Cable star trashes Senator Manchin!


Truly, it doesn't get dumber: Today, let's start with some political facts about the state of West Virginia.

In presidential campaigns, the state was reliably Democratic right through 1996. Dating back through FDR's four elections, West Virginia only went Republican during major national landslides, and sometimes not even then.

West Virginia voted for Humphrey in 1968, rejecting Candidate Nixon. It voted for Jimmy Carter both times, even against Reagan in 1980. It voted for Dukakis in 1988. After that, it voted for Clinton both times.

The state flipped to red in 2000, and it has never looked back. On that first (disastrous) occasion, we understood that the flip was largely connected to NRA ads about guns.

That's what we understood. But George W. Bush's winning margin in West Virginia was a mere six points that year. Four years later, in 2004, the Republican margin in the state grew to 13 points.

That advantage has never diminished. Obama lost the state by 13 points in 2008, by 27 points in 2012. And after that, the deluge! Donald J. Trump won the state each time by an astonishing margin:

Presidential elections, West Virginia
2016: Trump 67.9%;  Clinton 26.5%
2020: Trump 68.6%; Biden 29.7%

Trump beat Clinton by 41 points. Four years later, he beat Biden by 39. 

We'd love to see a full discussion of this remarkable shift in this state's political alignment. But our point today is somewhat different. Our point today is this:

Senate elections, West Virginia
2012: Joe Manchin (D) 60.6%; John Raese (R) 36.5% 
2018: Joe Manchin (D) 49.6%; Patrick Morrissey (R) 46.3%

Joe Manchin didn't win by much in 2018, during his state's remarkable shift to Trump.

No, he didn't win by much, but he did hold on. And if he hadn't managed to do that, Mitch McConnell would still be running a Republican-majority Senate. 

At least in theory, liberals, progressives and Democrats wouldn't be happy with that.

Sad but true! Given the current conservative tilt of "Senate math," and given the rise of partisan polarization, it's currently very hard for Democrats to gain control of the Senate. It's hard for Dems to amass a Senate majority—even a "majority" of 50 members out of 100.

How hard is it for Dems to control the Senate? Consider a few basic facts:

Last November, Biden won the nationwide popular vote by a margin our cable stars like to describe as a "landslide." In this way, our cable stars dumb us down, gaining short-term advantage in corporate earnings and personal salary enhancements.

That said, how they do dumb us down!  With respect to the current topic, our basic point would be this:

Even in winning the popular vote by 4.4 percentage points, Biden won only 25 states. And it gets even worse than that:

Biden managed to win the four states where the margins were closest (Georgia, Wisconsin, Arizona, Pennsylvania). And the margins were very close in those states. Overall, the winning margin in those four states was well under one percent.

It gets even worse than that. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the nationwide popular vote by 2.1 points. But good God! In the course of winning the popular vote, she won only 20 states!

These numbers suggest an obvious point. Even in years when Democrats hold a 2-5 point advantage nationwide, the alignments of the fifty states would tend to place as many as 60 Republicans in the Senate. 

With a very slight shift in the political winds, Biden could have won a three-point nationwide victory while winning only 21 states! Even while winning the popular vote, he very easily could have lost 29 states—and each of our fifty states sends two people to the Senate.

Under our current system, it's very hard for Democrats to gain control of the Senate. To do so, they have to have the occasional political miracle worker—the Joe Manchin who can hold on in West Virginia, the Jon Tester in Montana.

(In 2016 and 2020, Donald J. Trump won Montana by 20.4 and 16.4 points. In 2018, Tester held on in the face of a furious onslaught, winning re-election by 3.5 points.)

Do we think it's easy for a Democrat to win a Senate seat in a state like West Virginia—in a state which twice elected Trump by 40-point margins? Even a star like Claire McCaskill couldn't hold on in Missouri last time. They sent us Josh Hawley instead!

Do we think it's easy to win in West Virginia? Plainly, our corporate-selected multimillionaire cable stars do! Or did you fail to watch Rachel Maddow's ridiculous performance this past Wednesday night?

Maddow is highly skilled at "selling the car;" it's her one spectacular attribute. At long last, it ought to be said that she's also dumb as a rock and a true believer—a hopeless self-adoring performer who persistently dumbs us down in the course of helping us learn to adore her more completely and fully.

