Patterico's Pontifications


Oh, This Is Getting Good! Nancy Pelosi Issues Challenge to Joe Manchin

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:40 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Did you think the Democrats might have stopped to analyze what went wrong last night and decided to dial back some of their more radical spending plans and their my-way-or-the-highway attitude? Nah.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi informed Democratic lawmakers Wednesday that a paid leave provision will be added back into President Biden’s social spending bill, a decision that could draw the ire of moderate holdouts, including Sen. Joe Manchin, W-Va.

The proposal set to be included in the legislation outlines four weeks of paid leave. Paid leave was scrapped from previous versions of the bill amid opposition from Manchin and others who raised concerns about the cost of expanded social programs.

[. . .]

Manchin was critical of the paid leave proposal in recent weeks, arguing the reconciliation process that will allow Democrats to pass the spending bill by a simple majority vote should not be used to implement that program. Other Democrats, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, pushed Manchin to reconsider his opposition to the proposal.

The West Virginia Democrat has also asserted that a significant expansion of social programs would be fiscally irresponsible due to expected shortages in funding for Social Security and Medicare in the coming years. He has called for any paid leave program to include a work requirement.

[. . .]

Manchin indicated to reporters Wednesday that he was unaware Democratic leaders intended to add the paid leave plan back into the spending bill.

“That’s a challenge, very much of a challenge, and they know how I feel about that,” Manchin said.

As currently written the bill stands at $1.75 trillion in spending (the Dems’ estimate, not that of the Congressional Budget Office which is still studying the legislation), or a quarter-trillion dollars over what Sen. Manchin told Sen. Schumer he would be willing to support this past summer. Adding family leave back into the mix would have to bump up the price tag, perhaps by as much as another quarter trillion or thereabouts, so if Sen. Manchin were to swallow hard and vote for this travesty how could he not come off as having been entirely emasculated by Madam Speaker?

The House could vote on this new version of Build Back Better as early as tomorrow, and I am very interested in seeing if there are vulnerable Democrats in the lower chamber who refuse to throw themselves on their swords for the glories of progressivism. Going to have to pop some popcorn for this one.


The Left Analyzes What Happened Last Night

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:12 pm

[guest post by JVW]

It ranges from gross outrage to sad resignation. Here’s a sampling of what left-wing opinion-makers have to say this morning:

Over at Mother Jones, Isabela Dias writes a pretty straightforward recap of the race which would not have been out of place at the New York Times or Washington Post. Naturally she can’t help but repeat the tired canard that critical race theory isn’t being taught in Virginia schools, which is the latest highly-misleading but oft-repeated talking point of the progressive education establishment. This race angle is hammered home in a piece by Nathalie Baptiste which was published yesterday afternoon before results were in but already at the point when the chattering classes seemed to realize that Mr. McAuliffe was in for a rough evening. It posits that the Glenn Youngkin campaign was about nothing more than racial resentments, which is exactly what you would expect the woke left to conclude.

Harold Myerson, an avowed socialist and editor at The American Prospect, is of the school that Dems lost badly because they didn’t deliver enough pork from Washington to inspire independents (though I still haven’t seen polls which suggest that independents support the Dems’ tax-and-spend orgy). He repeats the mantra that critical race theory is not taught in Virginia schools, good little leftist that he is (it should also be noted that this month’s cover story in The American Prospect is about the nasty right-wing is blocking CRT because we don’t want to be held accountable for America’s past sins). He does credit the governor-elect for his deftness in keeping Donald Trump at arms-length while managing to hold on to the former President’s support, and he suggests that Mr. Youngkin, who was nominated in a caucus dominated by party insiders, would likely have lost to a far more Trumpian candidate had Virginia Republicans held a primary election. Mostly, Mr. Myerson places the blame for the Democrats’ poor showing last night at the feet of Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats (but pretty much exclusively those who have trepidation about the party’s massive spending agenda), and asserts that bold spending initiatives are how the donkey party needs to mount their comeback.

Over at The Atlantic, Zachary Carter takes one of the more nuanced and least partisan positions on what happened in Virginia. He acknowledges that education was indeed the Achilles’ Heel for Terry McAuliffe and other Virginia Democrats yesterday, and that it wasn’t just mean ol’ Republican parents who have soured on the education establishment, so heavily supported by Democrat politicians [as usual, bolded emphasis added by me]:

The most important data point for the election is public-school enrollment in Northern Virginia, and it’s very bad for Democrats. Fairfax County, the largest county in the state, has lost more than 10,000 students since the start of the pandemic—a decline of about 5 percent. In neighboring Arlington County, the dropoff is 3.9 percent; in Loudoun County, it’s 3.4 percent. Those may look like modest declines, but they should not be happening in prosperous counties where the population is growing quickly. The public schools in all three counties have a reputation for quality. People move there for the schools. (Some of the influx into those areas can be chalked up to white flight from D.C. and other suburbs—particularly in Loudoun—but a lot of it can’t. Northern Virginia is a pretty diverse place.)

