Joe Manchin Was Right About Pretty Much Everything
Plus: Tim’s updated Senate predictions for the fall.
Hey y’all it’s Tim in for JVL. He’ll be back in the big chair mañana.
1. Where Does Joe Manchin Go To Get His Apology?
Back in September, I wrote a cheekily serious column for our humble website titled “An Ode To Saint Joe Manchin.” The progs loved it.
Upon rereading the piece this past weekend, I’ve come to the conclusion that, if anything, I was understated in my praise for the senator from Almost Heaven. Joe Manchin is not just one man who might merit canonization, but a pol without peer for the title of Most Important Elected Official in America today.
In case you suspect this is a bit of hyperbole, let’s review the dramatic impact on our polity of the Democrats holding a Senate seat in a state where Joe Biden got 29.69 percent of the vote:
Ketanji Brown Jackson might not be a Supreme Court justice if it weren’t for Joe Manchin, as there’s no reason to be certain Mitch McConnell would have even held hearings on her confirmation had he been majority leader. Joe Biden wouldn’t have nominated and confirmed more judges in a single Congress than any president since JFK if it weren’t for Joe Manchin. Ron Johnson would be subpoenaing Hunter Biden’s baby mama for wheels-off congressional hearings premised on material sourced via Lin Wood’s Telegram account if it weren’t for Joe Manchin.
The child tax credit would never have passed if it weren’t for Joe Manchin. There would be no hope for codifying the DOMA repeal without Joe Manchin. And we sure as shit wouldn’t have a deal on the strong-to-quite-strong Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 . . . if it weren’t for Joseph A. Manchin III.
He made all this happen while the media, progressive activists, and even fellow members of his party helpfully accused him of being a corrupt coal baron and crypto Republican who just loved hearing the sound of his own voice echo off the walls of his houseboat.
And the magic of Manchin is that these folks ***continued to do it this weekend*** even after he came through in the clutch with climate legislation they all claim to have wanted!!
And frankly that slander probably helps Manchin in the long run, so, whatever.
But here’s the deal, Jack. The tweeters have been wrong and Joe Manchin has been right from the jump.
He was right on the policy. Right on the politics. And right for his state.
First the policy:
Back when the experts and leading Democrats were still clinging to the notion that inflation was “transitory,” Manchin recognized that it was a growing problem and threw up the red flag over passing a multi-trillion-dollar government spending grab bag:
And well . . . is there anyone out there today who thinks the White House had that debate right?
Otherwise the merits of the bill are not that far from what you might have imagined a McCain-style Republican would’ve wheeled and dealed with Democrats on in times gone by.
Climate investment + prescription drug pricing + deficit reduction paid for by creating a corporate minimum tax? Everything minus that tax side was something John McCain fought for at one point or another, and that was before the corporate rate went down from 35 to 21 percent, below his proposed 25 percent.
As for the politics:
Joe Manchin absolutely sonned Mitch McConnell in the most graphic way imaginable. He put the guy on the most lewd, balls-to-face poster in recent political history.
Cocaine Mitch thought he had Schumer and Manchin in a box when he was holding the CHIPS bill hostage. And then as soon as he lets his guard down, WHAM, was that Joe Manchin with the folding chair?!
As it stands now, the Democrats have banked the bipartisan CHIPS bill that they’ll argue will boost American manufacturing and competitiveness with China. And, depending on what happens with the inscrutable Kyrsten Sinema, they are likely to get an inflation-reduction bill that includes serious climate investment for the base, a tax hike on the bankers for the populists, and deficit reduction for the RVATs.
The pwnage was so comprehensive that the Republicans threw a self-own tantrum that caused them to look like evil babies in front of the whole world as they blocked a bill to help veterans suffering from burn-pit exposure that they had already voted for. For good measure they are threatening to let gay marriage die on the vine as part of the tantrum, which would be another political gift to the Democrats, if a discouraging development for the gays.
Taken all together, this has been some spank-bank level politicking from Manchin. Put some respect on the man’s name.
