Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 19, 2010

MANCHIN'S UNEXCUSED ABSENCE.... It was an important day on Capitol Hill yesterday, with the Senate taking up some key measures that were years in the making. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who was expected to miss the proceedings with pre-op tests before cancer surgery tomorrow, made a point to be there. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), an orthodox Jew, worked on the Shabbat.

So it came as something of a surprise when one member of the Senate Democratic caucus couldn't quite make it to work yesterday -- and offered an underwhelming explanation for his absence.

There was one Democratic senator who missed today's crucial votes on Capitol Hill: West Virginia's Joe Manchin, who was elected just last month.

So where was Manchin when the Senate finally passed the "don't ask, don't tell" repeal and took one last shot at the DREAM Act immigration bill?

At a holiday party.

"Sen. Manchin and his wife Gayle planned a holiday gathering over a year ago with all their children and grandchildren as they will not all be together on Christmas Day. While he regrets missing the votes, it was a family obligation that he just could not break," Manchin spokeswoman Sara Payne Scarbro said.

By all appearances, Manchin's vote wouldn't have affected any of the outcomes, and based on his stated positions, Manchin would have voted with Republicans anyway.

But it's the principle here that rankles. Call me old fashioned, but I think senators should show up for work, and if they can't, the excuse should be better than "Christmas party."

Indeed, Ben Smith noted that Manchin wouldn't even have far to go to return home after the day's proceedings: "United Airlines Flight 7795 departs Washington Dulles this evening at 5:40 PM and goes direct to Charleston, W.V., where Manchin lives, arriving at 7:16 PM."

He could have voted and been home in time for pictures and eggnog.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee's spokesperson said, "I'm sure that most Senators, as well as the hundreds of staffers who had to come to work today, would have rather been at a Christmas Party like Joe Manchin. But perhaps in Joe Manchin's world today was a win-win -- not only was he able to skip work and party, but he was also able to avoid voting on two very sensitive political issues. For a Senator who has only been on the job a few weeks, Manchin's absence today, and the apparent lack of seriousness with which he takes the job he was elected to do, speaks volumes."

In most instances, the NRSC takes some pretty cheap shots at Democrats. In this case, the Dem deserves it.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (19)

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Just what the Dems need, another gutless Senator.

Posted by: Tommybones on December 19, 2010 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

It's a hellofa thing when Ole Joe Lieberman shows up and a freshman senator doesn't.
I think I remember Lieberman walking to the work one Shabbat last year to cast an important vote.

At least we have an early "heads up" on who Manchin is, and what we can expect over the next six years.

Posted by: DAY on December 19, 2010 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

Manchin is a DINO who will vote, on important issues, with the rethugs more than he will with the dumbocrats. His only value is as long as he caucuses with the dems and I would not bet on that lasting.

Too bad progressive democrats are not allowed to run for office in states like West Virginia and Indiana. We will never know if progressives can win in 'pink' states because the party leadership will never let them be nominated.

Posted by: SadOldVet on December 19, 2010 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

However, thank you, Senator Wyden for your much needed attendance. My wife and I send you our best wishes for your medical concerns.

Speaking of my wife, she was very proud to have talked with you at her store in North Portland, last week.

However, so sad that afterwards she was asked by younger workers about the person to whom she had spoken. When, she replied, "He is Senator Wyden", they, collectively, said "Who?"

Posted by: berttheclock on December 19, 2010 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, DINO is correct. His ad for shooting a hole in the Cap and Trade Bill, won Best Political Ad. There he stood before the voters of WV with a high caliber rifle standing up for their coal dust covered lung rights.

Posted by: berttheclock on December 19, 2010 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

Sometimes a politician just can't give you the full loaf, and you've got to settle for half-a-loaf.

Gays in the military. West Virgina.

Use some sense.

Posted by: A conservative, not a fanatic on December 19, 2010 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

FYI- One would say that Lieberman "worked on Shabbat" or worked on the "Sabbath." Good point on Manchin, but if helps keep that seat in token Democratic hands...

Posted by: Bart on December 19, 2010 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Did anyone think to look in the closet for him?

What better place to hide that a closet when others are voting to allow other people to come out of the closet!
Either that, or a gutless weasel.
Yeah, probably that.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on December 19, 2010 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Conservative: Youre so right (pun intended). It's also why Dick Lugar, fearing the Indiana Teabaggers re his re-election campaign next year, voted no. If Lugar voting no on DADT means no Sen. Coats-clone taking his place in the Senate, I can live with that.

Hoosiers have already confirmed their state's schizzy grasp on reality via the results of the recent midterm elections. Evan Bayh certainly didnt want to deal with it.

Posted by: billyjoe on December 19, 2010 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

It is always disappointing to learn that we're stuck with another sellout Blue Dog for the next 6 years, but I sincerely hope that Manchin finds it somewhat instructive that the people he would have voted with - the GOP - were the same ones making fun of him for his absence.

I wonder if there will actually come a day when the Dem leadership actually enforce the party line like the Republicans so successfully do.

Posted by: Kiweagle on December 19, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder how far away his children and grand-children live. If they are within easy driving or flying distance then it's hard to believe they had year old unbreakable plans.

Posted by: CarlP on December 19, 2010 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Manchin is a creature of your blog, a political animal. He'll triangulate every vote to find the best advantage for his re-election. In this case, "family values" trumps either DADT or DREAM. His opponent this fall kept saying Manchin would be a "Rubber Stamp" for Obama. At the silliest level, his behavior yesterday showed how far he will go to belie this accusation. I'm more and more convinced he has no actual values, rather he sniffs the wind in WV on every issue.

Posted by: Mud on December 19, 2010 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, I rather he stayed home than vote against us.

Posted by: JoeW on December 19, 2010 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Gays in the military. West Virgina. Use some sense.

Yeah, I guess that must explain Jay Rockefeller vote to pass repeal.....

Posted by: sue on December 19, 2010 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Manchin's political influence prompted West Virgina University to grant his daughter, Heather Bresch, a master's degree without completing the necessary course work. Scandal? Barely a whimper. post-gazette dot com, search for Bresch.

Posted by: Nedsteady on December 19, 2010 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Just a stylistic nitpick, you don't say, "The Shabbat", it would be like saying "The Christmas", though perhaps that is technically proper. Anyway, you probably should just say "the Jewish sabbath" or "Shabbat".

Posted by: Alan on December 19, 2010 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

He is one of the reason's we have a majority, even if he caucuses with the rethugs, I'd rather that than a republican senate.Democrats will set the rules this time, and we are aware of republican intransigence.That can be a two edged sword, so we must be careful, however.

Posted by: Michael on December 19, 2010 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Manchin is a gutless wonder and a worthless piece of shit. When you compare the spineless opportunist to his predecessor, he doesn't qualufy as anything. The NRSC is dead on right about this slimy little shithead.

Posted by: TCinLA on December 19, 2010 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

Lieberman, to his credit, had to walk something like five miles or six in pretty frigid, icy conditions to be there. So Manchin is a wimp.

Posted by: lou on December 20, 2010 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK



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