+ Some politicians spend most of their careers reinventing themselves, trying to stay within the slipstream of current trends, never out front, never too far beyond. But that’s not Joe Manchin. His political identity has always been pretty transparent to those who care to look. Manchin’s not a complex operator. Frankly, he’s just a hack and apparently is proud to be one. He’s spent most of his political life doing the bidding of coal companies and Big Pharma. His conflicts of interests are so obvious that he almost gloats about them. For Manchin, such critiques are proof that he’s doing what he came to Washington to do: serve his financial backers.
Manchin didn’t rise into a pivotal position on the Hill. He fell into it. I’ve watched him for 20 years or so and have yet to detect any particular skill set. He’s not a gifted orator. He’s not a tactician or strategist. He doesn’t come up with new ideas or even repackaged old ones. Unlike his predecessors Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller, Manchin hasn’t been able to redirect stream of federal money and infrastructure projects into his destitute state. Mainly, he’s perfected the role (let’s refrain from calling it an “art”) of being a loud-mouthed impediment to progressive policies and exploiting that position for his personal advantage, which means more and more airtime. Lately, he’s been booked on more FoxNews shows than Glenn Greenwald.
Manchin is, it must be said, one of the vainest members in an institution renowned for its vanity. He delivers populist rhetoric with freshly manicured nails. Like most politicians, Manchin has contempt for the people who elected him and whose interests he must pretend to represent. But he doesn’t try to conceal his disdain. He can openly act as an agent of austerity in front of the very people in most desperate need of federal assistance, without a quiver in his voice. Most politicians blame people for their own suffering. But only a few, like Manchin, see their role in the prolongation of human suffering as a badge of honor.
Yet this preening obstructionist would have been smashed by the powerbrokers of old, senate leaders like LBJ, Mike Mansfield, even old Harry Reid. To the extent that Manchin has any real power today, it is because he has been indulged by those who have even more power, by people who understand how useful Manchin can be to the protection of their deeply vested interests. There are, I suspect, many Manchins in Biden’s house of Democrats, who are content to have him soak up the limelight, as he kills off policies they might feel forced to vote for but would prefer never pass. Manchin is so self-absorbed that he may not even realize how useful a stooge he is or who he is being used by and to what end. Manchin doesn’t mind being used, as long as he still gets the credit.
"Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime" - Aristotle "The more I see of the moneyed peoples, the more I understand the guillotine" - George Bernard Shaw "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable" - JFK "If wars can be started by lies, they can be stopped by truth." ~ Julian Assange #SurviveAndRevolt