MANCHIN/BYRD COMMENTARY: The word outside of West Virginia illustration. | June 8, 2022

A bold, if lonely, voice

“We thought we knew Senator Robert Byrd: the Prince of Pork, the senator from Big Coal. But in the days since 9/11, the octogenarian statesman from West Virginia has seemingly been transformed. After nearly 50 years in the Senate, and with nothing to lose, Byrd now rails against the mendacity and the militarism of the Bush administration, raising a bold if lonely voice in defense of our civil liberties and our national character.”

~ MOTHER JONES | “The Byrd That Roared” | march/april 2004

Who needs reactioneries?

“… there are the reconciliation bill’s implications for the American welfare state. Just how “unrestrained” is Joe Biden’s proposed social-safety-net expansion? The reconciliation bill would move the U.S. several steps down the road to social democracy, establishing a monthly child allowance, paid family leave, child-care subsidies, an expansion of public health insurance for middle-income Americans, an extension of at-home care for the elderly, and universal prekindergarten, among other things.

And Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema consider this offer such an insult to their values and priorities they’d rather make Biden a failed president than attach their names to it.

With moderates like these, who needs reactionaries?”

~ New York Magazine | “$3.5 Trillion Is Not a Lot of Money” | Sept. 22, 2021

More than he does …

The White House has said they’ve met with Manchin to work out a Build Back Better deal, and Schumer and Manchin met in late April for a closed-door discussion on inflation, NBC News reported. But so far, no deal has emerged, even as the Democrats appear likely to lose control of Congress in November … “[The White House] want it more than he does,” the person close to Manchin told NBC News.

VICE NEWS | “Joe Manchin Wants Democratic Leaders to Keep Guessing What He Wants” | May 9, 2020

A strong check, a vital ally

In Byrd’s view, “Congress’s primary purpose lies in its unique capacity to publicly, and under the hot lights of full media scrutiny, sort through competing interests. Congress alone can deliberate, reconcile, apportion public treasure, and forge laws, compromises, solutions and priorities which are compatible with our general national objectives and which promote the public good.” Putting those beliefs into action, Byrd helped ensure that the Senate would serve both as a strong check on—and a vital ally of—the president.

WASHINGTON MONTHLY | “Remembering Byrd’s Rule” | nov. 17, 2017

Joe Manchin’s real legacy?

What are Manchin’s real motivations? When Baier brought up his ties to the coal industry, including family investments in coal companies, Manchin argued that the country needed “dependability” in its sources of energy. In sinking the bill, he has frustrated efforts to definitively move beyond coal. If the Republicans regain control of Capitol Hill next November, this victory of special interests over the public interest may turn out to be a permanent one. That would be Manchin’s real legacy.

The New Yorker | “Joe Manchin Kills the Build Back Better Bill” | Dec. 19, 2021

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STORY INDEX: A shorthand guide to the stories in out Manchin-Byrd Special Edition, JUNE 8, 2022

EDITORS/NOTE: ‘The Curious, Confounding Case of Joseph Manchin III’:
Our modest effort at Joe-collation and sprawling, sometimes grouchy commentary is not just to belittle the man, alhough there are roundhouse punches and cranky cartoons, but to appeal in dire days to what’s left of the better angels of Joe Manchin’s nature. Unless they’ve been laid off due to inflation. His — into the Prime Minister of America.

INTRODUCTION: Is Joe Manchin the Anti-Byrd?:
However complicated his life, Robert C. Byrd left a legacy of accomplishment that benefited the state and nation. His career’s end game also set the example of what a senator looks like when they object to America running off the rails. So, a key question about Joseph Manchin III: Is he the Anti-Byrd? Or can he finally rise to the occasion and help rescue the Biden Administration in the midterms?

FIRST/PERSON: Traveling West Virginia’s backroads in the Byrdmobile:
J. MICHAEL WILLARD: “I once worked for a man who had been an Exalted Cyclops in the Ku Klux Klan — and I’m proud of it. Not because he was a Klan member more than three-quarters of a century ago, but because of what he became afterward …”

REFLECTIONS: Ted Boettner on “Status Quo Joe”:
“I don’t think Manchin thinks there is anything fundamentally wrong with business as usual and that the inequality we see today is just and acceptable. Byrd, at least partly, seemed to believe in a higher purpose beyond himself. I don’t see that with Manchin, who seems mostly motivated by financial interests and political gamesmanship.”

Q&A: Author Denise Giardina on comparing Byrd and Manchin
Byrd had “a quality that is too rare in human beings: the ability to continue to learn and grow over time.” With Manchin, “it’s a story as old as Greek tragedy — hubris, hubris, center of attention, power, power, money, money.”

FIRST/PERSON: Lessons learned from the Roman to the U.S. Senate
MARK FERRELL: “A big part of his identity in Washington was being a poor, orphaned son of the Appalachian coalfields, largely self-educated, who rose through the ranks to the world’s most august deliberative body and could match wits with any man in Washington of privileged background and Ivy League pedigree.”

MANCHIN/BYRD COMMENTARY: The word outside of West Virginia
“Byrd rails against the mendacity and militarism of the Bush administration, raising a bold if lonely voice in defense of our civil liberties and national character …”| When confronted by his coal industry ties, “Manchin argued the country needed ‘dependability’ in its sources of energy. In sinking the bill, he has frustrated efforts to definitively move beyond coal.”

CARTOONERY: Black By God acidly sketches Joe Manchin’s life & times
‘BLACK BY GOD: The West Virginian’ revives a potent tradition in the state — the zinger, draw-truth-to-power editorial cartoon and Joe Manchin has been a favorite zingee of this “storytelling organization centering Black voices from the Mountain State.”

MANCHIN/BYRD COMMENTARY: The word inside of West Virginia
“Assuming Manchin does not come home to his party on Build Back Better, voting rights, and Roe (a safe assumption at this point), he’ll have lost many more votes on his left side than he could ever hope to pick up on his right … If he doesn’t come back to his own party in really stunning fashion soon, you can expect Joe Manchin will be driving his Maserati to K street, instead of the Capitol, come 2025.”

HEY JOE’: Harmonically urging Joe to take climate action
In late 2021, a harmonic convergence of West Virginians came together on the statewide music video “Hey Joe,” urging Joe Manchin to take decisive action on the climate crisis.

DOGGEREL:’ The Ballad of Bobby & Joe’
‘Joe turns out to be, right now, / the guy who stops all bills, / to bring more billions back to West Virginia / and its rolling hills. / And maybe there’s a Byrd somewhere / who’s spinning in its grave, / as Joe keeps sucker-punching bills / the world needs to be saved …’

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