On Wednesday, Maddow unloosed a cri de coeur concerning Manchin's announcement that he wouldn't vote to confirm Neera Tanden as head of the OMB.  Along the way, she played every one of Our Town's sillier race / gender cards.

(By that, we mean that she made insinuations and charges about racism and sexism which she made no attempt to support or sustain. This is one of the major ways we manufacture Trump voters.)

We'll wait until Monday to show you what the multimillionaire corporate cable star said. But will the time ever come when we in Our Town decide to stop buying this car?

Way back when, this silly star played this same game, though less politely in certain ways, with respect to Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire). 

At that time, New Hampshire was a tougher state for Democrats than it is at present. Maddow showed no sign of understanding the way so basic a facts might affect the way national politics works as she bashed and trashed the vile "conservaDem" solon.

Wednesday night, it was Manchin's turn. Will the time ever come when we decide to stop buying the car this star sells?

Rachel Maddow's list of clown shows is extremely long. That said, Maddow is extremely good at "selling the car"—at her "performance of the Rachel figure," to quote Janet Malcolm in The New Yorker. 

Maddow is skilled at selling the car, and the model he sells is The Maddow. Meanwhile, she's too popular to be critiqued by Our Town's career liberal journalists, many of whom know how dumb her performances frequently are. 

Maddow's show gets dumber and dumber, and more and more pointless, as the years roll by. Here in Our Town, we're too busy attacking the dumbness of The Others to see the way this utterly stupid corporate game actually works.

Manchin found a way to hang on in 2018. If he hadn't found a way to hang on, Mitch McConnell would still be running the Senate today.

The current tilt in Senate math is very bad for Dems. At this site, we're hoping and praying that Manchin can find a way to hang on at least one more time, when he runs in 2024.

Manchin saved us from Leader McConnell. Does Our Town's self-adoring corporate darling understand this most basic of all basic facts?

Monday: Most pitiful cable speech ever?


  1. "No, he didn't win by much, but he did hold on. And if he hadn't managed to do that, Mitch McConnell would still be running a Republican-majority Senate."

    This is true of every single Democratic senator who ran for reelection in 2020 and won. That includes 10 senators. It is also true for those who ran for the first time and won. That includes 5 more senators. If any of them had lost instead of won, the Senate would now be Republican controlled.

    Are they all beyond criticism now because of their victories? Shall we treat them all as saviors? Does it matter whether they won, if they are not going to vote with the Democratic majority?

    In order to govern with a majority, the Democrats need to make sure their party members stick with them on key votes. That is what Maddow and other cable news pundits are talking about. When cable news focuses on Shaheen or Manchin and pressure is put on them, they are being given cover to vote Democratic on an issue that their constituents might question. The pressure makes it safe for them to BE Democrats because they can point to it when discussing their choice locally. If there were no national pressure, they would have no excuse not to vote their constituents wishes, and as Somerby notes, those are now Republican. Maddow's focus is helping, not hurting, these candidates in red states.

    Somerby knows this, if he knows anything about Manchin. He is just being an ass and using the opportunity to bash Maddow, someone he appears to hate for unclear reasons. The more successful she is, the more he attacks her. It may be personal with him, or it may be part of his marching orders as a fake-liberal influencer paid to sow dissent among Democrats.

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  2. "The current tilt in Senate math is very bad for Dems."

    It could be worse and Republicans could still be in control of the Senate. Only Somerby can take a victory and turn it into sour grapes.

  3. "But good God! In the course of winning the popular vote, she won only 20 states!"

    Somerby has never admitted the role of Russia and Comey in Clinton's defeat. She lost by 70,000 votes across three previously Democratic states. Analysis showed that her loss was due to suppression of Democratic votes, affected by such things as Bernie Bros voting for write-in or 3rd party candidates and African Americans staying home. This was abetted by a social media campaign aimed specifically at those voters, paid for and conducted by Russia. If Comey had not delivered his October surprise there would have been no drop in her polling and no opportunity for such a close outcome and she would have won the electoral college, as well as the popular vote.

    Somerby continues to pretend it was bad campaigning on Clinton's part, while the forces against her were unprecedented. Because Trump won, there has not been a full investigation of his collusion with Russia or of the interference in that election.

