The first claim may be permanent; the second appears more and more temporary.
Accuse a bigot of bigotry and the first words out of his mouth will be "I'm not a bigot."
Accuse a crook like Richard Nixon of dishonesty and it's "I am not a crook."
And, accuse a naive person of naiveté, and his first words are "I'm not naive."
Thanks, Joe Manchin, for helping me prove my point.
Manchin, West Virginia's "Democratic-Republican" senator insists that, despite Mitch McConnell's openly and baldfaced expressed intent to stop every one of President Biden's policies, bi-partisanship is just around the corner. The senator insists that he can rustle up ten Republicans—good men/women and true—to leave the Trumpian dark side and prove him right. He can't name them, nor can he illustrate even the hint of compromise from any of them, but he just knows.
If Senator Manchin is not naive, then the alternatives–more disturbing–must be true. Either he is ignorant of the words uttered around him by colleagues he has known for years, or he is ready to make the leap to the Republican Party and do so officially, not just collaborate with them on important issues.
And I say let him go. He has fashioned himself the most important politician in America these days—given himself outsized importance for no good reason at a time when the country needs fixing. If he wants to be coddled—have him come back when Covid-19 is over and schools are running at 100% and economic reform has alleviated anxiety. Let him go, and if nothing else history will have a name to attach to the downfall of American democracy in the 2020s. It will be Manchin who swung the power to the party that abrogated voting rights, and Manchin who prevented the infrastructure bill from gaining momentum, and Manchin who laid the groundwork for the next Republican presidency whether it be Trump or one of his acolytes.
When leaders can no longer subjugate their own narrow beliefs for the greater good, then they should not be making decisions for hundreds of millions of Americans. Let him be governor if he wants to operate in a political vacuum. The role of senators is by its very nature partisan, and their decisions reach beyond state borders. There may very well be—as early as November of next year—voters in Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, and more who have never heard of Joe Manchin but who will wonder why voting has suddenly become more difficult. They'll be early victims of his naivete.
A governor can screw up a state; a senator can screw up a nation.
This weekend Manchin wrote an editorial for the Charleston Gazette-Mail in which he reminded us that absolute power corrupts absolutely, then—without sensing the irony—went on to clear the path for every Republican senator to defend countless state voting strictures specifically intended to (1) buttress the idea that the 2020 election was stolen and (2) make sure that the minority vote is suppressed for the foreseeable future.
Joe Manchin may not be a crook, and he may not be a bigot, but when he claimed not to be naive, he pretty much gave away the ending