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Manchin

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I’m starting to see this on facebook, and I’m guessing it’s already happening here, so I’ll put this here rather than repeatedly in comments here and elsewhere:

I have a feeling we’re about to read a whole lot of “let’s devote resources to a primary challenge to Manchin in retaliation for the Sessions vote”, and much of the response to that will be “Manchin’s the best we can do in WV, so a primary just hands the seat over the Republicans” as a response. I’m sympathetic to both the demand and the response to it, but I think they both fail to think this through properly. If primary challenges from the left are a hammer, it’s worth keeping in mind that not all problems the Democratic party faces are nails. More specifically, a necessary-but-not-sufficient condition for “Primary!” to be the solution to the problem is an affirmative answer to the question “is the composition of the relevant Democratic primary electorate such that we might reasonably hope they’d prefer a standard Democrat to a Democrat who’ll throw his support behind white supremacy?” It seems relatively obvious to me the answer here is almost certainly “no”–WV has lots of conservative, white voters who are registered as, and in some sense still identify as Democrats, even as they’re increasingly unlikely to ever vote to send them to Washington, but would still be happy to turn out to help Good ol’ Joe defeat the race traitor before they abandon him for a Trumpist months later (as they surely would have done to Sanders, whom they helped win the primary, had he won the nomination). How much worse a hypothetical anti-Sessions Democrat’s chances would be in the general than Manchin’s, and is that a price we’re willing to pay, would be worth debating in a world where such a figure had a chance in hell of taking Manchin down. I’m not seeing it.:

….since many of the comments are unfolding in the fashion I predicted, let’s try this again:

The conversation everyone wants to have is “Should we stick a knife in Manchin’s gut, even if it might hurt us in the long run?” The relevant question is “Should we loudly announce our intention to stick a knife in his gut and let the chips fall where they will, then proceed to poke his belly with a plastic spork from the cafeteria?”

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  • tsam

    Any thoughts on how he’d respond to street protests aimed at him?

    • busker type

      I’m of two minds:
      1) He would ignore it, and receive a modest boost of votes from people who wanted to stick it to those dirty hippies.

      2) it would make him look bad, and marginally hurt his chances of reelection, while moving him marginally to the left on a few issues.

    • Nixonlandia

      Remember that campaign ad where he shot the Cap and Trade bill with a hunting rifle? Like that.

    • AlexRobinson

      Stick a proverbial knife in him.

      Why he calls himself a Democrat I have no idea.

      Also, go after his daughter

      • Abbey Bartlet

        Why he calls himself a Democrat I have no idea.

        do you even caucus bro

        • busker type

          +1

          • Abbey Bartlet

            I would prefer +51, but ooookay.

      • djw

        Why he calls himself a Democrat I have no idea.

        Yes, you do: because the voters of West Virginia get to decide what “D-WV” means, and they don’t share a good deal of our values.

        • NoMoreAltCenter

          Whose values?

          • djw

            The values of people who think “support for a white supremacist for AG” is really bad, and in a better world would be a deal-breaker, which I presume includes everyone in this conversation.

            • UnderTheSun

              Or the people who support the return of a neo-con war criminal to the Department of State. Instead of wasting time going after Manchin, denying Sessions the AG role was always a loser, perhaps that time would be better spent going after Coons, Murphy, and Kaine to make sure that Elliot Abrams doesn’t make it back to State. It’d be a sad day for the Democrats if Rand Paul was the last line of defense.

              “Crack the door to admit Elliott Abrams and the neocons will scurry in by the hundreds,” Paul wrote in an op-ed Feb. 7 in Rare, a libertarian-leaning website based in Washington. “While President Trump has repeatedly stated his belief that the Iraq War was a mistake, the neocons (all of them Never-Trumpers) continue to maintain that the Iraq and Libyan wars were brilliant ideas. These are the same people who think we must blow up half the Middle East, then rebuild it and police it for decades.”

              Having kicked out the liberal interventionists like Rice and Powers, it would be a shame if their neo-con fellow travellers made it back to power

              • LFC

                This Abrams thing is depressing. (Not that whoever Trump does nominate for dep. sec. of state is going to be good.)

  • FWIW, I would like to live in a world where Manchin could be successfully primaried and then his challenger could go on to win the general election. I am not convinced that we live in such a world. Manchin certainly deserves condemnation for the Sessions vote, and while I’m sympathetic to the arguments that he should be drummed out of the party, I’m also not convinced that this would have any result other than getting another Republican elected to the Senate. Manchin has consistently outperformed other Democrats in WV, so I suspect he knows what his constituents want, and I’m not convinced another WV Democrat would be able to duplicate that. As much as I despise his vote for Sessions, it’s still better to have a Senator who votes with us some of the time than one who won’t vote with us at all.

    • tsam

      Well said. Sometimes I guess we’re stuck dealing with a mixed bag of sorts, and considering the political climate of West Virginia (ground zero in the coal anger), Manchin might be better than we should be expecting.

    • nemdam

      For any Democrat that can win a statewide race by 24 points in a deep red state, I will sit down, shut up, and watch them go to work.

      • AlexRobinson

        No.

        He isn’t a Democrat

        • Abbey Bartlet

          I’m pretty sure Majority Leader Schumer would disagree with that assessment.

        • libraryguy

          If he calls himself a D, votes our way mostly, can get elected in a red state – I’ll take him. Policing whether he should be a “real” Democrat in some sense is bad politics. We’re screwing America and millions of vulnerable people if we say only the purest can be Democrats.

          Is Tim Kaine a Dem? He is personally opposed to abortion, as is Gov. Bel Edwards, who pushed through Medicaid expansion in his state. Tester? Heidkamp? They voted against DeVos and Sessions. I want a majority in both houses, I want Dems in office in CA and Oklahoma and every other state. If that means a lot of them are conservative on some votes, I don’t care. The road to better Democrats begins with more Democrats at all levels.

    • ZakMcKrackenAndTheAlienMindbenders

      Let’s at least all agree he’s not Vice Presidential material in 2020.

      • Oh, certainly not. Neither is Andrew Cuomo. I’d still rather have Manchin as the senator from WV than any Republican, though.

        • ZakMcKrackenAndTheAlienMindbenders

          I was just making a throwaway Lieberman joke.

          • Ah, right. I should’ve noticed that, but in my defence I’m getting over an illness and probably not thinking entirely clearly.

    • El Tigre Sabroso

      Amen,sister. A symbolic protest vote that potentially alienates his constituency may be good national politics, but it is dumb as dirt on the local WV level. Manchin isn’t my cup of tea, but I am a guy that believes that the North actually lost the Civil War when we had to keep the Confederacy.

  • Lt. Fred

    There’s another part too, which is establishing a culture of party loyalty. You want to make an example of the bastard to make sure all the troops stay in line forevermore, both to force them into a united front during the Trumpening and afterwards when the Dems are next in government.

    Remember the dumb Nelson/Stupak nonsense over Obamacare? That should never happen again. Next time we’re in government, the Party should simply expect that any member will vote party line for party policy. No negotiation, no compromise, no concessions. Just do it or lose your job.

    • The Politicizer

      With respect, I don’t think you understand how this works.

      Here’s a homework assignment for you: identify 60 Senate seats that can plausibly be won by progressive Democrats.

      After you’ve done that, we can talk about a culture of “no negotiation, no compromise, no concessions.”

      • Barry_D

        “…identify 60 Senate seats…”

        BTW, that only holds if the GOP does not nuke the filibuster.

