Joe Manchin Plays Political Chess

Joe Manchin has brought the wrath of the political left down upon him after writing in a hometown newspaper on the weekend that he doesn’t support a federal takeover of state voting law and won’t break the Senate filibuster. But the West Virginia Senator is playing political chess—and doing Democrats a favor too.

“This is so on brand for this country. Record number of black voters show up to save this democracy, only for white supremacy to be upheld by a cowardly, power-hungry white dude. @Sen_JoeManchin is a clown,” tweeted Jemele Hill, one of the left’s more nuanced Twitter enforcers.

A sagacious aide to Sen. Dick Durbin used Twitter to say “I don’t think our founding fathers anticipated the survival of this democratic experiment to rest in the hands of a man who lives in a house boat,” as Mr. Manchin apparently does. What’s wrong with house boats? She later deleted her tweet.

Especially obtuse are the progressives tweeting that Senate Democrats should strip Mr. Manchin of his committee assignments. By all means, please do. As the majority maker in a 50-50 Senate, Mr. Manchin could change parties and have his pick of committee seats as a member of the GOP majority. Readers who reached maturity before the Age of Woke recall that James Jeffords, a Vermont Republican, switched parties and made Democrats the majority in a 50-50 Senate in spring 2001.

Mr. Manchin has never been known as a fierce conviction politician. He’s not Rand Paul (R., Ky.) voting to kill the GOP’s ObamaCare reform in 2017 because it wasn’t libertarian pure. Mr. Manchin is a canny operator from a right-leaning state who is trying to navigate between his West Virginia constituents and the bullying demands of the left-wing Democrats who dominate the national party.

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