Even Fox News anchors are wondering what the hell West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is thinking.
Senator Manchin (D-WV) has always been among the most conservative members of the Democratic Senate caucus, and it has been his opposition to both the elimination of the filibuster and to the latest voting rights legislation that has prevented Democrats from being able to quickly push through some of the major items on President Biden’s agenda to reverse the worst excesses of the Trump era.
In an appearance on Fox News Sunday this morning, however, Manchin’s insistence that Republicans will somehow abandon the doctrine of total obstructionism that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already sworn to continue to wage against every proposal that the Biden administration puts forward faced unusually forceful skepticism from host Chris Wallace.
“You said you oppose scrapping the filibuster,” Wallace noted. “The question I have is whether or not—and you say that you hope that will bring the parties together—the question I have is whether or not you’re doing it exactly the wrong way?”
“Hear me out on this,” the Fox News Sunday anchor said. “If you were to keep the idea that maybe you would vote to kill the filibuster, wouldn’t that give Republicans an incentive to actually negotiate because old Joe Manchin is out there and who knows what he’s going to do? By taking it off the table, haven’t you empowered Republicans to be obstructionists?”
While it may seem unusual for a journalist to be giving strategic advice to a sitting senator, Wallace seemed incredulous at the existing manner with which the West Virginia Senator was pursuing his fool’s errand.
In his response, Senator Manchin demonstrated his faith in the reasonableness of at least a few GOP senators who have been willing to buck the slavish devotion to Donald Trump that most Republican legislators seem unable to shed, citing the “seven brave Republicans that continue to vote for what they know is right and the facts as they see them, not worrying about the political consequences.”
“I’m just very hopeful and I see good signs,” Manchin added. “Give us some time.”
Manchin’s optimism was tempered by Wallace’s reminder that the GOP had just utilized the filibuster to prevent the passage of a bill authorizing an independent commission to investigate the violent insurrection that led to the invasion of his own workplace.
“Republicans blocked that,” Wallace stated. “Sen. McConnell, the head of the Republicans in the Senate, says that he’s 100 percent focused on blocking the Biden agenda. Question: Aren’t you being naive about this continuing talk about bipartisan cooperation?”
It’s not often that a journalist gets to call a senator naive to his face, but Manchin refused to accept the categorization and vowed to continue to pursue the type of bipartisan cooperation that most people nowadays consider as mythical as a unicorn.
“I think [McConnell’s] 100 percent wrong in trying to block all the good things that we’re trying to do for America,” the moderate senator replied. “It would be a lot better if we had participation and we’re getting participation.”
“I’m going to continue to keep working with my bipartisan friends,” he continued. “There were 33 Democrats in 2017 that signed a letter to please save the filibuster and save our democracy. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
You can watch the extraordinary exchange between Chris Wallace and Senator Joe Manchin in the video excerpt below:
Original reporting by Justin Baragona at The Daily Beast.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.