        • humanoid.panda

          And even if the GOP doesn’t, I’d bet a million dollars that the next post-Trump Democratic president+ senate mean that the filibuster gets blown up. Republicans don’t necessarily want to pass any piece of legislation that the House throws at them, so they might keep it as self-defense measure. Democrats actually want to pass legislation.

    • nemdam

      This is the only credible argument for running Manchin out of the party. I disagree, but at least it’s a real argument instead “Grrrr!!!! Primary!!!!”

    • djw

      You want to make an example of the bastard

      Again, you’re assuming the can opener here. The weapon we’d need to “make an example” would the West Virginia primary electorate in 2018, and they are not that weapon.

      • busker type

        There are few things I am more sure of in life than that Manchin will win his primary in 2018 (and any future wv dem primaries he may choose to compete in) with or without support or opposition from the national party.

      • politicalfootball

        Then there’s no need to fret about it, is there? There’s an implied corrollary to Stein’s law: If something can’t happen, it won’t.

        This isn’t like voting for Nader. If it’s not possible to have a different nominee, then it’s all good. In the “worst case” scenario — where a Manchin opponent gets a bunch of votes — you get a scared and chastened Manchin. And a bunch of other Democrats who are afraid to defect.

        And if Manchin is going to lose anyway, then there’s absolutely no possible gain from supporting him.

        The only negative scenario is that Manchin is somehow wounded by a primary challenge in a way that causes him to lose the general election. That seems like a fairly remote scenario, and one that must be risked. The Democratic brand must rely on a rejection of open, aggressive white supremacy.

        Okay, I’ll admit it. Drawing the line at open racism is really just an attempt by me to split the difference and be “reasonable.” Deep down, as you have probably guessed, I’d really prefer that as many primary voters as possible require Democrats to reject subtle, institutional white supremacy, too. Don’t bother trying to impugn my motives. I admit it!

        • djw

          The only negative scenario is that Manchin is somehow wounded by a primary challenge in a way that causes him to lose the general election. That seems like a fairly remote scenario, and one that must be risked. The Democratic brand must rely on a rejection of open, aggressive white supremacy.

          Again, “I think wounding him is worth it” presumes a capacity to wound that clearly doesn’t exist. The first rule of competent political strategizing is to stop saying that things that can’t or won’t happen “must” happen. That’s not how this works. We need strategies for the world we actually live in.

    • vic rattlehead

      If we had 65 senators in 2009-10 we could’ve told a few Dems like Lieberman to pound sand, and that would’ve been nice. But with 48? Jesus, we can’t afford to lose a single one.

      • libraryguy

        +1000

  • McAllen

    But even if a primary doesn’t succeed, might it not scare Manchin enough to make him somewhat more willing to oppose Trump in the future?

    • djw

      Not at all. If Manchin actually hangs on in 2018 it will almost certainly be by the skin of his teeth. Meanwhile, “conventional anti-Sessions Democrat” would have to be very lucky and very good to lose by less than 35 points.

      • I’m not entirely convinced that Manchin will be a long shot in 2018. He’s consistently outperformed other Democrats in the state, and it’s quite likely that the Republican Party will be extremely unpopular after two years of Tangerine Trujillo. That said, if he faces a serious primary challenger, that will severely dent his chances. Whether he has a serious chance at retaining his seat will also, of course, depend upon how intact the franchise is by that point.

        • nemdam

          If Manchin gets primaried by someone far to his left, I could actually see it helping him. To win, he needs to win Trump voters. And what better way to do that than some good ole fashion hippie punching?

          • You may have a point here. This would also enable him to position himself as the sensible middle ground between an out-of-control GOP and the DFHs on the left of the Democratic Party. After 2016, I’m not prepared to handicap the outcome of any political election, but I could see this happening.

            • Donna Gratehouse

              I thought that’s what Sanders would do for Clinton. That turned out to be wrong.

              • True. Then again, if Sanders hadn’t spent several months talking about how the process was rigged against him, the outcome might have been somewhat different.

          • djw

            I agree with this. Or more specifically, I think it’s possible. What I’m more confident about is this: a primary from the left might be irrelevant to his general election chances, or hurt or help a little (more likely to help than hurt), but it’s not going to be a significant factor for him either way.

        • vic rattlehead

          I am mildly familiar with WV politics thanks to a good friend from there who spent a lot of time ranting about state politics (short version-sucks to be a leftist there). If you threatened to primary Manchin, he would laugh his ass off right in your face. There are maybe one or two WV Democrats who have been elected statewide who could credibly challenge him and they would probably only beat him if Manchin were caught in a Larry Craig type situation.

          So you’re not gonna primary him. The only person who can really punish him is Schumer-I am not familiar with the intricacies of the Senate but perhaps he could bounce him out of committees. If you’re elected as a Democrat/Republican, does that party *have to* allow you to caucus with them? I don’t know. But even if Schumer could bounce him out he needs his vote.

          • humanoid.panda

            Schumer put him in a leadership position, in an obvious bid to stop him from taking a job with Trump administration. He is not going to punish him in any way or shape.

      • jeer9

        Meanwhile, “conventional anti-Sessions Democrat” would have to be very lucky and very good to lose by less than 35 points.

        Even if the Republican nominee turns out be Todd Akin-like? I seem to remember you advocating the same sort of conservatism about primarying McCaskill and she won by 18 points. A more liberal candidate, had they been able to defeat her, might have won by … 3 or 4 – or would have lost?

        It’s interesting how the Dems always come down on the side of cautiousness and electability, and thus they never get “lucky” with an “extreme” (more reliably lefty) candidate.
        Especially after two years of the clusterfuck that will be Trump, I would think the odds (and scandals and anger) might be moving in our direction. And the likelihood of the Right in WV choosing a nutcase in its own primary seems fairly high.

        Better not to try, though, better to keep our powder dry, and hope Joe sneaks in again.

        • Relying on the Republicans to nominate an “unelectable” candidate does not strike me as a particularly shrewd strategy after the outcome of the 2016 election, in which their presidential nominee was supposed to be unelectable. To be fair, the election was, in several important ways, stolen, but betting against an attempt to steal 2018 does also not strike me as a winning strategy.

        • Ahenobarbus

          If another Dem wants to throw their hat in the ring in the primary, I wouldn’t strong arm them to stop it. But I think what people are talking about is a big challenge, lots of money spent, etc.

        • The Politicizer

          My response to this would be … have at it.

          But I would echo what NewishLawyer said downthread – find the candidate. I suspect two things:

          1) The dynamic, popular, electable progressive that (I think we all agree) it would take to beat Manchin is going to be easier to imagine than actually find in WV, and

          2) Even if that candidate exists, it’s gonna be hella tough to convince them to take on Manchin, because not only is that the kind of decision that ends careers if it doesn’t end up working, but it’ll probably also be more sensible for that candidate to run against Capito in 2020 in the first place.

          It’s not terribly useful to argue about hypotheticals, and in this case the whole discussion is moot without an actual candidate.

        • xq

          It’s interesting how the Dems always come down on the side of cautiousness and electability, and thus they never get “lucky” with an “extreme” (more reliably lefty) candidate.

          There are lots of states with Republican senators where you could experiment relatively safely with running reliably lefty candidates. Why would you want to do so in the one place it could actually cost us a seat?

    • The Politicizer

      It might – if the Dem primary electorate is progressive enough to represent a plausible threat.

      What do you think?

