Dem 51
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GOP 49
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...So Is Joe Manchin

Right around the time that Brian Kemp was sharing the details of his "brave" stance on Donald Trump, Sen. Joe Manchin (I-WV) was reminding everyone that he, too, is a politician who likes to talk out of both sides of his mouth. He wrote an op-ed last week in which he diagnosed what ails the U.S. political system:

Throughout my time in the US Senate, I have always tried to bring everyone to the negotiating table—such as in passing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Electoral Reform Act and common-sense gun-safety legislation—no matter their political beliefs to find common-sense solutions to America's greatest challenges, including our soaring national debt, the high cost of living for families across the country and the crisis at our southern border.

But it's become clear after my 14 years in Washington, DC, that our national politics are broken and both parties are finding it more difficult to compromise and find any common ground. It's not just me who sees this as a problem: According to a 2023 Pew Research Center survey, 86% of Americans agreed that "Republicans and Democrats are more focused on fighting each other than on solving problems" is a "good description" of our political system.

This is bothsidesism at its worst, since Manchin is strongly implying that both parties are equally responsible for the gridlock in Congress. It's not 100% on the Republicans, but certainly the lion's share of the responsibility lies with the GOP, and has since the days of Newt Gingrich. Manchin has been in Congress for 14 years, and knows this full well, even if he pretends otherwise.

The purpose of the op-ed, apparently, was to goose fundraising for Manchin's Country Roads PAC. He announced that while his PAC previously had given money mostly to Democrats, he would now be giving to Democrats, Republicans and independents at all levels of government who are committed to working across the aisle to get stuff done. For the moment, he's sending some cash to Sen. Angus King (I-ME), Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).

We know what Kemp's game is (see above). We still don't understand what Manchin is doing. If he's planning to extend his political career, he's running out of time to make that decision, since the deadlines for an independent run for governor or U.S. Senate are nigh upon us. And if he doesn't jump in this year, his next opportunity, if he took it, would likely require him to unseat a fairly popular incumbent in Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV).

Maybe he's done with politics, but he isn't done with being in the spotlight, and wants to make sure he continues to get attention for the foreseeable future. Or maybe he sees a lucrative opportunity as the salaried leader of the Country Roads PAC. He's always kept an eye on his own bottom line, so it wouldn't surprise us. (Z)

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