Republicans Greeted Joe Manchin’s Bipartisan Happy Talk By Demonstrating They Are Insane
We’ll get to the diversified and wide-ranging insanity erupting from the hellspout of the Republican Party in just a tick, but first, here’s a completely nutso statement from a putative Democrat. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia said Monday there is no scenario “whatsoever” in which he will vote to get rid of the filibuster, an anti-democratic procedural gambit that has been used by Mitch McConnell over the last dozen years or so to pursue scorched-earth obstructionism in the Senate. Manchin has adopted this position based on the following belief about the current Republican Party: “They know we all have to work together,” he told Sahil Kapur of NBC News. “You just can’t basically be objectionable to everything just because you’re in the minority now.” Ah yes, the Republican Party we know and love, the one that is committed to constructive governance in the public interest over its own narrow political prerogatives.
Conveniently, some members of the Republican Senate minority provided evidence of this spirit of bipartisan cooperation the very same day. Here’s a statement from Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas explaining why he was one of 15 Republicans to vote against confirming Janet Yellen as Joe Biden’s Secretary of the Treasury, despite the fact that Yellen, as a former Federal Reserve chair who lies well within the mainstream of modern economics, is manifestly qualified. Cotton did not even really dispute Yellen’s fitness for the job.
Joe Biden pledged unity, but his top priority for our economy is to rig the system so that people are treated differently on the basis of race. The woke commissars who run the government call this ‘equity,’ but separating people into buckets based on their skin color will always be immoral. Janet Yellen has served the public for many years, but I will not support nominees who’ve indicated they will advance Joe Biden’s divisive economic vision for our country
So Tom Cotton will not support any nominee for Treasury Secretary who will advance Joe Biden’s economic vision? This is the same as saying he will not support Joe Biden having a Treasury Secretary at all. (It was broadly expected, by the way, that if Republicans had retained control of the Senate they would have ritually blocked Biden’s Cabinet nominees.) And of course the statement would not be complete without a bad-faith clause about Unity. It seems that the Republican Party now considers Joe Biden governing the country according to the vision he articulated in his successful campaign for president—the one where he got 7 million more votes from American citizens than his opponent—is an assault on National Unity. The only way to have Unity is to do what Republicans want all the time. Everything else is divisive. But Joe Manchin tells us he can work with these people.
This attitude even extends to the mythical Republican moderates, like the inexplicably re-elected Susan Collins of Maine, who had some thoughts this week on that 2020 contest: “What this campaign taught me about Chuck Schumer,” she told CNN, “is that he will say or do anything in order to win.” Sounds like the start of a beautiful friendship. They should be Coming Together to pass an immigration-reform bill any day now! We’re at the point where theoretically persuadable Republicans like Collins seem to have outright animus towards Democratic leadership. And that’s before you get into just how theoretical Collins is as a swing vote. The evidence is scant that she’ll break with McConnell unless he doesn’t need her vote. While she did help kill the Repeal and Go Fuck Yourself healthcare bill, it’s hardly representative of her tenure.
The sad fact of the matter is that the Republican Party’s membership ranges from the completely batshit people trying to smuggle firearms onto the House floor to the slightly more savvy actors operating in perpetual bad faith. The consensus position, now that Republican members of Congress have had a few weeks to marinate in the bullshit emanating from conservative media, is that the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump for inciting an insurrection against the government of the United States is somehow unconstitutional or, worse, it violates the Unity principle. The only way to have Unity, after all, is to allow Republicans to spin insane fairy tales about how the election—nay, the country—was stolen from them and their supporters until some section of the base erupts in political violence, and then grant impunity to those responsible in the aftermath.
And then there’s Florida Man Marco Rubio.
And Florida Man Rick Scott:
Hilarious. Presumably, these people think they are going to be president in four years. (Nikki Haley, another 2024 wannabe, is now saying the following of the ex-president who tried to overturn an election and seize power through a putsch: “Give the man a break.”) Mr. Scott would not be mistaken for a comedian, but he does have some first-hand knowledge of the weak points in our Medicare billing system. Maybe he’ll put that to use going forward.
But in the shameless stakes, few can hope to match the big kahuna, Mitch McConnell, who took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to declare victory in his fight to stop the upper chamber from functioning as an actual legislative body. In short, McConnell fought to keep the filibuster in place by, you guessed it, obstructing the basic organizing resolution of the Senate, whereby the new Democratic 50+1 majority would take their seats as chairs of the various committees. Up until today, would-be committee chairs like Joe Manchin (Energy and Natural Resources) were prevented from taking up their jobs by McConnell’s scorched-earth tactics. But somehow, this was all proof to Manchin that McConnell will soon enough be Reaching Across the Aisle to do anything other than tell Chuck Schumer to stop hitting himself.
Anyway, here’s McConnell’s line, via Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: “This victory will let us move forward with a 50-50 power sharing agreement,” McConnell said, after Democrats ran on and won both Georgia Senate seats on the notion it would give them a majority, which it has. That majority represents 40 million more people than the Republican minority, thanks to the Senate’s inherent anti-democratic features.
“McConnell delivers a warning,” DeBonis added by way of play-by-play: “If Dems touch the filibuster, GOP will pull out of power sharing agreement and cause ‘immediate chaos’ on the floor. ‘Destroying the filibuster would drain comity & consent from this body to a degree that would be unparalleled in living memory.'”
This is rich coming from the guy who called himself the Grim Reaper, refusing to grant a vote to any legislation his donors frowned upon regardless of what support it might have in the chamber. Democrats passed a COVID relief bill in May, but McConnell blocked it for basically the rest of the calendar year as millions of Americans were plunged into poverty by factors beyond their control. He tried to prevent Barack Obama filling any judicial vacancies at all despite the president’s constitutional prerogative to do so. There has been very little comity or consent in the Senate for years, largely by McConnell’s design.
But he still has the brass balls to say this stuff because Joe Manchin—and Kyrsten Sinema, the next-most conservative Senate Democrat—have assured him up front that there will be no consequences for his appalling behavior. He can block measures that have majority support—a majority that, again, represents tens of millions more people than McConnell’s Republican caucus does—by abusing a procedural mechanism the sanctified Founders made no mention of in the Constitution. The Senate was designed as an elitist body more removed from popular whims than the House, but it was not designed for the minority to have veto power over anything that gets less than 60 votes on top of that. Republicans already exercise hugely outsized—and anti-democratic—influence without the filibuster. Add that on top, and you’ve got a genuine crisis of democracy. But you’ve also got McConnell hamstringing a Democratic government with one eye on the midterms.
None of which seems to much matter to Ol’ Joe Manchin. One curious question for the West Virginia Democrat, however, is why exactly he ran for office. What does he hope to accomplish? What does he want to do for his constituents? And what’s the Venn diagram-overlap with “things that will get 60 votes”? As it stands, his is not a policy that actually translates to governing in the real world.