doubt that he was this year’s legislative shitheel.

  • Manchin’s big epiphany after Trump-supporting white supremacists attacked the Capitol was that Democrats should never do anything that would offend white supremacist Trump supporters. That’s apparently too "divisive.” No, Manchin would double-down on “bipartisanship,” which he defines as only supporting policies that has Mitch McConnell’s demonic stamp of approval. That’s exactly why 81 million Americans voted for Joe Biden.
  • The first victim of Manchin’s bipartisan inclusivity was Neera Tanden, whose nomination for director of the Office of Management and Budget he killed because she apparently wrote some mean tweets about Republicans who deserved them. So much cancel culture! Somehow a woman of color suffered directly because white supremacists attacking the Capitol made Manchin even more determined to play footsie with the white supremacist political party.
  • Oh, Manchin’s stated reasoning for tanking Tanden’s nomination is probably bullshit. Tanden once criticized some BS defense for Mylan CEO Heather Bresch's exorbitant CEO pay. Bresch is Manchin’s daughter and pharmaceutical price-gouging monster.


  • Manchin, who represents a state that’s 94 percent white, opposed a House bill that would’ve granted statehood to Washington DC, which is 44 percent Black. I’m sure race wasn’t the sole reason for his opposition. That’s just how these things shake out.
  • In September, Manchin raised the possibility of not supporting Build Back Better — almost the entirety of President Joe Biden's domestic agenda — in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, a publication we assume West Virginia coal miners regularly read on their lunch breaks.
  • When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out Manchin’s “weekly huddles with Exxon,” which obviously influences his opposition to any reasonable climate change policies, Manchin dismissively referred to her as a “young lady” he didn’t know “that well.” She’s his professional colleague. (He should have just dismissed the weekly huddles with Exxon as having more influence over him than huddling with himself, since he's his own Exxon.)
  • Manchin claimed America is a “center-right nation,” which is an odd way of counting Joe Biden’s 81 million votes.
  • Manchin — like Sinema — is a stalwart defender of the filibuster (i.e., the Democratic Face Puncher 5000) despite all reason. It’s like he wants Democrats to get their faces punched.
  • Manchin refused to support the For the People Act because he considered it “partisan” to defend voting rights. He insisted that he’d only back a voting rights bill that has bipartisan support. Naturally, he’s struggled to find many Republicans who’d support even the most moderate Stop Republicans from Cheating Bill.
  • Manchin announced on the Sunday before Christmas that he wouldn’t support Build Back Better under any circumstances, so stop asking him, you deadbeats.
  • A significant number of Democrats (far more than the Republicans who flipped) supported the bipartisan infrastructure framework because they trusted Manchin to come through on BBB. He made them look like chumps.
  • Senate Majority Leader God King Emperor Manchin told people with human ears that he believed parents would use their child tax credits for drugs.
  • Manchin also claimed that if West Virginians had paid sick leave they’d cheat their noble employers and spend the day hunting. He should meet better people.

This is a hardly brief but also not conclusive list of all the reasons Joe Manchin sucks.

Don’t get discouraged, Senator Sinema. 2022 could be your year.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."

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