    In contrast, Al Gore lost because he was a bad campaigner, something Somerby also fails to acknowledge as he complains about the media. The media went far easier on Gore than it did on Hillary Clinton, but Somerby blames it for Gore's defeat while ignoring its impact on Hillary, blaming her instead.

    Somerby is unreliable on these subjects.

    1. "she won only 20 states!"

      Somerby knows very well that it isn't the number of states but the number of electoral votes a candidate wins that matters. Hillary won populous states with large numbers of electoral votes (NY, CA). The purpose of the electoral college is to give small states with small populations more of a chance to influence the outcome of the election, which is what happened.

      Somerby won't acknowledge this either, but the institution of the electoral college was a compromise to appease the slave-holding states who feared they might be out-numbered and slavery ended without some counterbalance to the more populous Northern abolitionist states.

  4. "Does Our Town's self-adoring corporate darling understand this most basic of all basic facts?"

    As near as I can tell, Maddow is no more of a corporate darling than any more cable news host. They all work for corporate owners and sponsors. Why single Maddow out?

  5. "How hard is it for Dems to control the Senate?"

    C'mon, dear Bob, the answer is obvious. We know it and you know it: more mail-in ballots.

    And that's all there is to it. Why waste so many pixels?

  6. Facts tell a different story. The mail-in ballots were evenly split between the parties across states.

    1. Mao cheng goebbelsMarch 6, 2021 at 11:33 AM


    2. Try this:

  7. From Rawstory: "Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) was surprised by Manchin's move as West Virginia's GOP governor had urged Congress to go bigger on relief."

    So, his Republican colleague from WV was on board with the Relief bill, as was the Republican governor of WV, but Manchin is not! How does Somerby account for that?

    According to reports, Biden and Schumer have offered concessions to Manchin to vote for the bill. That means he is negotiating benefits for his state and presumably enhancing his own position within the Senate, in exchange for his vote. That is how the process works.

    However, one of the Republican senators has had to leave congress for family reasons, which reduces the Republican votes and makes Manchin's vote moot. That may change Manchin's bargaining position.

    It does bother me to see senators using their leverage to hold up an important bill this way, with provisions that are urgently needed to address the pandemic and relieve suffering. It appears selfish and I would be disinclined to vote again for someone who would do that.

    But Somerby is being disingenuous when he asks how Manchin holds on to his Senate seat. Obviously, he uses his position to bring home the bacon for his state.

  8. “Way back when, this silly star played this same game, though less politely in certain ways, with respect to Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire).”

    Whatever happened “way back when”, apparently it didn’t matter. Shaheen won her third term last fall with 56.7% of the vote.

    And on what planet is criticism from Rachel Maddow a net negative for someone like Manchin from a very red state?? It could plausibly be a plus for him.

    Somerby spent a hell of a lot of time raking Elizabeth Warren over the coals in very unpleasant ways, attacking her for her “Native American” controversy and also passing along, without critique, an attack piece about her health care plan complaining about the cost. And if she had lost in 2018, one could go through the same silly mental exercise as Somerby did with Manchin and assume all other events would turn out exactly the way they did, which would mean that the Senate would now be in Republican hands.

    So Somerby, the paragon of politeness, is saying what: that no one, particularly progressives, should criticize conservative Democratic Senators from red states?

    I’m all for including a wide variety of views in the Democratic Party. In other words, the current Democratic Party.

    But the implication here, to me, is that voters in WV must not be ready to accept Bernie-style Democratic Socialism if Manchin thinks he needs to whittle down stimulus checks and oppose the minimum wage increase in a state whose Governor even supported the larger checks.

  9. Kevin Drum says: "And yet, an awful lot of progressives have insisted on on absolutely reaming Manchin and Sinema for their (admittedly sometimes performative) objections to the bill."

    So, he is suggesting that the objections to the bill expressed by Manchin and Sinema are insincere. When the progressives attack Manchin, it helps him with his back home constituents because it makes him look less like a Democrat and more like someone who is holding the line on things they care about. It is win-win for Manchin. Of course his objections are "performative." Their purpose is to reassure his red state supporters that he is not too liberal for their votes.

    Lately, Marjorie Taylor Greene has been introducing motions to adjourn which delay House proceedings and interfere with business on both sides of the aisle. Her own party members are pissed at her for that. This too is "performative" in the sense that she doesn't want to delay anything and her motions serve no purpose, other than to reassure her supporters that she is still able to shake things up and annoy the libs, despite being on no committees. It isn't like her constituents want her to actually achieve anything. Her role is to mess up the government, just like Trump and all of his appointees.

