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Joe Manchin, Missed Messages, and 2024

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is preparing to speak at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, at an event put on by a group called No Labels. No Labels puts themselves forward as advocates of centrist policy and reasoned engagement, which one can see would appeal to someone like Joe Manchin. The fact that Sen. Manchin is addressing this group should come as a surprise to no one. His possible announcement of a third-party presidential run, that’s a different story, and it has Democrats spun up; Manchin, if he does this, will surely be placed on the Democrat’s list of arch-demons.

Some Democrats are concerned that Manchin or another candidate boosted by No Labels will launch a third-party bid that could potentially damage President Joe Biden’s re-election chances. No Labels released private polling showing that a third-party candidate would pull more votes away from Biden than from former President Donald Trump in a hypothetical matchup, The Washington Post reported.

“No Labels equals Trump,” said Greg Schneiders, a former aide to President Jimmy Carter. “It is going to affect the race and it is going to affect it negatively for Biden, and it is probably going to elect Donald Trump.”

Manchin’s colleague Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said he wasn’t giving much thought to the third-party group but voiced concern that it could help Republicans in 2024.

Note: When a master dissembler like Chris Murphy claims he “…wasn’t giving much thought to the third-party group,” you know that this is keeping him up nights.

RedState’s own Bonchie pointed out the other day:

What should be more concerning for the far-left is that Manchin has nothing to lose. It looks increasingly unlikely that he’ll run for re-election to the US Senate, given Jim Justice’s entry into the race as a heavy favorite. Presidential campaigns are lucrative on multiple levels. Why wouldn’t Manchin want to jet around the country, presenting himself as the moderate alternative to the two-party system?

That, of course, is another indicator that Manchin may be considering a Presidential run. There is an old saying that there is nothing so dangerous as a man with nothing left to lose, and politically, Joe Manchin is nearing that point. As another RedStater, Becky Noble, points out, Manchin is pretty much finished in West Virginia, and so may be open to a run that will set up a Perot Effect and hand the 2024 POTUS race to the GOP:

Manchin has said about a potential White House run, “Everybody’s getting so worked up and scared to death, and we’re a year and a half away.” The “everybody” in question are his fellow Democrat Senators, and they are plenty worked up. The general consensus among them is summed up by Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), who said, “I have advised him against it. I think it would be a terrible idea. It would help Donald Trump.” Manchin does not appear to be in a rush. Democrats may be sweating for a while.

Democrats will not be sweating very long. The silly season is well under way, candidates are announcing, campaigns are hitting the road. Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are already trading shots, and Joe Biden – or rather, the people who are handling him – are facing down a strong challenge from Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and between President Biden’s ongoing decline and the incompetence (something of an understatement, that) of his VP, any such challenge better be taken seriously.

Still, the fact that Joe Manchin is considering this run isn’t the issue. Why he is considering it is the issue, and Democrats so far are missing that point. It is the ongoing and accelerating leftward drift of the Democratic Party that is driving this possibility – and that is driving a moderate like Manchin to consider an act that will turn the entire Democrat apparatus on him. The Democrats don’t understand this, and it’s liable to cost them.

Politicians of all stripes, candidly, are prone to miss messages.

In Mel Brooks’ hysterically funny 1974 film Blazing Saddles, the movie opens with a scene that has Bart, a disaffected railroad worker, who ends up being the hero of the piece, whacking railroad straw-boss and villain Taggart on the head with a shovel. Taggart is dictating a telegram to a minion when this happens:

“Send a wire to the main office, tell ’em I said (WHACK) OW!” Taggart falls to the ground unconscious.

The minion carefully reads back the message as Bart stares in disbelief:  “Send wire, main office, tell ’em I said ow.  Gotcha.”

Note that the minion, Lyle, recorded the actual text of the message accurately. But he missed the meaning of the message.

The order is slightly mixed up, but that may well be what will happen to the Dems in 2024 if Manchin runs a significant third-party campaign. They will note the literal meaning of the message – that they have lost the election – but they’ll miss the whack on the head from the shovel, that being that the leftward drift of national Democrats has left the door open for Manchin’s run. Why? Because understanding accurately the meaning of that message would mean understanding that they are at fault for their own loss—and accepting blame isn’t something politicians are prone to do.

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