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Senator Joe Manchin Threatens to Leave the Democratic Party, Then Denies It

Manchin threatens to leave the party. Or does he? Here are the rumors and denials.
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Joe Manchin threatens to leave

Manchin's Exit Plan

On October 20, Mother Jones reported Manchin Tells Associates He’s Considering Leaving the Democratic Party and Has an Exit Plan.

In recent days, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has told associates that he is considering leaving the Democratic Party if President Joe Biden and Democrats on Capitol Hill do not agree to his demand to cut the size of the social infrastructure bill from $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion, according to people who have heard Manchin discuss this. Manchin has said that if this were to happen, he would declare himself an “American Independent.” And he has devised a detailed exit strategy for his departure.

He told associates that he has a two-step plan for exiting the party. First, he would send a letter to Sen. Chuck Schumer, the top Senate Democrat, removing himself from the Democratic leadership of the Senate. (He is vice chair of the Senate Democrats’ policy and communications committee.) Manchin hopes that would send a signal. He would then wait and see if that move had any impact on the negotiations. After about a week, he said, he would change his voter registration from Democrat to independent.

Update: After this article was published, reporters questioned Manchin about it. He replied, “I can’t control rumors, and it’s bullshit, bullshit spelled with a B, U, L, L, capital B.” Mother Jones stands by the story.

Manchin's Changing Story

On October 21, Mother Jones reported Joe Manchin Called Our Reporting “Bullshit.” Now He’s Got a Different Story.

“What is true,” Manchin told The Hill, “is that I have told the president, Chuck Schumer, and even the whole Caucus that if it is ‘embarrassing’ to them to have a moderate, centrist Democrat in the mix and if it would help them publicly, I could become an Independent—like Bernie—and then they could explain some of this to the public saying it’s complicated to corral these two independents, Bernie and me.”

Manchin characterized his offer as an effort that would help Biden and Schumer better explain the different perspectives in their caucus to Democrats.

Manchin’s spin has moved from a complete denial on Wednesday to a yes-but on Thursday, with an explanation that depicts Manchin as a senator generously considering a departure from the Democratic Party only to help Schumer and the other Democrats.

Will He or Won't He?

First things first. We are dealing with politicians, political statements, and second hand allegations on top of it.

Yet, at least parts of the story as presented ring true. 

Q: What parts? 
A: I have no idea.

In other words, I am sure there is something here. But what?

This might conceivably go back to my interpretation of a meeting between Manchin and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Graham Accuses McConnell of Folding Like a Cheap Suit, What Really Happened?

Please recall my October 9 post Graham Accuses McConnell of Folding Like a Cheap Suit, What Really Happened?

Following the vote to temporarily increase the debt ceiling, Lindsey Graham Ripped Mitch McConnell for 'Folding Like a Cheap Suit'

"Looks like Mitch McConnell is folding to the Democrats, again," Trump said in a statement through his leadership PAC, Save America. "He's got all of the cards with the debt ceiling, it's time to play the hand. Don't let them destroy our Country!"

I had a completely different take in Debt Ceiling Crisis Postponed as Democrats Agree to a Temporary Deal

Before allegedly "caving" McConnell met Senator Joe Manchin.

What did McConnell get for agreeing to resolve the debt ceiling? How about this possibility?

A day after meeting McConnell (perhaps coincidence) Manchin Demands Progressives Prioritize

Clear Win

  1. Republicans avoid blame for default.
  2. Ceiling debate postponed not eliminated.
  3. Manchin feuds with Schumer.
  4. Manchin demands Democrats prioritize.
  5. McConnell gives clear notice to Biden that in December the debt ceiling must be via reconciliation 

Manchin told colleagues that progressives need to pick just one of Biden’s three signature policies for helping working families and discard the other two.

Meanwhile it's the Democrats not the Republicans who have splintered. For discussion, please see Senator Kyrsten Sinema Harassed In Bathroom, Biden Says "Part of the Process"

Pieces of the Puzzle

Those are additional pieces of the puzzle. But it is not clear how they fit together or even if they do. 

It's possible there are more pieces than there is puzzle. Some might not fit anywhere. 

It could be happenstance that these details and discussions happened after Manchin met McConnell. 

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Manchin's Denial 

Manchin's first denial seems B, U, L, L, seems reasonable. He appears to be a straight shooter. 

But his later explanation to a yes-but in which he made the offer to the Democratic Party to help Schumer and the other Democrats seems totally absurd.

That part of this convoluted story does not seem reasonable.

Stern "Back Off" Warning

Perhaps the most plausible explanation is this is a big "don't mess with me" message because "I am not changing my demands."

If so, the ball is in the Progressive's court. 

If the Progressives, Nancy Pelosi, AOC, and Biden keep insisting on ideas that Manchin cannot and will not support, perhaps he does leave. 

If so, he will have given ample warning. 

Perhaps Manchin has already made up his mind to leave and is just waiting for the final straw, like another feud with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer or petulant whining from AOC. 

What's Best?

I would like to see Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema leave the Democratic party. 

Neither fits in with the demands the Progressives are making. 

And I am truly fed up with the existing inevitable compromise of more military spending in return for more social spending.

We can afford neither but the compromise always seems to be more of each. 

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At the very least, Sinema ought to issue the same threat as Manchin. 

For discussion, please see Senator Kyrsten Sinema Harassed In Bathroom, Biden Says "Part of the Process"

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