      • Abbey Bartlet

        242,539 people voted in the Democratic *presidential* primary in West Virginia in 2016. 713,051 people voted in the general election in West Virginia in 2016. I’m not seeing the Senate Democratic primary electorate being a threat to anyone, except the Democrats.

        • humanoid.panda

          40% of the Democratic primary voters in WV voted for a convicted prisoner over Obama in 2012. Let’s just say this was not over liberal outrage over Obama’s failure to seize the means of production.

  • djw

    Not really, but I welcome them.

    An important distinction is that, even if ineffective on the target, protests are (often) generative of future political energies and efforts, whereas (serious) primary challenges face some version of the classic “scarce resources” problem.

    ETA: meant to be reply to tsam’s first comment

    • tsam

      I found ya. That’s my thought too, no telling if it will help with Manchin, but they rarely hurt anything.

      • ZakMcKrackenAndTheAlienMindbenders

        They sometimes hurt Jonathan Chait’s feelings.

  • Davis X. Machina

    It’s Justice. It’s different.

    This is Joe Manchin saying to an absolutely pivotal segment of the party that protecting their right to vote is negotiable, and when local police kill their sons, it’s ok there’s no one interested in at least investigating it.

    • Judas Peckerwood

      Yes, this.

    • djw

      Well, sure. Perhaps it would be righteous to chiv him even if it hurt us too. But we don’t have a chiv.

      • Hercules Mulligan

        I certainly don’t expect the party to throw massive resources at a primary challenger or anything. But why not give it a shot? If someone does run against him, I’ll probably give em a few bucks.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Is a “chiv” a small knife wielded by a loutish British youth?

    • fledermaus

      I guess it is OK to abandon identity politics such as voting rights and racial justice as long as you are a center right democrat pol.

      • NoMoreAltCenter

        First and most important rule: Never criticize a Dem in a way that has actual, real world consequences. Always step in line when the time comes.

        • Abbey Bartlet

          Never criticize a Dem in a way that has actual, real world consequences.

          If those consequences involve a neoconfederate running DOJ? Yes, you fuckwit, that’s exactly the rule. What the hell other rule would there be?

          I guess I can be glad you’ve finally admitted that you don’t care about the consequences, just your feelings.

        • djw

          To state what should be blindingly obvious: I’m not saying don’t criticize Manchin. Knock yourself out! He deserves it. But don’t delude yourself into thinking that said criticisms would have “actual, real world consequences” for him. “We” (for a fairly broad “we”–Democrats not in West Virginia, basically) have no power to deliver such consequences, with our words or our actblue fundraising for his hapless challenger.

          • JR in WV

            I worked hard to elect a Democratic candidate, Natalie Tennant, into the Senate in the election Shelly Moore Capito won. And she (Moore Capito) won big. Against a state-wide elected woman who was 10 times the better person than Moore Capito was. Tennant was even elected to Mountaineer at WVU as a very young woman in her very first election, and still lost big to Moore Capito.

            Shelly Moore Capito is a walking piece of crap, the daughter of a felonious, pled guilty governor, who went to a federal prison for soliciting bribes to swing state business to the payer of the bribes. The daughter who went to Europe with Gov. Arch A Moore, all his kids and all the sons- and daughters-in-law, paid for out of a suitcase full of cash the Gov stole or took as bribes.

            All those kids knew Dad, the Governor, was a crooked politician, and took those trips and cars and enjoyed the power and money that flowed from that crookedness. And Shelly Moore Capito is in the Senate, and Natalie Tennant, a smart, pretty, honest, intelligent, kind woman couldn’t win re-election as Secretary of State against a crooked Republican who now runs elections in WV after losing to Moore Capito two years ago.

            And much as it embarrasses me to admit it, a large majority of West Virginians still think Big King Coal will rescue them from being poor and miserable. Hell, lots of them think heroin is a good way to pass the time until King Coal comes back to rescue them.

            So trying to fuck with Joe Manchin will either not work at all, or will result in another crooked Republican crook in the US Senate. I hate Manchin as a person because he is a despicable and contemptible mobster.

            But it would be stupid to run anyone against him. Better for those potential candidates to run against the carpetbagger republicans in the House of Representatives, where they might win and do the party and the nation some good. Now excuse me while I go puke.

    • Abbey Bartlet

      If his vote had confirmed Sessions, I would agree with you.

      As it is, Sessions was getting in anyway, and it doesn’t matter what Joe Manchin says or does if we have no fucking power.

      • efgoldman

        He’s going to make Gonzalez look like Bobby Kennedy.

        Just like DeVos was going to get in anyway, with Suzie Q and Murkowski recorded against.

    • UserGoogol

      Incidentally, the current Democratic Governor of West Virginia is named Jim Justice. I have absolutely no reason to think he’d be better than Manchin, and he only just took office, but well, trivia.

      • busker type

        Jim Justice is not the progressive dem you’re looking for, I can absolutely promise that.

        • vic rattlehead

          Man Chin. Justice. I’m sensing a trend here.

          Michael Ironside for Senate! I’m pretty sure he doesn’t live in West Virginia-he’s Canadian. But it’s the kind of manly, badass name West Virginians have apparently come to expect from their elected representatives.

          I have no idea what his politics are, but he is one angry looking dude. You’d be afraid to vote against him. He’d scare the living daylights out of Republicans. Forget Rule XIX or whatever, he could get Ted Cruz to sit down and shut up with a glare.

  • Baron Von McArgleBargle

    For the record, my head is not full of steam to immediately primary Manchin. I’m not foamy.

    At the same time, if Progressive We are ever going to have a chance in WVA, we have to show up and make our case. I am skeptical to embrace a strategy of “WVA is too far gone, let’s focus on areas where we can win”.

    I know that scarcity of resources is real, and that this is a tough row to hoe, but we need to start speaking directly to these people and a primary candidate is one way to do it.

    • busker type

      I support Manchin, but I would actually love to see a progressive primary challenger… they will lose, but it would be a great warm up for making a run at Capito or one of our sad-sack republican congressmen in 2020.

    • djw

      “Making the case for a progressive politics that isn’t reducible to white identity politics in West Virginia in 2018” may well be a worthwhile (if very long term) project, but it’s not going to have much over lap with the project of launching a primary challenge serious enough to actually get Manchin’s attention.

      • Darkrose

        This is a state where a dude who was in jail at the time primaried Obama in 2012 and got 41% of the vote because the racism goes deep there. Until we can get John Cole’s pets registered to vote, I feel like WV is a lost cause.

        • Can we split the difference and put Cole’s pets on the ballot?

          • Darkrose

            Works for me! I think Steve would raise the intelligence level of the Senate by quite a bit.

            • He’d definitely be a better senator than Tom Cotton (to name one particularly odious GOP asshat).

              • jnfr

                Rosie would be a better Senator than Cotton and I don’t think Rosie is particularly bright.

  • upstate_cyclist

    How often has the right cared to primary incumbents, particularly at the Senate level? While I doubt the success rate is high at all, there is forever that threat. How does that sort of pressure work? And how exactly is that not applicable on our side?

    • efgoldman

      While I doubt the success rate is high at all, there is forever that threat.

      The RWNJs got the crap scared out of them when the house majority leader, Cantor, lost to someone rightier, Brat.

      • humanoid.panda

        … In +20 Republican district..

    • NoMoreAltCenter

      It is not applicable to our side because it would be inconvenient to our elected officials.

