As the Trump administration is about to begin, West Virginia Democratic senator Joe Manchin continues to give the appearance that he's really a Republican. For example, while he has supported not eliminating Obamacare, that's because a replacement is not in place. He's also been willing to work with Republicans on that replacement. On Trump appointments, he hasn't quite become a cheerleader but he has clearly demonstrated support. For instance, he may end up being the only Democrat to vote for Jeff Sessions ("he's my friend") even as Politico reports that
Red-state Democrats turn against Sessions for AG
On Supreme Court nominees, as CNN noted yesterday, he also may vote with the Republicans:
After he exited his meeting with Pence, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin refused to say if he would join a unified front of Democrats against any Trump nominee.
"I've pretty much been a West Virginia Democrat," Manchin said.
(Yeah, Joe, just like Rockefeller and Byrd, who must be spinning in his grave at what his replacement has been doing.)
And on Sunday's "Face the Nation," he had no problem criticizing John Lewis for not attending Trump's inauguration:
“I’ve got the utmost respect for Congressman Lewis, he’s an icon if you will and we all have the most respect for him,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I just think that was uncalled for. Maybe -- I just wish that rhetoric would tone down from both back and forth.”
Manchin added that the rhetoric from both Lewis and Trump -- who lambasted Lewis on Twitter -- is “non-productive,” and would play into Russia’s desire to undermine American political institutions.
It will be interesting to see how long Senator Joe can play this strategy -- it may be risky as Ed Kilgore recently explained in New York magazine:
What Manchin must avoid is the fate of Joe Lieberman, who during the George W. Bush administration found himself (in an apt description by Jeffrey Toobin) “serving simultaneously as a punching bag and a cheerleader for the Bush White House.” So he may soon have to pick sides and live with the consequences.