2. Senate Map for Dummies
As promised, I’m going to pop on to the Triad from time to time for midterm horse-race analysis to ensure everyone gets their fix.
My last effort, in April, was rather bullish on the Republicans’ odds to take the Senate, setting the spread at +2.5 GOP seats and -300 to take the majority. (If that’s Greek to you, visit Sports Odds for Dummies.)
In the intervening time the Democrats’ prospects have improved slightly. As things stand today I’d move the spread down to GOP +1.5 Senate seats and -200 to take the majority.
A few things have happened to impact the state of play.
Pennsylvania: Dr. Oz has run possibly the worst Senate campaign that I’ve seen in a decade. He still has some time to rectify things, but the summer months have been U-G-L-Y. Somehow he has allowed his stroke-riddled opponent to define him as a carpetbagging phony both on the air and in the media from a hospital bed while Oz apparently traipsed across Europe. During that time the polls have been rotten for the quack, er, candidate. As a result, the race has gone from a coin flip to a quite strong pickup opportunity for the Democrats.
Georgia: To demonstrate just how bad the Oz campaign has been, Herschel Walker has been forced to reveal several secret children that he lied to his own staff about since we last provided a race update and yet he is still not running the worst race of the cycle. But what looked in April to be a prime pickup opportunity for the GOP has turned into a race where the Democrat, Raphael Warnock, is a slight favorite. National GOP strategists have been summoned to Georgia to steady the ship. (Worked out great last time.)
Colorado: The best news for Republicans is in Colorado, where the party bucked its national trend to nominate a sane person for the Senate, Joe O’Dea, rather than a QAnon insurrectionist. My home state has gotten quite blue over the years but there are always surprises in a wave year and the Colorado Senate race is giving me some heavy Virginia Gov vibes, with Michael Bennet—a totally palatable if not very exciting Democrat—at risk of getting caught up in a bad environment.
Updated Map: (Remember: Democrats need to net 0 seats to retain control of the Senate)
Potential Democratic Pickups:
Tier A: Pennsylvania
Tier B: Wisconsin (down from tier A)
Tier C: Missouri (up from tier G), Ohio, North Carolina
Tier G(OP Faceplant): Florida (down from tier C)
Potential Republican Pickups:
Tier A: Nevada, Arizona
Tier B: Georgia (down from tier A)
Tier C Colorado (up from tier G)
Tier G(OP Tsunami): Washington (new on the board), New Hampshire
3. Any Given Tuesday
Lis Smith my friend, former foil, perpetually late podcast guest, and Bill Maher better-half, is now a fellow “gritty” “pseduo-sociological” memoirist.
Her new book, Any Given Tuesday, which I tore through this weekend, is a political romp that features several trips to the strip club, raw insider gems from campaigns of yore, the deets from a few romantic misses, and a painful but ultimately fulfilling journey of girl-power self-actualization in the dude dominated campaign world.
It’s a fun companion to my new book, Why We Did It, with a few eerily similar lines— including one that stopped me cold about our regret over not “ruminating” (her) or “reflecting” (me) on the moral compromises we were making as PR flacks.
Anyway: Go buy Any Given Tuesday (as long as you’ve already purchased Why We Did It!).
And in the spirit of the third item being a #longread here is a wonderful profile of Lis by Shawn McCreesh, one of my favorite political magazine profile writers, who spikes the football with this kicker:
Does she worry this book she’s written might torch future job prospects? “Sure, there are people who won’t hire me after reading it,” said Smith. “The decision I made was that, I don’t give a fuck. If you think I’m good at what I do, you’ll hire me. If this bothers you, then you weren’t worth my time anyway.”
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An approving tone in your article. Just seems to show Manchin, like pretty much every other politician in Washington, didn’t make his earlier stand on any actual principle s but just wanted to elevate his status and power by playing a game of timing the system. Is this what you are approving of? Manchin’s turnaround just shows he is willing to rob us a little slower than the rest of Washington, in order to advance his power.
Love it. Points out the value of reading everyone but trusting no one without vetifying.