      • djw

        Again, to re-state what should be entirely obvious to anyone with a passing knowledge of the West Virginia electorate: A threat to primary Manchin from the left is not even close to “inconvenient” for him.

  • jpgray

    How did Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle work out?

    It’s often easier to start the revolution in states that are competitive (making for a vulnerably bland centrist bench) or strong for the opposing ideology (making for a infuriatingly compromised, sacred cow stockyard of a bench), but just because it’s easier doesn’t make it smart. If you get your purer candidate in, but you lose, what was proved?

    A good place to start would be in a solid blue state where the next Martha Coakley type is just set to run by default, maybe? Even that has huge risks.

    • efgoldman

      How did Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle work out?

      Did they win primaries against incumbents? My memory says no, but I’m too lazy to look it up.

      • jpgray

        No but they shouldered aside more favorable candidates. Though it failed to replace in our case, I think the Lieberman/Cantor method is my favored one. Fight where what motivates your primary voters to revolt can at least plausibly motivate voters in the general.

      • ggrzw72

        While Mike Castle wasn’t literally an incumbent, he was a nine-term, at-large congressman (and former governor) running for a vacant Senate. So we’re talking same constituency, same profile, same anticipated voting record, and virtually identical job. That counts in my book.

  • anonymous

    WV is one of the Whitest and most racist states. Voting against Sessions because of his anti-Civil Rights record isn’t going to win Manchin any votes in WV but rather will lose him votes!. Voting for Sessions at least does no harm even if it might not be enough for him to keep his seat because it signals to his voters that he is sorta still “one of them”.

    Instead we should applaud Heitkamp and Tester who did vote against Sessions even though it was not in their interest to do so. Heitkamp and Tester are from WV-like states. (overwhelmingly White and Repug). Voting against Sessions probably will hurt them but I admire that they did so nonetheless. But if both of them pulled a Manchin and voted for Sessions, I would understand.

    As for McCaskill and Donnelly, they are in more diverse states and had they voted for Sessions, a primary challege would definitely be in order.

    • jpgray

      He’s not perfect, but I’m a huge fan of Tester. If you want some clues on how to back a Democratic president from a conservative prairie state, Tester is in many ways an inspiration.

      • djw

        +1

  • NewishLawyer

    West Virginia strikes me as being a very odd state in terms of Democratic candidates because you have the group you mentioned above but also a lot of environmental activists who hate the coal industry. Sometimes minority or minorityish parties become emboldened to stronger positions because what do they have to lose?

    That being said, I think Manchin is the best hope for the Democrats in 2018 until someone mentions a specific candidate instead of “Let’s primary Manchin!”

    • busker type

      It would be hard to over-emphasize how powerless (we) environmentalists are in WV.

      • JR in WV

        Wow, have you got that right!

        I worked for DEP trying to keep those bastards honest for years, and it was an uphill fight all the way. The best we could do was keep the data public by just doing it, without asking for permission.

        The Oil and Gas Inspectors are pre-approved by the O&G industry groups before they are hired. How well do you think they enforce the pitiful regs? Not at all, that’s how. I worked with those guys and couldn’t get them to make the Gas company put culverts in their well site roads on my farm.

        Which meant the ditches ran full of mud into the creeks, which were so full of that clay mud sediment that the life was suffocated out of all the benthic life forms in those creeks. At least we have great neighbors who are better than the family I have that voted for Trump.

    • Breadbaker

      In 2018, we are going to be playing some serious defense because of the number of seats we have to defend. Putting any resources into a West Virginia primary challenge unless that person has somehow become a rockstar who can not only beat Manchin in a primary but then win a general (including against a potential repeat of the Connecticut for Lieberman Party) is a waste of resources we’re going to need in Montana and Missouri and Indiana and wherever, God forbid, there’s a retirement or death.

      • busker type

        This is pretty much the argument-ender on the subject. Love Manchin or hate him, we’re playing defense (in the senate) in 2018.

    • djw

      I think Manchin is the best hope for the Democrats in 2018 until someone mentions a specific candidate instead of “Let’s primary Manchin!”

      I’m skeptical there exists a West Virginia Democrat who a) could plausibly launch a primary challenge of note against Manchin and b) has an interest in doing so. But if such a creature exists, I doubt the enthusiasm for the “primary Manchin” project would survive a close look at him/her.

      • busker type

        And if there was such a candidate (there isn’t) I would rather they took on one of our 3 republican congressmen

        • JR in WV

          Yes, this.

  • AMK

    I don’t see why Sessions is so much more essential for Manchin to vote for than, say, DeVos. There are lots of Trump voters in VW, but how likely are they to use Sessions, who most of them (like most Americans) never heard of before November, as some kind of totem? Manchin’s most important thing to do is be seen fighting very loudly and publicly for the sainted coal miners. Showing up with Trump in WV to hype the coal industry that everyone except the miners know is doomed is far more important than any confirmation vote.

    • jpgray

      Are we acknowledging that this level of opposition to cabinet appointees is unusual before damning people? I mean, the only one I really recall off the top of my head, prior to Obama is Tower. Any value in following the norms in the absence of total incapability (DeVos)?

      • Schadenboner

        There are no more norms, full-fucking-stop.

    • djw

      I think Manchin might well have opposed DeVos on the merits, for similar reasons as Murkowski–charter school’s skimming of public funds poses a distinct kind of challenge in very rural states.

      I, too, wish he would have voted against Sessions, and am skeptical the vote will have much of an impact on his reelection chances, but that’s neither here nor there.

      • busker type

        See also: Tom Price and the 179,000 people covered by the Medicaid expansion in WV. ~7% of the population of the state.

      • Darkrose

        Sessions will probably be willing to keep the DOJ from going after Manchin’s daughter, the epi-pen profiteer.

    • JKTH

      Also Manchin voting against Sessions would probably be issue number 8 million by 2018. Nobody would remember it at all, especially since the nomination passed anyway.

    • njorl

      I don’t see why Sessions is so much more essential for Manchin to vote for than, say, DeVos.

      Teachers unions still have some pull in WV.
      Black people do not.

  • jamesjhare

    Our reporters are not learning: http://wapo.st/2k3IVs3

    Not even sure what beat they’re trying to sweeten there but that’s some excrement posing as journalism.

    • tsam

      It is, but I’ve noticed some improvements at WaPo and the NYT lately. I’m hoping it isnt just spite over Trump attacking the media.

      • njorl

        People are always short-changing spite. I’m planning a national “Spite Appreciation Day”, in recognition of all the good that comes from spite.

    • efgoldman

      Not even sure what beat they’re trying to sweeten there

      Anything in any paper labelled “style” is not to be taken as journalism.
      Period.
      End of discussion.

      I’ve noticed some improvements at WaPo and the NYT lately. I’m hoping it isnt just spite over Trump attacking the media.

      I don’t care what their motivation is.

    • Donna Gratehouse

      Wow, that tops what I thought was today’s winner for false equivalence: Truman wrote a letter bawling out a reviewer in 1950 so no one gets to criticize Trump exploding over Nordstroms now both sides! But apparently Eleanor Roosevelt did something like 80 years ago so stop criticizing Melania!

  • jamesjhare

    That and I would rather have a real Republican representing West Virginia instead of a fake Democrat who distinguishes himself by shitting on his ostensible party.

    • Ahenobarbus

      Manchin will vote with Dems much more often than a real Republican would.

    • Steve LaBonne

      People like you are one of the major reasons why we can’t have nice things.

