Remember how giddy the liberal media mob was when Arizona Senator John McCain gave his famous “thumbs down” to kill Obamacare. News networks sang McCain’s praises for weeks because he kept a big government program in place. McCain was famous for standing up to his fellow Republicans on occasion, and he proudly embraced the “maverick” moniker along with never taking a single pork-barrel program for his state while serving in Congress. Maverick aside, McCain’s long voting record was staunchly conservative.
The media mob was equally giddy when GOP Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney criticized Donald Trump, their own favorite target of scorn.
But when Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia stood up to fellow Democrats, declaring to be a “no” on Biden’s behemoth Build Back Better plan, the media mob sang a different tune. There was an audible on-air “gasp” from several CNN commentators when the news broke live. Theirs and other network personalities’ personal preference for socialist policies was exposed, their own sighs emblematic of the “loss” they felt in that instant.
Next up was a parade of angry progressives calling in to book time on the major networks to blast Manchin. The media lapped it up, with some commentators seeming to join in the castigation of him. Some of the criticism became personal. Yet there wasn’t so much as even a cursory analysis as to why Manchin was a “no.”
It would not have been difficult for the media mob to even fake some fairness or give a semblance of equal time to studying Manchin’s “no” vote. Inflation is at a 40-year high. There are record deficits and debt.
Perhaps the media could have noted some of the truly perverse special interest parts in Build Back Better, like expanding SALT (state and local tax) deductions, ironically the most anti-progressive provision in the bill. That provision is a boon for rich homeowners in high tax blue states like Nancy Pelosi’s and Chuck Schumer’s. It was clearly written with big Democrat donors in mind.
Then there are the subsidies for hiring journalists. How about the big tax credits for buying an electric car, something only the wealthy can do? And don’t forget the bonus if the car was made in a union plant, another goodie for a key, though dwindling, Democrat constituency. There are food benefits for the summer months when kids are out of school. Taxpayers would be right to ask, how have children eaten all these years without summer food benefits? There’s $1 billion for salmon conservation. The list goes on.
No, there hasn’t been serious mainstream media coverage of this massive bill for most of 2021. Coverage has been focused on vague “save the planet” ideas and direct childcare payments to families, with little mention that the funds go to wealthy families too. It was this fact that Joe Manchin often homed in on, stating how wasteful that was and how the payments created perverse incentives because of a lack of work requirements. It makes you wonder, how did families ever manage before these payments? And if the payments continue to drive prices up, how is anyone then better off?
Fellow Democrats and their media mob allies would be wise to try to understand Manchin’s concerns. They are legitimate. He has consistently cited the national debt and the precarious positions of Social Security and Medicare in interviews for over a decade.
If Democrats continue badgering, and badgering is the very word Manchin used to describe leftist tactics against him, Manchin might very well do what GOP Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont did on May 24, 2001. Jeffords left the GOP to become an Independent to caucus with the Democrats, throwing the 50-50 Senate control the other way. In an instant, then-Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) became minority leader.
Will Manchin be a maverick and switch parties? Maybe. His home state went for Donald Trump at nearly 70% in 2020. And don’t forget that fellow West Virginian and GOP Governor Jim Justice was once a Democrat too. If he became an Independent or joined the GOP, Manchin’s best explanation to his former colleagues might very well be, “I didn’t leave the Democrat party. The party left me.”
Jeff Szymanski works in political communications at AMAC, a senior benefits organization with nearly 2.4 million members. He previously taught high school social studies for 15 years.