Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat whose sole purpose in life seems to be making money off of lobbyists and being an asshole, sure lived up to his reputation last night. While President Joe Biden was delivering his State of the Union address at a time when he’s leading the free world in standing against Russia’s violent dictator Vladimir Putin, Manchin couldn’t be bothered to demonstrate his support for his president.
He sat with Republicans for the entirety of the speech.
His spokesman told Axios: “Sen. Manchin sat with his colleague Sen. Romney to remind the American people and the world that bipartisanship works and is alive and well in the U.S. Senate.” Here’s that “bipartisanship” on display from Manchin’s Republican buddies.
By the way, President Biden used the word “bipartisan” five times, “unity” four times, and “Republicans” three times, as in, “Tonight, we meet as Democrats, Republicans, and independents. But most importantly as Americans,” and, “I ask Democrats and Republicans alike: Pass my budget and keep our neighborhoods safe,” and, “It is important for us to show the nation that we can come together and do big things.”
Manchin doesn’t want to do the big things his fellow Democrats do, if he still considers himself one of them. He refused to stand with all the other Democrats when Biden spoke about his plans for the care economy and education, or for “the Paycheck Fairness Act and paid leave,” and, “Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and extend the child tax credit so no one has to raise a family in poverty,” and, “When we invest in our workers, when we build the economy from the bottom up and the middle out together, we can do something we haven’t done in a long time: Build a better America.”
Here’s how he responded to reporters about that.
Manchin went on to tell reporters: “I’ve never found out that you can lower costs by spending more,” which got Republican Sen. Mitt Romney’s approval. “You can’t say it better than that,” Romney exclaimed. That was in response to Biden’s appeal to Manchin’s supposed reason for opposing his plan: “One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poorer. I have a better plan to fight inflation. Lower your costs, not your wages,” he said.
Manchin clearly doesn’t want to help save Americans from poverty. Period. Manchin is going to keep using his “inflation” excuse to hurt Americans. “It just keeps adding up and up,” he said. “To me, it’s all about inflation. Inflation is the No. 1 enemy we have in America today,” he added.
Some might consider the assault on democracy at home and abroad the No. 1 enemy to America. Others can rightfully point to the new UN climate report, which shows a dramatically narrowing window for the world to act on climate change.
But for Manchin, the No. 1 threat is the Democrats’ desire to make life just a little bit less precarious for millions of Americans.
When the world needs to see a united American government, a Congress that is standing with the president to face down Putin, Manchin decided to make the symbolic gesture of allying with the disloyal opposition.