    • libraryguy

      Why would you want that? For a sense of clarity?

      Bluntly, I would rather (absent another D who could actually win in WV) have Manchin shit on my party once a month for six years than attack him for this vote. He is a D, and we need 51 for a majority and actual power. I’m not throwing away any shitty Dem unless they can confidently be replaced by a better Dem.

      You know what you call Nancy Pelosi when she has a bunch of shitty Blue Dogs in her caucus? Speaker of the House. The motto is supposed to be more AND better Democrats, but I’ll take the Dems I can realistically get.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        does someone have the stats on how often Manchin votes with the Dems?

        • Abbey Bartlet

          From 2015:

          In the Senate, Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) voted against the rest of the Democrats more than 25 percent of the time.

          Even in close votes, he voted with the Dems >60% of the time.

          • jpgray

            Not only are you a minute faster than me, but you’re better at reading the same chart. I’ll just think things and you post them from now on?

        • jpgray

          Here you go.

          As of 2015, 80% of the time. I haven’t gone vote by vote, but based on this would you take him over Susan Collins? Let alone whatever rough creature could replace him in WV?

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            thank yous to both you and Abbey

            he’s worse than I expected but a 60% democrat seems better than a 100% republican

            • jpgray

              The thing to recognize is there are no 25% R-voting 60% D-voting Republican senate hopefuls that would be replacing him. That is an impossible creature. It cannot exist ANYWHERE. If it can’t happen in NH, who expects it in freaking WV?

            • Abbey Bartlet

              A 10% Democrat is better than 100% Republican if it gives us the power to silence Mitch McConnell.

    • Abbey Bartlet

      I would rather have a real Republican representing West Virginia instead of a fake Democrat

      Congratulations, this is the dumbest thing I’ve seen all day, and I read Jill Stein’s tweets.

      Tell me, James, how is your life going to be affected by the complete lack of–hostility to, really–civil rights protections we’re about to have?

    • Snuff curry

      Meaning it wouldn’t affect you either way, so you’d prefer the slime that’s guaranteed to fuck over the little people each and every time over the one that sometimes won’t. Contradictions! Not nearly high enough!

    • djw

      Even if you’re right, the point I’m making is that it doesn’t matter. We don’t have a bullet to shoot ourselves with.

    • David Allan Poe

      Funny, because I would much prefer Mark Begich, for all his flaws, as my senator over empty Republican suit Dan Sullivan.

      And I notice that, other than a purely posturing vote against DeVos, having as my other senator the “maverick,” “independent” Republican Lisa Murkowski is functionally no different than being represented by the idiotic right-wing jackass Joe Miller.

    • PohranicniStraze

      Out of curiosity, what state do you call home? Because as a resident of Texas, I will say without reservation that I would happily take a Manchin-clone over either of the worthless shitbags that currently “represent” me in the Senate.

  • Bitter Scribe

    That piece of shit Lieberman got primaried, and look what happened.

    • nemdam

      He was in a blue state. Primarying him made strategic sense.

    • Abbey Bartlet

      Connecticut: 31st-whitest state; PPOTUS got 40.9% of the vote.
      West Virginia: Third-whitest state; PPOTUS got 67.9% of the vote.

      If you don’t see the difference between those two places, I can’t help you.

    • FFFFFFIIII

      Lieberman survived for two reasons, neither of which are relevant to this case.

      1) The Republicans didn’t bother to contest it and told their voters to vote for him.

      2) There are no sore loser laws in CT.

  • Abbey Bartlet

    As I explained over and over to people who didn’t like Republicans but thought Scott Brown was a decent guy, it matters who has a majority.

    PPOTUS got 68% of the vote in West Virginia. The only state he did better was Wyoming (by .3%). If Manchin votes with Republicans 100% of the time but still caucuses with the Dems and we get control of the committees and we get to cane people tell people to shut up, fine, I’ll take it, because the other option is not someone who votes with the Dems–it’s someone who votes with Republicans 100% of the time and caucuses with the Republicans.

    • libraryguy

      Amen!!

  • politicalfootball

    Mike Royko wrote a column many years ago that stuck with me. He was writing about Solidarity, the dissident trade union in the Poland of the 1980s, and its American critics who said that it was irresponsible of Lech Walesa to be promoting the belief that conditions could be materially changed.

    Royko conceded one point: It looked pretty bleak for Solidarity. The Soviet yoke was not likely to be thrown off. But Royko said it was incredibly presumptuous for outsiders to criticize an unambiguous hero like Walesa, and it was up to the Poles to determine the risks they were prepared to take for whatever slim hope there was of a better country.

    If I lived in W.Va., I’d be open to voting against Manchin in a primary. There was a lot of gloating when Sharon Angle and some of the other Tea Party nuts got beat, but as others have pointed out, this is how the Republicans learned not to cross the Tea Party.

    And how absurd and hopeless was it when that TV reality-show star announced his candidacy? How much better off the alt-right would have been if they had only shown some moderation and backed Jeb Bush. At least then they would have gotten some of their agenda enacted.

    Certainly Democrats can tolerate a bit of heterodoxy, but Jeff Sessions is obviously a bridge too far for decent Americans.

    • libraryguy

      But Manchin’s vote didn’t put Sessions through. If it had, I could see it being a deal-breaker.

      • Abbey Bartlet

        This.

        • politicalfootball

          Ineffectuality doesn’t strike me as much of a defense. Manchin thought it was important to stand up alone among Democrats on Sessions’ side. That’s loathsome.

          My judgment is colored by the fact that Sessions crosses a line that, say, Devos or Perry or Tillerson does not. Open contempt for the rights of African Americans is a pretty goddam big deal when you’re talking about the chief federal law enforcer.

          It goes without saying that no Republican should be supported over Manchin, but if he gets primaried, I might throw his opponent a few bucks.

          • Abbey Bartlet

            But if the primary opponent would affect us winning in the general, that would be bad.

            • politicalfootball

              Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres.

              • Abbey Bartlet

                And how many other people have to die in the process?

              • sibusisodan

                Killing Admiral Byng had a negative effect on the morale of the navy and the freedom of admirals to decide tactics.

                Voltaire was being heavily sarcastic.

      • JKTH

        Manchin was out there saying he was in favor of Sessions before there was a good indication of what the vote would be. The fact that his vote didn’t flip things didn’t enter into that.

        • Hogan

          You need a better indication than a 52-48 Republican majority?

    • djw

      If I lived in W.Va., I’d be open to voting against Manchin in a primary.

      I probably would too. But it doesn’t matter, because people who think the Session vote is a big (negative) deal aren’t going to make a difference in that election, and there’s no political strategy outsiders can mount the next 18 months to change that.

      • nixnutz

        If a movement similar to Solidarity arises in W. Va in the next couple years I’d be willing to rethink the whole problem though.

  • eduardoleonidas

    The tea party had a number of success and ultimately gained a significant measure of control over the GOP. But they also primaried Mike Castle in Delaware. Castle would have walked away here in Delaware, a state very fond of long time politicians. It’s also a state where the Republican party no longer exists for all practical purposes. Castle was literally the only chance the GOP had to elect someone to national office. Christine O’Donnell, on the other hand, has never been heard from again.

    • NoMoreAltCenter

      She flew off on her broomstick

  • xq

    I don’t get it. Your complaint about a group of people who want to give up a Democratic seat to a much worse Republican is that they won’t actually succeed in giving it up? Isn’t that like attacking Jill Stein for not managing to swing the election to Trump?