[. . .]

Conservative political activists want these issues to prove that “wokeness” is unpopular and that an anti-woke backlash will bring Republican salvation not only in Virginia, but across the country. The truth is a bit more complex. Polling suggests that there is something of an anti-woke backlash taking place, but the right has settled on K–12 schools as the epicenter of its narrative for a reason: A lot of suburban parents lost faith in Virginia’s public schools over the past year, and as a result, they’re more open to conservative narratives about problems in public schools.

I grew up in Northern Virginia and attended Northern Virginia public schools and was back in Northern Virginia from March of 2020 until September 2021. Anecdotally, I’ve never heard so much anti-teacher sentiment in the region as I did during the pandemic. Every parent I talked to had at least one horror story, and I mostly talked to affluent, upwardly mobile, pro-public-goods liberals.

The good news for Democrats is that education is only narrowly beating out the economy as the top issue for Virginia voters, and that McAuliffe came close, despite running a clueless and lethargic campaign. [. . .]

But I wouldn’t put a lot of money on a turnaround. Barring a wild new development over the next year, Democrats should expect to lose Virginia’s Second, Seventh and Tenth Congressional Districts a year from now, and be ready for a dogfight for the Fourth district. These losses alone would be enough to eliminate the current Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, absent offsetting victories elsewhere.

I think Mr. Carter has it about right. Lefty Twitter last night was full of angry progressives declaring that the American people are irredeemably stupid and can’t be trusted to vote in favor of their own interests, and that it is the Manchin-Sinema wing of the party that is wrecking things, clearly not the Sanders-Jaypal wing. One can only hope that national Democrats continue to believe that the loudest and dumbest voices on Twitter are the actual center of the party, at least through the next two national election cycles.


Is There Hope for the Republican Party?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

Republicans across the country are happy today. Heck, even I’m happy today. Glenn Youngkin is no portrait in courage; save that label for Liz Cheney. But he is no Donald Trump, and as often as Terry McAuliffe tried to hang that albatross around his neck, Youngkin slowly backed away and slipped the albatross off, like my dog slips out of his harness when he walks the wrong way around a pole and I try to pull him back by pulling him the “wrong” direction for a couple of feet. (That analogy might not work for everyone but I haven’t had my coffee yet so cut me some slack, Jack.)

Youngkin ran on a platform of lower taxes, parental control over schools, and supporting tough-on-crime measures. In other words, he was a traditional Republican. And he was normal! Sure, he was reluctant to denounce Trump and Trump’s Big Lie. I hold that against him. But I’m also realistic. He did not embrace the Big Lie. He said things that are basically sensible and true. He clearly is not a big fan of Trump, and avoided pitfalls like having Trump come campaign for him, or showing up at mega Trump rallies where the media could tie him to January 6. He said the right things when asked about January 6.

Ultimately, my litmus test for a Republican is: would you support the next coup attempt? If you’re a senator, will you vote to object to a fair election? If you’re a governor, will you send an alternate slate of electors to Congress just because your preferred candidate lost?

I don’t think Glenn Youngkin would. I bet Ron DeSantis would.

Of course the Trumpists are going to claim this as a victory and misread the results:

Another misreading, in my view, is the notion that Ron DeSantis is Glenn Youngkin but potentially on a national level. In other words, if Youngkin can win in Virginia, then his twin DeSantis can win in 2024. I think this is wrong, because I don’t see DeSantis and Youngkin as the same type of candidate, at all. DeSantis is a far more transparent example of the “hey let’s enact dumb policies to make Trumpy populists go rah rah” style of pandering populist politics. He has signed blatantly unconstitutional restrictions on free speech, platformed blatant misinformation on COVID on the same stage he occupied, prevented businesses such as cruise lines from requiring vaccinations from their customers, and (here’s one people forget) telling Laura Ingraham the Chauvin jury voted guilty because they were scared of a mob. DeSantis has never failed to pander to the lowest common denominator in the GOP and I find him revolting. Glenn Youngkin he ain’t.

So yeah, people are misreading the results. But to me, this result provides some hope that sanity can prevail in Republican politics.

Frankly, as long as Donald Trump manages to avoid the myocardial infarction that his lifestyle seems to cheerfully invite, my hopes for a sane political future will always be tempered by the dread of another coup attempt.

But at least there’s some hope today.

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