Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) appeared on Meet the Press Sunday to defend his surrender on a smaller Build Back Better bill. During the interview, host Chuck Todd asked Manchin several times if he wanted Democrats to win back Congress in November. Manchin’s responses will not make him any more friends on his own side of the aisle, even though many Americans would agree with him.
First, Todd asked Manchin, “Senator Manchin, what is your case for Democrats to keep control of the House and Senate this election year?” After a pregnant pause, Manchin responded, “I don’t know. I just, if you look back through history,” Manchin fumbled, “it makes it very difficult. Especially in the most toxic times we’ve ever seen. So, it’s up in the air right now, whether the House…”
Not satisfied, Todd interrupted and asked directly, “Would you like, do you hope Democrats keep control of the House and Senate?” With eyes wide after another pause, Manchin answered, “I think people are sick and tired of politics, Chuck. I really do.”
Manchin shrugged. “I think they are sick and tired of Democrats and Republicans fighting and feuding and holding pieces of legislation hostage because they didn’t get what they wanted. Or something. Or someone might get credit for something.”
“Why don’t we start doing something for our country?” Manchin asked. “Why don’t we just say this is good for America? I have always said the best politics is good government. Do something good, Chuck.” He added, ” But I am not going to predict what is going to happen.”
Recommended: The Incredible Implosion of Team Kamala
Todd interrupted again and said, “I am not asking you to predict. What result do you want?” he asked emphatically. “Do you want Democrats to keep control of the United States Senate and the House of Representatives?”
Manchin fumbled again, “Oh, I’d love, I am not making those choices and decisions. I am going to work with whatever I have.” He continued, “I have always said that. I think the Democrats have great candidates they’re running. Good people I’ve worked with.”
“And I have a tremendous amount of respect and friendship with my Republican colleagues. So I can work on either side very easily.” Of course, Manchin has to. He is the only elected Democrat for federal office from a deep red state, meaning his only hope for survival is what resembles a Blue Dog Democrat stance. “So you don’t care about the outcome this year?” Todd challenged Manchin.
“Well, whatever the voters choose. I can’t decide what is going to happen in Kansas or California, or Texas. I really can’t. I’ve always taken the approach, whoever you send me, that your representative and I respect them. And I respect the state for the people they sent, and I give them my best to work with them to do the best for my country.” All the while, Todd was dying to butt in with his signature pointing pen with an exasperated look.
“I don’t play the politics that way. I never have. That’s not who I am,” Manchin concluded.
Todd went on to ask him if the more moderate third party announced by Andrew Yang, Christine Todd Whitman, and others last week appealed to Manchin based on his answers about the midterms. Manchin responded, “Well, I am starting to wonder when we are going to start worrying about our country more than we do our political parties. That’s what scares me. I think we all have to come back to what our purpose of being in Washington for and who we are working for.”
Manchin shrugged. “We are not working for any party. We’re not working for any political idealism.” He went on to list the geopolitical and domestic threats that America faces. Todd was nearly dumbstruck during Manchin’s final monologue. In a way, the entire exchange was sad to watch.
Manchin truly believes Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and President Biden will come through with permitting reform for the fossil fuel industry in exchange for his vote on the spending bill. In fact, cheaper energy and energy independence is how he defends the economics of the bill. I guess he missed Schumer breaking his word to Minority Leader McConnell by voting on Build Back Better lite at all. Even Todd seemed to doubt the wisdom of deferring the legislation on permitting.
Manchin is also articulating an outdated version of Washington, D.C. that many politicians, media figures like Todd, and the coasts more generally, no longer hold. Elected representatives in Washington, D.C., including almost all Democrats and some Republicans, prefer to defer to the “experts” who will tell us the right thing to do. Those “experts” are not going to let Biden ramp up drilling. Just like they would have kept kids out of school for two years over COVID-19 if they could have.
Manchin has been alternately harassed by his far left wing and embraced by Republicans who believed he would be a brake against further reckless spending. In the end, neither are happy with him, and it is not clear that the voters of West Virginia will gain anything. He is a who no longer has a party and a throwback to a different time.
WATCH the exchange between Senator Joe Manchin and Chuck Todd: