“Why don’t you go, Joe Manchinio, our nation turns its tearful eyes to you.“*
(*With apologies to my AEPi fraternity brother, Paul Simon. I think he’d approve.)
The New York Times reported yesterday, “Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, pulled the plug Thursday on negotiations to salvage key pieces of President Biden’s agenda, informing his party’s leaders that he would not support funding for climate or energy programs…”
This, despite, as the Times reported, “In recent months, Democrats had slashed their ambitions for such a plan to win over Mr. Manchin, hoping that he would agree to support even a fraction of the sweeping initiative they once envisioned. His abrupt shift appeared to dash those aspirations.”
Democratic colleagues, believing, naively, that Manchin was negotiating in good faith, were reportedly “shell-shocked,” particularly Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who, the Times reported, “conceded to every request and more. Up until Thursday evening, the majority leader thought a deal was possible, according to climate activists who spoke with Mr. Schumer later that night. The White House also made concessions to Mr. Manchin.”
Apparently, neither Mr. Schumer nor White House staffers ever took the time to read the Around the Block fable posted last year called, The land where almost no one visited and its favorite son, Joe, Duke of Manchin – The story of one ambitious man’s rise to power, influence and breathtaking lack of irony. Because, if they did, they wouldn’t have been so blind-sided.
Comments from other Democrats as well as climate activists suggest they too did not take the time to read, or to learn about Joe Manchin’s ambition and duplicity, which I clearly, if facetiously, articulated last year in Around the Block. Nor did they seem to recall that Manchin once ran a campaign advertisement in which he shot a bullet hole through President Obama’s climate plan.
- “Rage keeps me from tears,” said Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts.
- “I’m not going to sugarcoat my disappointment here, especially since nearly all issues in the climate and energy space had been resolved,” said Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “This is our last chance to prevent the most catastrophic — and costly — effects of climate change. We can’t come back in another decade and forestall hundreds of billions — if not trillions — in economic damage and undo the inevitable human toll.”
- Mr. Manchin, said Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, “has shown that he doesn’t know how to close a deal — or he doesn’t want to close a deal — and that you can’t trust him.”
- “It’s been a really, really terrible day,” Senator Tina Smith, Democrat of Minnesota and a key champion of the climate provisions, said in an interview. “If Senator Manchin wants a deal on climate and energy, he can have one in a heartbeat. This is Senator Manchin’s deal for the taking, and if it doesn’t happen, it is on him.”
- “He has pretended to be a fair arbiter,” Jamal Raad, executive director of the climate advocacy group Evergreen Action, said of Mr. Manchin. “He talked about his grandchildren. It turns out that’s all bullshit. He cares about profits for his coal company and his own political future over the future of our planet.”
- Tiernan Sittenfeld, the senior vice president for government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters, a nonprofit group, said Mr. Manchin had condemned future generations. There truly aren’t words, at least words that are suitable for printing in The New York Times, for how appalled and outraged we are,” she said.
And Manchin himself?
In an interview with West Virginia radio talk-show host Hoppy Kercheval*, Manchin disingenuously declared, “I am where I have been — I would not put my staff through this, I would not put myself through this if I wasn’t sincere about trying to find a pathway forward to do something that’s good for our country.”
(*Around the Block loves making up names in the spirt of satire, but I promise I did not make up “Hoppy Kercheval.” I wonder if William (aka Hopalong “Hoppy” Cassidy) Boyd is turning over in his grave?)
In an official statement. Manchin’s spokeswoman, Sam Runyon, declined to discuss his position but did say that Manchin, “has not walked away from the table.”
To which I say, “Why would anyone who believes in saving the planet want to sit at any table with him?”
Please look out for the next Around the Block in which I’ll provide my thoughts on how to make Senator Joe Manchin, otherwise known in the world of Around the Block as the “Duke of Manchin,” irrelevant.
I’m hoping that, unlike that “Duke of Manchin” fable, someone from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), ActBlue and others, will read my next column, take heed, and take action!