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    djw: I see your addition- to the question you’re asking my answer is “no”. The question of supporting a more progressive primary opponent to Manchin who would be plausibly more electable than him in the general can be re opened when that unicorn rears its pointed head

    • jpgray

      Exactly. You could just maybe scorched-earth beat Manchin on the strength of the vast difference between primary and general voters, beating him up with high profile causes our people care about, like energy policy and reproductive rights, but then your victor, unless she’s one in hundreds of millions, and probably even then, dies in the general. Or you could cripple Manchin.

      In either case, you aren’t getting even a Murkowski, you’re getting some unholy, partisan, id-driven, moral homunculus monster of a senator.

      Can we hold unfavorable territory and plan for the future everywhere else at the same time please?

  • Aaron Morrow

    Heitcamp or Tester could replace Manchin as Vice Chairman of Policy & Communications for the Senate Democratic Leadership, assuming leadership positions mean anything.

    • mongolia

      isn’t the assumption that they gave him that position to prevent him from switching to republican? kinda like how they gave an independent (sanders) a chairmanship? seems like this is fairly mundane caucus management by schumer, since a lot of these roles seem fairly bullshit.

      and frankly, in order to get to 51+ senate seats in 2020 we’re going to need to hold as many seats as possible in ’18, since the ’20 map is merely okay for us

  • Morbo

    I dunno. On the one hand, fuck this guy on principle. On the other I’m just glad he was the only defector. As in, if there were 5 or 6 them primary them all, but just let his ass crawl back where it came from and spend the resources on winnable general elections? On the third maybe he won’t win the general either and it’ll be better to get that punch in ourselves than letting the R’s have it. Shit sucks…

  • Morse Code for J

    I grew up in West Virginia, and live here now after a 15-year hiatus. Do not waste your time fantasizing about a primary opponent for Joe Manchin.

    Even if you could find support in the state Democratic Party for a primary opponent, no Democrat wants to run in a primary against Joe Manchin. He is the most popular Democratic figure in the state, followed closely by Jim Justice, the governor who managed to win last year despite the state going for Trump by 30 points. There are maybe two demonstrated statewide winners behind whom the Democrats might coalesce, if Manchin were to announce his retirement – former governor Earl Ray Tomblin, and former secretary of state Natalie Tennant. To give you an idea of the fundamentals here, Tennant stepped up for the 2014 U.S. Senate election that then-Rep. Shelley Moore-Capito won 62-34. After two terms, Tennant lost to a Republican this past fall.

    It’s Manchin or a Republican for six years in 2018. He knows it, and so does everyone else.

  • vic rattlehead

    I am generally very sympathetic to the argument for giving red state Dems a lot of leeway. I’d rather have Manchin in our caucus than another Capito. I’ll take a Howell Heflin clone over any Republican in Alabama. Etc.

    But it strikes me that at some point there needs to be a red line. AG Sessions he…just stands for some vile shit. He’s an unreconstructed confederate. He wants to take us back *at least* half a century in civil rights. He was an early and vocal Trump supporter. He represents a grave danger to the lives of millions of people not only in America but in our own goddamn caucus. Sessions is worse than a replacement Republican hack. I could forgive a Dem vote for a Gonzalez, but this guy?

    This is it right here. The battle to shoot down Sessions was part of the battle for America. What’s the point of having Manchin in our caucus if he is going to do things like this? Pragmatically I know we could use him when it comes to stuff like preserving the ACA. Which I depend on! But…this is fate of the republic right here. If you won’t oppose fascist thugs…what business do you have calling yourself a Democrat?

    • Morse Code for J

      Because fascist thugs won the state by 30 points in 2016, and he needs them to return to office.

      If it might have stopped Sessions and given us someone better for the next four years, maybe you vote no if you’re Joe Manchin. In the same way, maybe Cory Booker risks antagonizing the 100,000 pharma employees in New Jersey if the benefits from re-importing U.S. drugs sold to Canada weren’t ephemeral. A DOJ with no sympathy for the civil rights of minorities was in the cards, no matter what Joe Manchin did. The red line should not and cannot be here.

      • Halcyon

        I’m sympathetic to both sides of the argument, honestly, although I’m leaning towards Vic here. But, honest question: If the red line doesn’t go here, then where the hell does it go? What’s our “We do at least have *some* principles” line?

        • Morse Code for J

          Somewhere that Manchin’s vote might change an outcome? If he helps Republicans break a filibuster on Medicare privatization or cutting Social Security, fine – he’s dead to me, and so is every other Democrat who participates in that. But the Cabinet appointees are filibuster-proof – all that a Democratic vote means without Republican crossovers is signaling for future elections.

          Sessions is a piece of shit. He is not substantively different from any other Attorney General whom Trump might nominate, and the Democrats cannot stop him or any other nominee alone. Let it go.

        • Abbey Bartlet

          If Sessions could have been stopped?

          ETA: I’m just gonna let MCfJ answer for me from now on.

        • Michael Masinter

          I grew up in W.Va. and return regularly, and Morse Code for J is right; the only democrat who could could possibly beat Manchin is Robert Byrd, but he’s dead.

          Manchin caucuses with the democratic party; that’s all the reason you need to support his reelection over a republican, at least until we have control of the Senate. Imagine how different a place the Senate (and therefore the U.S.) would be today with 51 democrats instead of 48 (or 46 for Obama’s last two years) in the Senate.

    • Abbey Bartlet

      The battle to shoot down Sessions was part of the battle for America.

      And that battle was lost with or without him.

      ETA: Or what MCfJ said much more thoroughly.

    • Murc

      This is a perfectly cogent argument that I largely agree with, vic, but, again… djw’s point is that we don’t, actually, have the ability to plausibly screw Manchin over because of this. We need to actually have the knife before we can decide whether or not to use.

      We don’t even need a primary candidate who can win against Manchin in the primary; we would just need someone who can cripple him so badly he loses the general. We don’t even have that. If one appears I’d be happy to consider getting behind them, but until they do…

      • Abbey Bartlet

        we would just need someone who can cripple him so badly he loses the general. We don’t even have that. If one appears I’d be happy to consider getting behind them, but until they do…

        Sorry, you would support someone because you thought they would lead to a Republican winning?

        • Murc

          I would consider deploying a weapon that would cause Manchin to lose his job if we had such a weapon.

          We do not. Which means we can’t even have that argument.

          • Abbey Bartlet

            I just want to make sure I’m clear on what you’re saying–if we had a weapon that would lead to a Republican winning a Senate seat you would consider using it?

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              I shouldn’t speak for Murc but what I think he’s saying is that a primary candidate needs to be able to put the fear of god into Manchin, and since there isn’t even a *hint* of *any* primary opponent the discussion is moot

            • ΧΤΠΔ

              He means if we had a weapon that would lead to a left-of-Manchin candidate that could still feasibly beat a Republican for his seat, he would consider using it. We don’t, so we can’t.

              Fuck West Virginia.

            • Murc

              Yes. Absolutely. Just as the Republicans have in the past used weapons which have led to Democrats winning Senate and House seats, but which put the fear of god into the rest of the caucus.

              I would absolutely consider doing that depending on the circumstances, and “Democratic Senator votes affirmatively in favor of handing the DoJ over to a white supremacist” is one of those circumstances.

      • vic rattlehead

        I know I just have an immense amount of frustration. I pride myself on my political pragmatism and I know it’s not like he was the deciding vote but it just bothers me so goddamn much to see it, and that we have to put up with this in our caucus. In the end I think I agree with MSJ but it’s a massive fucking shit sandwich.

