Since “Joe Manchin holds all the cards and he’s a corrupt reactionary” is the correct but not life-affirming conclusion to draw from the apparent failure of BBBA, the nostalgic Green Lanternism is inevitable:
Imagining how, as Presidents during grave crisis, FDR or LBJ might have responded to Senator Manchin today.— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) December 19, 2021
The very, very obvious answer is that FDR in 1937 and LBJ in 1965 wouldn’t have had to give the slightest shit what the most conservative Democratic senator thought about anything:
Note as well that when FDR and LBJ had somewhat smaller but still substantial Dem majorities to deal with after midterm losses, their legislative agendas were largely stalled by a resurgent conservative coalition. And that’s not to mention that — in one of the chaos butterfly moments that put us in the Highway to Neoconfederacy — LBJ couldn’t even get a Supreme Court nomination confirmed, leaving an open seat for Nixon. LBJ was very skilled at taking advantage of the unique opportunity presented in 1965 but he wasn’t some magician.
In addition, a lot of the nostalgia for LBJ’s hardball tactics is basically Urban Meyer logic. Senators would respond to them about as well as Jaguars players reacted to being kicked and called worthless dipshits. Manchin and Sinema are not in fact going to suddenly embrace Biden’s entire agenda because Biden makes them watch him take a shit or invades their private space or wears them down over 8 Cutty-and-sodas.
Another popular Twitter argument is “the Republicans would never allow one marginal Senator to stop their most important priority!!!!!!!!!!” Yeah, about that:
The last time a deep blue state Republican was the 50th vote — Jim Jeffords — he responded to Republican pressure by…switching parties. When Bill Clinton tried some petty hardball on Richard Shelby, he didn’t change his votes but he did change parties. What used to be is gone, while I agree that what ought to be ought not to be so hard the period where the Senate hasn’t been the place where reform goes to die are the exceptions.
The brutal truth is that the Dems can’t afford to lose any winnable Senate elections, but in WI and PA in 2016 and FL in 2018 and ME and NC in 2020 they did. That’s the whole ballgame right there. You’re not going to change that by moving Manchin into a broom closet or something.