If you listen to Manchin in that interview from last fall, he would have you believe he’s still outraged. “[Garland] didn’t even get a hearing,” Manchin exclaims. “He didn’t even get a meeting. […] They didn’t have the courtesy—and I said it was the saddest day of my life, being a U.S. Senator seeing my colleagues didn’t have just the decency to sit down and talk to a person.”
Here’s Manchin after Republicans blocked the Jan. 6 commission: “Choosing to put politics and political elections above the health of our Democracy is unconscionable. And the betrayal of the oath we each take is something they will have to live with. […] I am sorry that my Republican colleagues and friends let political fear prevent them from doing what they know in their hearts to be right.”
Did he learn from that? He did not. Here he is telling CNN’s Manu Raju that they can bring the bill back and maybe this time it will pass.
“It was wrong, what [McConnell] did. I’ve said that. He knows how I feel about that,” Manchin said. As if McConnell gives a goddamn about what Manchin feels. As if McConnell isn’t operating with the full knowledge that Manchin is the key to his power to continue subverting democracy.
The bill “was totally everything [Republicans] asked for,” Manchin says. “It was totally bipartisan. I think Nancy Pelosi was very gracious in what she had offered, basically making it totally bipartisan. Chuck Schumer said ‘okay, I’ll do the same.’ They were able to come to this agreement. […] everything was done in the most bipartisan way.” All that, and McConnell is “just one person” who blocked it but that bipartisan unicorn of 10 Republican votes will be there next time, for sure. Because . . . reasons.
In that interview, Manchin was at least unwilling to say that he would “never” agree to filibuster reform, so he’s a slight step ahead of Kyrsten Sinema, and sounds slightly less clueless.
But, damn. How many times are McConnell and his Republicans going to have to show Manchin who they really are before it finally sinks. When will the realization strike that the only influence he has with Republicans is to give them the power to keep obstructing?
He seems to be enjoying his time in the limelight as the most powerful man in the Senate, the interview everyone wants to get. But at some point even Manchin is going to have to realize that what he’s really doing is ceding that power to Mitch McConnell.