Who on Capitol Hill is Allowed to Whine

The Political Playbook of Tuesday, January 25, 2022 includes a lengthy description of how Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s leadership strategy has led to considerable simmering among Democrats.

Reporters Rachel Bade and Tara Palmeri spoke with a half-dozen Democratic staffers in both houses of Congress Monday night and heard frustration with how Schumer and other Democratic leaders are treating Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).

Apparently, Manchin continues to be furious at how he has been treated. Other Democrats are now upset with Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others for having stated the obvious. For either the Build Back Better Act or the Voting Rights Acts to have passed, the votes of both Manchin and Sinema were needed. Obviously, that didn’t happen with the voting rights proposals and a Senate vote on BBB has been indefinitely postponed because of a lack of affirmative votes.

In an earlier iteration of Manchin saying that he would not vote to change the filibuster rule, he implied on Fox News Sunday that the Biden Administration was not working respectfully enough with him. It may indeed be possible that some staff members in the White House were expressing their exasperation with Manchin either to him directly or to outside sources.

Manchin and Sinema are entitled to view issues differently than the other 48 members of the Senate Democratic caucus. What they don’t have a right to do is to get upset with other Democrats who have increasingly been frustrated with them.

Had Manchin and Sinema joined the other 48:

  1. Two voting rights bills would have passed and the discriminatory election and voting laws that Republicans have passed in nineteen states would either be negated, or involved in court cases, the types of which the federal government has traditionally won.
  2. The Build Back Better Act would be law meaning child tax credits would be expanded, there would be child care subsidies, free universal preschool, health care subsidies, paid family leave and a host of other provisions that would help families and bring the American economic and social safety web closer to those in other industrial countries.
  3. President Biden’s popularity would be much higher and the prospects for Democrats in the 2022 and 2024 elections would be much better.

Who could blame Democrats for being upset that these two senators have greatly damaged their party politically, and deprived the country of perhaps the two most necessary pieces of legislation currently being considered?

Manchin could whine and pout about how he is being treated, but other Democrats were not entitled to express frustration over how two senators are using antiquated rules to hold the country hostage.

Strictly speaking, the reporting in of Bade and Palmeri is accurate. Democrats other than Manchin and Sinema are expressing their frustration with other Democrats. But the reporting is not in context, with inclusion of how Manchin and Sinema set off a chain of bad feelings within the party.

It seems that the two wayward Democratic senators have the same privilege as Mitch McConnell and essentially the entire Republican caucus. They can speak of hurt feelings as if they are righteous victims and have been unjustly attacked, while other Democrats cannot say “ouch” for fear of being called wimps. The press needs to take a leading role in not perpetuating this unfair and false equivalency.