    Actions only make sense in relation to motives and goals.

  10. As this have turned out, the bill would have passed with or without Manchin, but he did support it:

    "President Joe Biden’s popular American Rescue Plan passed the U.S. Senate on Saturday by a vote of 50 to 49, with zero votes from the Republican side of the aisle.

    Alaska GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan had to leave town for a family emergency, so only 49 Republicans were available for the final vote. This eliminated the need for a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris."

    Is it "performative" when Republicans vote in solidarity to deny their constituents important relief during a pandemic? Or is it just a bad faith exercise in political power instead of governance? Why is it bad when Democrats are "performative" but good when Republicans are "performative"?

    I think it is time to retire the word "performative" altogether. It seems to be another of those conservative memes that are only used to chastise liberals, but turn out to have no substance when examined seriously.

  11. Here, dear Bob, for your reading pleasure, real, straightforward media criticism, of one of your goebbelsian dembots:

    Compare it to your typical 'self-conscious dembot' M.O.: 'The Others are crazy and we liberal zombies may be somewhat imperfect'. Will ya?

  12. Bob's argument only works if you look at the extreme short term.


    Democrats are unable to grow their party base because they don't deliver on substance and are too ideologically right wing.

    - Losing to Reagan while trying to flank him from the right
    - 8 years of George Bush after gaining no supporters in the 90s, killing a million people in Iraq with much Dem support
    - Relying on marketing and charisma to put Obama in office
    - Losing to Trump because of Obamacare's weaknesses
    - Electing Biden who can't deliver on his campaign promises because of clouted members of his own party such as Shaheen (almost 200k dollars in donations from Nursing homes and hospitals to block the minimum wage)

    If Biden's poll numbers start dropping he deserves it

    1. Lots of facts contradict your list:

      1. Gore won in FL (and the electoral college and popular vote) and only lost the election because he didn't demand a recount. Bush won because his brother was Gov of FL.

      2. Gore lost some Clinton supporters because he ran away from Clinton's accomplishments, not on them.

      3. Obama did grow the Democratic base. His treatment of Hillary lost him some female voters and, of course, all the racial bigots.

      4. Of all the reasons why Trump won, Obamacare wasn't one of them.

      5. Biden is already delivering on his promises and Senators like Shaheen and Manchin are supporting his bills. Minimum wage didn't have a chance in that bill.

      Any president who starts out with nearly 70% favorability is going to drop in the polls over time. Biden already has higher favorability than Trump at any time during his presidency. I believe Trump never broke 50%.

      I might agree that Dems are too right wing, but your evidence is bogus.

    2. From Palmer Report:

      "What is unfathomable to me is the venom with which some people are attacking those in their party. It isn’t comforting. And frankly, I saw this back in 2008 when Obama took office. I saw it not two weeks after Obama assumed the Presidency. I remember the comments and conversations. This, mind you, was 14 days after he’d become the President.

      Some people do not like Biden and never wanted him in office, and these people are not all the far right. Without naming names, I have seen some well-known individuals who call themselves Democrats engaging in the “Biden let us down” mantra. Many of these same people say things like, “Bernie would have done it by now.” That is frankly poppycock. Bernie was never going to win. Many people do not like the term “Socialist,” plus some of his views were too extreme for mainstream American voters."

      Bernie supporters were as guilty of spreading anti-Hillary memes as the conservatives were. Here @4:08 repeats attack points against Biden and Democrats that could have come from the right-wing as easily as from a Bernie progressive.

      This idea that Democrats are huge failures because they are too conservative whereas Bernie could have gotten things done, is wrong and I agree with Palmer that it can hurt us going into 2022. Like the Republicans, many Bernie supporters don't care about damaging Democratic prospects in their quest to get their own way. I think they need to rethink that approach or they will bury their own hopes along with those of the Democrats in general.

      Manchin can be a spoiler, but so can progressives who are unwilling to compromise for the greater good.

    3. The minimum wage can be passed with Kamala Harris raising her hand. It's the least uncertain thing in politics right now. Unable to budge for the greater good.

      Yes Bush stole Florida but it's easiest to steal a close election, which it was. No base growth under Clinton.