    • xq

      But it strikes me that at some point there needs to be a red line.

      This is the same argument Bernie-busters/third party voters give for why they can’t vote for Dems and is wrong for the same reason. A better candidate is always better than a worse candidate. Why does there need to be a red line? Progressives are not a majority. Lots of people disagree with us, even other Democrats. We will always be in coalitions with people we disagree with on fundamental issues. We need to get better at attracting such people and better at electing candidate like Manchin in states progressives can’t win.

      • Abbey Bartlet

        A better candidate is always better than a worse candidate.

        This. And, I would add: A Democrat who can win is always better than a Democrat who can’t win.

      • vic rattlehead

        Well I certainly was not a Bernie or buster. I guess my non-trolly point (honestly, I don’t think most people familiar with my commenting history would consider me a troll) is-where is the line? Is there a line? When does a Democrat go so far to the right that they might as well not call themselves a Democrat? I think Cuomo comes close even though I did vote for him. A guy who votes to confirm someone who wants to take away the voting rights and put the (not so) proverbial boot to the neck of millions of voters in his own damned party?

        I am of the general opinion that a larger caucus is more important than a smaller but more ideologically cohesive one. I was THRILLED when it looked like Evan Bayh was gonna win his old seat back. I was thrilled to have his vote on the ACA even if I knew he was probably one of the reasons it wasn’t better. Thrilled to have his vote to confirm our judges. Etc.

        And Manchin may give us some of that-but at what a cost? I would at least like to see some serious weighing of the pros and cons. We’ll take your vote when we need it and we’ll let you pull shit like this? Or get the fuck out of our party with your authoritarian thug enabling bullshit?

        I’n no purity pony. I’m okay with a LOT of heterodoxy. But voting for a racist to be AG is so not okay. So not okay. And I will swallow the shit sandwich but ugh. I will put up with Manchin because he has a lot of racist piece of shit constituents but god damn what a horrible world.

        • Abbey Bartlet

          I would at least like to see some serious weighing of the pros and cons.

          We can discuss the pros and cons of a procedurally meaningless vote once we have power.

        • djw

          I guess my non-trolly point (honestly, I don’t think most people familiar with my commenting history would consider me a troll) is-where is the line? Is there a line? When does a Democrat go so far to the right that they might as well not call themselves a Democrat?

          It’s a slightly different context, but I think much of what I said here reflects my views on this question.

          To translate it into the present context, it’s reasonable to be upset that we’re stuck with someone who votes for white supremacy. The solution is to figure out how to create a less racist electorate, or win more seats in less racist states, or both–not fantasize about grand gestures we’re in no position to make because we haven’t done those things.

        • xq

          There is no line. There is no point where the logic of lesser-evilism breaks down, because less evil is always better than more evil. No one has given a plausible argument for why the world would be a better place with a Republican in that seat.

          • so-in-so

            Right, the line exists after the point we have a majority without him. Then, and only then, do you look for a shiv and not care about losing.

            I’m pretty sure that had the GOP been in firm decline of power, the threat of TP primary opponents to incumbent Republicans would have withered quickly. The fact that it only delayed a Senate majority by a year or two made it acceptable to the people funding the TP.

        • humanoid.panda

          Well I certainly was not a Bernie or buster. I guess my non-trolly point (honestly, I don’t think most people familiar with my commenting history would consider me a troll) is-where is the line? Is there a line? When does a Democrat go so far to the right that they might as well not call themselves a Democrat?

          Richard Shelby, the other Alabama Senator, was a Democrat until 1995. I am guessing his record on stuff other than organizing the Senate didn’t change much with the switch. Would I keep him? Hell yeah, because the vote on organizing the Senate **matters**.

  • randy khan

    My objection to mounting a serious primary challenge from the left to Manchin is that it doesn’t seem to be worth the resources. Absent some evidence that there’s someone on the left who has a better chance of winning than him, there’s no reason other than pique to go to the trouble. The money and time ought to be spent somewhere else where it might do more good. (Arizona or Nevada, for instance.)

    As others have said above, the single most important thing about Manchin is that he will vote the right way on organizing the Senate. This is particularly important in 2018, when Dems need to do whatever they can to get control.

    • Breadbaker

      I’d go further and suggest that unless you are maxed out on contributions to every Democratic Senator and every candidate for the House in every marginal district in the country, spending a nickel on a primary challenge to Manchin is a waste of resources.

  • Fidalgo

    Yeah, Manchin is a flaming liberal commie by West Virginia standards. He’s still coasting on the political legend of his father and if it weren’t for that Manchin would have been toast by now based solely on his policies.

    DIdnt he vote against DeVos?

    Nothing should be done openly or covertly to oppose him.

    He may actually have a conscience left in him and might be open to ways of moving leftword if he can keep it quiet in WV.

  • busker type

    Part of the reason the “primary this asshole” strategy looks attractive is that it has worked pretty well for our counterparts on the right wing of the Republican Party… the problem though, is that republicans have huge structural advantages over us in the senate. it might make good sense to look for targets for this kind of whipping in the house.

    • xq

      I don’t think it’s at all clear that the Tea Party primaries in competitive general election seats were beneficial to the conservative movement. It cost them some seats. What did they get out of it, exactly?

      • LosGatosCA

        Let’s see, for the cost of a few winnable Senate seats – not chopped liver to be sure – they got massive success at the state level and a whole party so fearful of their agenda they couldn’t stop getting the Moran in chief. And continued control of the Supreme Court for likely the next 30-40 years. That’s a pretty good trade.

        Admittedly they drew 10 inside cards to a straight, but they knew (instinctively) they could plan on Democratic incompetence and lack of commitment playing into their hands.

        The Republicans play, they don’t talk, a long game. And they don’t appoint any Democrats to their Daddy jobs when they have control.

        • randy khan

          I don’t want to suggest it wasn’t entirely a rational trade, but those lost Senate seats meant not having control of the Senate for 4 years. During those 4 years, among other things, President Obama appointed a ton of federal judges.

          • LosGatosCA

            But not Scalia’s replacement – which counts more.

            And that was a direct result of the take no prisoners approach of the Republican base.

            I don’t advocate that approach for the Democratic Party because they have an alternative brand that can win a different way – if it’s executed effectively. But the fact that Democrats have won the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential but will lose the opportunity for control of the Supreme Court for a generation and the record at the state level the in blue and purple states overall is abysmal, shows that ‘executing effectively’ for Democrats is a pretty elusive goal.

            • Dave W.

              And if Scalia had died in early 2013 instead of 2016, or if the Tea Party had sabotaged a couple more Senate campaigns in 2014 so that Democrats held the Senate for two more years, then Obama would have been able to fill Scalia’s seat – if necessary, by getting rid of the Supreme Court filibuster and ramming it through in the lame duck session. Control of the Senate matters a lot.

        • xq

          Can you elaborate on the causal connections you see here? I don’t see how the Tea Party primaries caused either Republican success at the state level or Trump winning.

  • LosGatosCA

    You know there’s a simple test I’ve applied to women, cars, houses, politicians, heck, everything:

    If I’m going to make a change, trade up.

    That’s it. If you can identify a trade up opportunity from a Democratic senator in a red state, go for it. Anything else is self-destructive, a trade down to nothing but that empty feeling a suddenly sentient Jill Stein voter feels reading her tweets

    Proving to red state voters that you don’t share their values is a pretty easy thing to do. Ensuring Manchin’s defeat from a Democratic initiative to use him as an example is easy pickings.

