Flowers: Manchin’s only ‘sin’ is that he doesn’t follow Dems’ opinion

Published 1:43 pm Friday, June 18, 2021

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I find it interesting that Democrats are ganging up on Joe Manchin.

It’s not exactly surprising, since the West Virginia senator hasn’t been a team player for a while, despite the fact that he is not now and never will be a Republican. But he is not the kind of Democrat that gets fawned over by mainstream media, because he won’t vilify conservatives.

Manchin voted to impeach Trump, but he respects the folks (many of his own constituents) who voted for the man. He has this cockeyed idea that we can still get along, even though we apparently hate each other. And he’s as clever and crafty as his opponents, most of them Democrats. He just has a folksy manner and a Green Beret’s sense of self-preservation.

I think of him as a cross between Sergeant York and Rambo.

The thing that angers Democrats is that he doesn’t fall in line. If he disagrees, he lets it be known, unlike many in both parties who are lemmings to their respective leaders.

Manchin recently announced that he was not going to vote to eliminate the filibuster, which makes him one of only two Democrats, the other looking to be Kristen Sinema of Arizona, who won’t try and handcuff the GOP. The reason Manchin has consistently given for this is a good one: What goes around comes around, and today’s majority is tomorrow’s vulnerable minority. In other words, if you stuff the Republican elephant today, the Democratic donkey might be the one needing the enema tomorrow. You can quote me on that.

If the reaction to Manchin’s decision were the usual “gosh darn, we sure wish he’d play along and just be a regular guy!” I wouldn’t be writing this column. The GOP and rank-and-file conservatives have been pretty darn vicious when it comes to members who leave the reservation, so to speak. Liz Cheney and Mitt Romney can tell you a few things about that.

But I don’t recall any conservatives calling Cheney or Romney slanderous things like “white supremacist,” which is what a liberal like former ESPN commentator Jemele Hill tweeted out the other day in response to Manchin’s decision to preserve the filibuster:

“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. @Senator Joe Manchin is a clown.”

To be fair, she didn’t actually call him a white supremacist. She called him a clown, cowardly, power-hungry and the worst insult you could call anyone these days: White.

But the implication was there. In refusing to vote to end the filibuster and give Democrats the final say in every damn thing, Manchin became Jemele’s worst nightmare, a throwback to the guys in sheets.

It’s incredibly ironic, since that other guy from West Virginia who the Democrats absolutely loved really did wear white percale, presumably against a backdrop of evening flames. Yes, I’m referring to the late, not-so-great Robert Byrd, who was an actual member of the KKK for years. Eventually, he became one of the first victims of wokeness and apologized for being the racist that he always, apparently, was.

The Democrats have forgiven him, over and over again. Sure, he was a bigot, and sure, he thought that the KKK was a civil rights organization and sure, he wasn’t particularly concerned about the optics of wearing sheets in public, but the Dems just chalk that up to a misspent youth. He was in his twenties when he joined, and older than that when he publicly condemned the group, but why quibble. And we can even forgive him for writing this in a letter to a colleague in 1946, since he did say he was sorry:

“I shall never fight in the armed forces with a negro by my side … Rather I should die a thousand times and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt, never to rise again than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.”

Like I said, he apologized, so all good.

Not so with Manchin. People like Jemele Hill will continue to blather on about how Black people saved democracy just so a bigot like Joe Manchin could destroy it all over again. It couldn’t possibly be because the senator has a mind of his own.

Apparently, being an independent thinker is racist these days.

But being a Klan member is a youthful mistake. The Dems are such a forgiving group, aren’t they?

Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, and can be reached at