Manchin and Sinema: Cassandras of the Senate

5 November 2021

2:25 PM

5 November 2021

2:25 PM

Tuesday was a very bad night for the Democratic Party. They lost the Virginia governorship and House of Delegates, almost lost the New Jersey governorship, and lost several local school board seats in crucial electoral states such as Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Colorado.

Blue states that kept schools closed or mostly shuttered for the duration of the pandemic now play host to legions of angry, fed-up parents. Nationally, Joe Biden’s approval ratings are crashing harder than Hunter Biden after a stint at the Chateau Marmont, and his domestic agenda is stalled in Congress, thanks to two Democratic senators who clearly saw the writing on the wall and the red wave coming: Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

“I’ve been saying this for many, many months, people have concerns, people are concerned,” Manchin told reporters on Wednesday. “You can read so much into all of that last night. I think it should be a call to all of us have to be more attentive to the people back home.”

After Biden surveyed the wreckage in Virginia, he urged his party to hit the gas pedal on passing the infrastructure and Build Back Better bills, suggesting that perhaps the failure to pass the acts affected the outcome of the Virginia governor’s race. This is a typical trick, one he learned from his old boss: if people don’t like the agenda, it must be because there isn’t enough of it.

But Manchin and Sinema are in the right here. They have navigated the negotiations patiently and deftly, perhaps aware of what happened to their party the last time an enormous unpopular package was rammed through Congress by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Obamacare was passed in 2010, but four years later the Democrats were still paying the price for its unpopularity. The 2014 midterm swing was the largest transfer of congressional power since World War Two. 2022 looks to not only be a repeat, but worse, even at local levels where the core of the Democratic Party power structure is in danger: teachers’ unions.

The media is haranguing Manchin and Sinema. Activists and members of their own party are hounding and alienating them. But the two senators who have urged restraint on Biden’s massive spending agenda not only find themselves looking like prophets for issuing electoral warnings but could very well find themselves as two of the safest members of the party. And they know it.

Sinema, and more to the point Manchin see what lies ahead of a rudderless president who can’t get out of his own way and is beholden to the far left and journalists on Twitter. They are both playing the long game for their own political futures. Their party is failing to take notice.

Early Thursday, Manchin angered the Twitterati when he said in a CNN interview with CNN that “this is not a center-left or a left country. We are a center — if anything — center-right country.” He will again take arrows for issuing a mostly true statement that the far-left flank of his party doesn’t want to believe — they can’t see the reality he describes on Instagram or at the Met Gala, so it must not be real. Manchin also claimed that he “believes in President Biden.” Whether the president is worthy of the senator’s belief is entirely dependent on how Biden and his White House handlers learn from Tuesday’s drubbing.

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