This has gone for far too long. West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is that rarest of all unicorns, a Blue Dog Democrat. A Democrat that manages to get elected, and then repeatedly reelected in a solidly blue state. And in the traditionally close margin US Senate, he has leveraged that to make himself a king maker.

But is Manchin really such a special snowflake? Let’s remember that the current West Virginia Governor was elected as a Democrat, and only made the political calculation to switch parties after Trump was elected. And while West Virginia is a solidly red state, the state also suffers from one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country. The people of West Virginia feel alienated and left behind by their politicians. It doesn’t take much of a surge to turn an election.

This is going to get me some grief in the comments, but I’m going to say it anyway. One of the reasons that Manchin has managed to turn himself into such a power player in the Democratic caucus is due to weak leadership. Let me ask you a question. If Joe Manchin were a Republican, can you imagine Manchin in a scenario in which the dictatorial Mitch McConnell would put up with the kind of childish bullshit that Manchin keeps pulling with the Democrats? McConnell would squash him like a bug.

But Manchin has a central weakness. He’s a Democrat. Reporting shows that Manchin makes a cool half million a year in his personal investment portfolio from fossil fuel industry. Not bad for a guy who is from a state that is dying on the vine from the death of the coal industry. Manchin has depended on fossil fuel industry donations to keep getting reelected. And this is the guy that the Democrats  put in the chair of the Energy committee. And therein lies the problem.

Manchin is special to the fossil fuel industry because he’s a Democrat. If you’re a fossil fuel lobbyist, you couldn’t walk into the well of the Senate, swing a cat around by the tail, and not bang it into a Republican Senator covered in fossil fuel industry pocket lint. But try finding a Democrat willing to do a Neil-and-Bob for the coal or big oil industry. Manchin is in position to sway critical votes in the Energy committee. Which makes him liquid gold.

It’s time for Senate Majority Leader Schumer to drop the hammer. He needs to sit Judas Joe down, and tell him it’s time to get on board with the program. Reform the filibuster, negotiate in good faith, and get President Biden’s agenda passed. If not, his committee assignments are gone. Including the chairmanship of the Energy committee. It’s time to be a loyal soldier and take one for the team.

What’s the worst that could happen? Manchin revolts, flips sides, and becomes a Republican. Big deal. The Democrats don’t have a majority right now with Manchin running around licking his nuts. But if Manchin becomes a Republican, he becomes just another drone in McConnell’s majority, and of no more interest to the fossil fuel industry, since he isn’t the chair of the Energy committee anymore.

That is Joe Manchin’s Achille’s heel. He needs to be the chair of the Energy committee to keep the fossil fuel lobbyists knocking down his door. And whatever committee assignments the GOP may give him, they won’t even come close to making up what he lost. Manchin is in this for himself. He’ll see the light.

Follow me on Twitter at @RealMurfster35

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  1. Schumer should have stepped on Manchin a couple of years ago, when it became obvious to most of us that Manchin is never going to be a reliable D vote. He doesn’t even produce for WV; they’re in favor of Biden’s plan.

  2. Murfster, You are forgetting something very important. If Manchin switches sides, the tally becomes 51 R to 49 D, Mitch McConnell becomes the Majority leader of the Senate, and we can kiss goodbye the hope of getting ANYTHING passed, even under budget resolution procedures.

  3. It’s been seven plus years now since I decamped from WV and I’m seldom in contact anymore with people I knew up there. However, from what I can tell bad as it was in the ten plus years I lived in the eastern panhandle the state has gotten worse. Much worse. Gov. Justice only ran as a Democrat because he couldn’t get the GOP nomination. But he’s an insanely rich dude (owns the Greenbriar even) and a weathervane when it comes to political affiliation. Whatever will allow him to keep as much of his fortune as he can is who he will join forces with. As for Manchin, he barely squeaked by last time and even with a hard core Trumpie approved candidate running against him next time he’s probably going down. I think at this point he’s leveraging his role on the Energy Committee to pad his PAC with lobbyist donations for his retirement. It’s insane how easy it is for politicians to convert PAC/Super PAC money to be untraceable sums that can be transferred into accounts for said politicians when they retire.

    McConnell is probably promising him the moon and the sun to switch Parties, but can’t get him to do so without keeping him in that Committee Chair spot. Something McConnell apparently can’t (yet) swing so Manchin is sticking with us. He also knows that if he makes the switch he will have about as much stature/credibility/trust with Republican Senators as Benedict Arnold did with the British after he turned traitor on the American Revolution. He wasn’t wanted over there any more than he was here. It might be worth someone (not Schumer – I agree we could do way better for Majority Leader) reminding Manchin of that.

  4. Yeah, what the hell. He’s sucking republicans ass now. It’s time to get off his knees, wipe his face off and join his party. The new Biden agenda is the beginning of an industry that’s going to smoke fossil fuel. It’s his chance to get in on the bottom floor and stake his claim. Fossil fuel is dying. Give it a rest.

  5. If Biden were an effective leader, he’d send his veep to Dino Joe’s back yard and start a public relations tour. Make old Joe’s life a living hell. I mean, what’s the point of having an attack dog if you don’t let her off her leash. They could show old Joe a come to Jesus moment and make him just another hayseed with a bad haircut.


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