      No, it's not incorrect to cite Obamacare as a reason Trump won. It was a major talking point and showed up in the transcripts of voters.

      Obama did gain voters but many were quickly lost after he didn't deliver on substance. A public option would have fixed that. In other words, being less conservative.

    4. Democrats did very, very poorly in the latest Congressional races. While narrowly winning the presidency, the party actually lost seats in the House and failed in its bid to take control of the Senate. I guess people just were not that excited about them.

    5. "The minimum wage can be passed with Kamala Harris raising her hand."

      It cannot be passed with two Senators voting against it. There are at least that many opposed to it. You do not hold a vote that you know you will lose.

      Hillary ran to the left of Obama in the 2008 primaries. Bernie and his bros did not support her.

      There was no "base growth" after Clinton because Gore chose to run away from Clinton's achievements, and because he put Liberman on his ticket. The "performative" impeachment may have hurt him too. It wasn't that people disliked the 8 years of improvement in their lives.

    6. Bernie would have lost in a landslide.

    7. 1. The Clintons literally kicked out single payer organizers from their meetings. Nobody felt the effect of what they passed either. It didn't register. Read voter testimony. People just thought Clinton was a nice guy.

      2. Two of the senators signaled that they were open to a wage hike but didn't want to go against the parliamentarian alone, one senator Sheehan wanted some reimbursements for specific industries. This was salvageable.

      In effect it was lack of leadership from Biden that killed the wage hike.

      Here I'll give you direct quotes.

      Here's Joe Manchin saying the president has his back:
      > "My only vote is to protect the Byrd Rule: hell or high water," Manchin said in an interview with CNN last week. "Everybody knows that. I'm fighting to defend the Byrd Rule. The president knows that."

      Jon Tester:
      > Well, look, I have supported a minimum wage increase in the past. And I think that the debate we're going to have on the minimum wage, if it ends up in the package by the way — and we still don't know if the parliamentarian is going to see it pass the Byrd bath or not.

    8. Senator Shaheen*

    9. Democrats lost votes because some wanted to "defund the police."
      The lesson: Don't start at the compromise position.

    10. Biden never said he wanted to defund police. That was a right-wing smear. Republicans did their best to portray Biden and all other Dems as AOC-style Socialists who were going to do any number of bad things if elected. They don't tell the truth about Democratic candidates. Bernie Bros do everyone a disservice when they repeat the right's talking points. It then becomes impossible to tell the progressive extremists apart from Russian propaganda and Republican disinformation. The progressives need to grow some loyalty to their left fellow travelers and stop attacking the Democratic party.

      No matter how much I might support single payer or minimum raise hikes, I would not support Bernie or anyone like him because of the way the Bros treated Hillary and the way they have been attacking the Democratic party (DNC). If you don't understand party loyalty and compromise, you are not going to win anything except an occasional local office or isolated House seat (as AOC has done). She is untenable beyond her district because she is too extreme to win at a state level.

      I read that there were at least 12 Senators against raising the minimum wage to $15 and the leadership abandoned it in order to move the relief bill through faster. It wasn't about the parliamentarian.

    11. Change campaign donation laws and you'll have a lot more freedom to choose your politician.

      The country has favored single payer since the 1990s. Aoc is just democratic.

    12. 1:53,
      Replace the sexual predators on the Supreme Court with those who favor voting rights, and you'll have a lot more freedom to choose your politicians.

      Fixed it for you.

  13. Eight senators line up exactly behind the president, following the tribe, and this blog celebrates it as a difference of opinion.

    Upside down..

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  15. I would disagree that the problem in these states are the result of national Democrats. Rather, it is a reflection of the people of these states. To win them, should our candidates sound like Donald Trump? I don't think so.

    1. It's almost as if Democrats spent a decade telling voters the Republican position on crime is correct and voters believe them.

    2. It is a mistake for younger people, who didn't live through the 1990s, to underestimate the drug-related and gang-related crime during that time period. Kevin Drum attributes it to lead, but most other people attribute it to the rise of the cartels and a strong demand for drug consumption in the US. Crime was real and that dictated the Democratic party position, not Republicans. This attitude is like saying that today's opioid epidemic is not real and hurting people's lives, and addressing it is just a political ploy. Not all drugs are as benign as marijuana.

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