  • pillsy

    On the one hand, primarying Manchin is a non-starter, as djw said.

    On the other hand, he just delivered a calculated, racist insult to a lot of Democrats. It’s hard to overlook that or excuse it.

    • LosGatosCA

      On the other hand, he just delivered a calculated, racist insult to a lot of Democrats. It’s hard to overlook that or excuse it.

      Or you could say he made a strategic vote to show his racist constituency that they should vote for him in the next election. It’s the inverse of Susan Collins non-decisive vote against DeVos.

      • Morse Code for J

        This. He has an electorate willing to vote him by his name alone, and tolerate his quirk of being a Democrat, so long as he votes with the Republicans a fair amount of the time.

  • anonymous

    Most of us agree that Manchin did what he needed to do to avoid alienating his White racist constituency. The follow-up then is whether Tester or Heitkamp will pay some price for not voting for Sessions. MT and BD are just as White and Repug as WV after all.

    So part of me wonders if maybe Heitkamp and Testers should have pulled a Manchin as well for similar strategic reasons.

  • alexceres

    I feel like you grossly underestimate what a properly motivated person can do with a plastic spork

  • fd2

    I’m sympathetic to the idea that Democrats in red states may have to make bad votes due to their constituents. However –

    A) voting to confirm Sessions is a step too far, and, more saliently,

    B) People are simultaneously making the argument “Manchin had to vote sessions because otherwise his constituency might vote him out!” and “It’s impossible to primary Manchin, he won by 25 points, he’s way too popular!”

    Pick one. Either his seat is so tenuous that a vote for Sessions could be the deciding factor, or it’s so safe that he’s un-primaryable. You can’t have both.

    • xq

      Primary elections are different from general elections.

      • fd2

        Manchin won his last Senate election by 14%.

        • rhino

          And is quite likely to lose the next one.

    • I think the relevant point is that he’s popular…for a Democrat. An even more relevant point is it seems very unlikely that Democrats will find someone who can successfully primary Manchin from the left, and even more unlikely that such a candidate would then go on to hold the state in the general election.

      Now, I could be wrong. Maybe there is a form of progressive politics that has yet to catch on WV that could, unexpectedly, lift a primary challenger to victory over all foes in the next 20 months. But I wouldn’t count on it.

    • Morse Code for J

      Both statements in (B) are true. The first is true because West Virginia is Trump’s second-biggest win in the 2016 election, a cycle in which every incumbent Democrat executive lost except for the state treasurer. The second is true because no other Democrat has Manchin’s name recognition (uncle who held statewide office, state delegate and state senator from Fairmont, secretary of state, governor twice, senator twice), and unless that primary opponent went on to win the general election, Manchin and his friends would make sure that their careers as Democratic candidates in West Virginia would be over.

      Could a Democrat run against Manchin? Sure. Does anyone with the talent to win statewide want to try it, in a year where Manchin himself is likely to lose to the Republican in the general election? No.

    • rhino

      No, there is no conflict. There is no democratic candidate who could primary him successfully, which is where he is safe. In the primary. In the election against a republican candidate, his chances of victory are not the best, and the damage from a hard fought primary might sink him.

      You are making the Bernie Bro mistake: That Bernie doing well in a primary makes him electable in a general. They are completely different animals.

  • philip.koop

    If this whole thing results in “spork” used as a political verb, I’m totally blaming you.

  • Dilan Esper

    I don’t have a particular view of the Manchin situation, but the policy of the party should be to encourage contested primaries whenever possible. One of the reasons the 2016 presidential primary came out the way it did was because significant effort was made to discourage elected Democrats from offering an alternative to HRC, and creating structural barriers (like the scheduling of debates) to anyone that did. That resulted in a ton of bad blood.

    There’s really no evidence that primaries hurt the party in general elections. That is a convenient story told by incumbents and party favorites who would rather not risk a loss. The party’s position should be that all challengers are welcome and will compete under fair rules with no reprisals.

    • humanoid.panda

      I don’t have a particular view of the Manchin situation, but the policy of the party should be to encourage contested primaries whenever possible. One of the reasons the 2016 presidential primary came out the way it did was because significant effort was made to discourage elected Democrats from offering an alternative to HRC, and creating structural barriers (like the scheduling of debates) to anyone that did. That resulted in a ton of bad blood.

      Um, what? Both parties do whatever they can to avoid primaries against incumbents, and for a very good reason.

      • twbb

        There is a decades-long history of Democratic primaries destroying the victors in the general. E.g., Al Gore coming up with Willie Horton.

        In any event, the whether-to-primary-Manchin question is a valuable one to raise by Democratic party strategists because it’s an easy litmus test. Those who argue yes can be safely blacklisted from campaign strategy jobs for gross incompetence.

        • humanoid.panda

          I think there is a major difference between an open primary, which among other things should test for weaknesses (Dukakis should have had a good answer re: Horton after the Gore attacks..) and a primary against an incumbent, which rarely if ever leads to good things.

          • Dilan Esper

            Most incumbents who were “harmed” by primary challenges were going to lose anyway. The primary challenge gets blamed but it isn’t at fault.

            • humanoid.panda

              Jimmy Carter says hi.

  • Joe_JP

    Finding a progressive challenger with any bite in West Virginia seems a long shot, though the vote for Sessions (he did vote against DeVos) rankles. The “not a Democrat” comments apparently means being for background checks, a sixty vote rule for Supreme Court justice, ACA, voting for Chuck Schumer as Majority Leader etc. Tad strange.

    The idea he is a lost cause in 2018 also isn’t clear to me. He won 60% of the vote in 2012 and did much better than Obama in WVA.

    I think there are other battles much more worth our time. OTOH, if he is the 60th vote or 51st vote for something real horrible, yes, I would be somewhat more open to shunning him. I understand the distaste but he isn’t quite Lieberman (who endorsed McCain, coming from Connecticut, not exactly a strong red state) yet.

  • RonC

    Here’s the thing. The tea party destroyed anything that resembled a moderate in the Republican Party. In the process they lost some general elections, but in the (not very) long run they control the country.

    Liberals and the left compromise and compromise at the same time “moderates” scream that we don’t and we lose and lose. So……….

    • Joe_JP

      Manchin voted for Sessions. Rand Paul was a sole vote against the Republican ACA bill. He wasn’t drummed out of the party. Lindsey Graham voted for Sonia Sotomayor. Two Republicans voted against DeVos. Republicans let their people vote their conscience when it doens’t matter in various cases. Meanwhile, on a range of issues including ACA, Manchin votes with the Democrats.

      • humanoid.panda

        Liberals and the left compromise and compromise at the same time “moderates” scream that we don’t and we lose and lose. So……….

        American history started in 2010, ended in 2016, and skipped over 2012. It is known.

  • Trump and Perry are going to betray the 60,000 surviving coal miners. They won’t stop the slide in coal jobs, which is driven by this. Nor will they even try, beyond rolling back a few symbolic regulations. The gang of oilmen certainly will not propose the one thing that could work, a swinging coal subsidy. A few tame coal politicians tried this in Australia and got nowhere. There will be be no retraining or other Band-Aid programme for Appalachia.

    Won’t the denunciation come better from Manchin, who really does support coal, than from mainstream Democrats like Clinton and Obama who accept the necessity of the death of the industry?

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