We recently marveled at the stupidity of the Biden White House's decision to assail Sen. Joe Manchin over his decision to oppose the multi-trillion-dollar 'Build Back Better' monstrosity. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell then pronounced himself similarly mystified. As McConnell and other top GOP figures have sought to woo Manchin to switch parties, Team Biden is insisting that they're actually working to pick up the pieces and possibly tackle a significantly altered bill in the new year. If they truly intend to mend fences and keep Manchin within the fold, having the president lie about the West Virginian is probably, shall we say, sub-optimal. After his COVID speech on Wednesday, Biden fielded a few questions, and quickly got defensive about his administration's COVID response. This is my summary of the crux of the deserved criticism:
Major Biden WH COVID failure: Elements *within their control* aren’t where they ought to be this deep into the pandemic (which he pledged to ‘shut down’). Test shortages, long waits for booster appointments, no OWS effort on effective treatments…We should be in a better place.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) December 21, 2021
BIDEN: "...and Joe (Manchin) went on TV today, uh, (I don't know) whether it's TV or not, I'm told he was speaking to the Liberal Caucus in the House and said, 'Joe Biden didn't mislead you, I misled you.'" pic.twitter.com/O21nnLsvE2— Jorge Bonilla (@BonillaJL) December 21, 2021
"If Manchin did not tell House progressives 'I misled you,' as Biden claims here, how angry is Manchin right now?" National Review's John McCormack immediately wondered. I felt it was extremely unlikely that Manchin would have said anything like that, especially because the Senator was very transparent about his concerns and red lines over the course of months. Attempting to pass the blame buck to Manchin, and again effectively calling him a liar -- this time, basically inventing a confession -- seemed like another unforced presidential error. Sure enough, the clean-up brigade soon followed:
After Biden said today that Manchin "was speaking to a liberal caucus in the House and said 'Joe Biden didn't mislead you, I misled you,'" the White House follows up: "The President wanted to clarify that Senator Manchin did not characterize himself as having been ‘misleading.'— Kevin Liptak (@Kevinliptakcnn) December 21, 2021
Another amazing performance from the multi-decade Beltway veteran. For what it's worth, Manchin joined a Democratic conference call on BBB, which his aides described as respectful. And Axios is reporting that if -- and it's a huge if -- Manchin decides he's no longer a fit within the Democratic Party, his next move would perhaps be to become an independent, not a Republican. Finally, as Senate Democrats shift to other priorities, they're already grasping at straws on moves that would require ending the legislative filibuster. Senators Manchin and Sinema are openly opposed to this, with other Democrats reportedly uncomfortable with doing so. This metric is meaningless:
“A path to 48” https://t.co/cpGbrrTJRb— Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) December 21, 2021
The 2022 elections will be important to ensure that Democrats are pushed back into the minority because they're making clear that if they manage to gain seats, they have a growing appetite for moving forward with a host of norms- and institutions-destroying power grabs, in the name of norms and institutions, of course.