POLITICAL ANALYSIS: Surprise! Manchin Votes for Obamacare After All

HNN Staff
POLITICAL ANALYSIS: Surprise! Manchin Votes for Obamacare After All

Some people were surprised and others weren't by the vote for Obamacare by the new junior U.S. Senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin. Manchin, who was dogged by his early support of Obamacare throughout his recent U.S. Senate campaign by Republican John Raese, finally changed his tune towards the end of that race.

Late last fall, Manchin said that, given what he knew about Obamacare at the time he was running, he would vote against it, not for it, reversing his oft-stated support for the controversial health care bill. Defying his own President--and his own self-stated support for Obamacare earlier--Manchin helped turn his candidacy around

Now Manchin seems to have come full circle, having returned to his original pro-Obamacare position by voting for it last week, along with West Virginia's senior U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller.

"I've never quite seen a double flip-flop like this before," said Jack Ellis, HNN's Senior Political Analyst. "Manchin could be a new gymnastics entrant in the next Olympic games with the positioning required to do this one.

"Usually, it's seen as bad enough to have to change a publicly-stated position, but twice?" said Ellis. "Manchin doesn't exactly look like his own man, and the Republicans now have the upper hand in labeling him a total sell-out to Obama."

In fact, the State GOP took out full-page ads in some West Virginia newspapers directly after Manchin's vote, stating "Obama 1, West Virginia 0" in referencing the controversial vote by Manchin. Moreover, Manchin's appearance last week on the statewide "Metronews Talkline" radio program with Hoppy Kercheval was seen by many as a poor performance for the new U.S. Senator.

"Manchin has no good explanation for this," said Ellis. "If he is afraid of upsetting the Obama Administration while he's still the target of a U.S. Attorney's Office federal investigation, that might be one reason for voting this way. But of course he can't admit to that."

"The only other explanation is simply what John Raese told people last fall during their campaign," said Ellis. "Raese told people that he just watches what Manchin does, he doesn't listen to what he says. Which when translated means: Joe Manchin is going to tell us one thing, even as he tries to be accepted by the Democratic powerboys up in D.C. by voting the way they want."

"Clearly, Joe Manchin didn't vote in a way that two-thirds of the West Virginia voting public wanted on this Obamacare bill," said Ellis. "The fact that he's reversed himself twice on one bill may well lead to the general assumption that Manchin is just not ready for the bigtime up in D.C."

"I'm not quite sure how he gets out of this perception at this point," said Ellis. "He's had a very bad start. First he avoids voting on the Gays in the Military bill, which an overwhelming number of West Virginians oppose, mostly because we have sent so many young people to the military from this state. That was obviously a special gift from Manchin to Obama."

"Now he's voted for Obamacare, after specifically stating otherwise during the election," said Ellis. "Manchin's only hope is to realize sooner than later that the average West Virginia voter is not nearly as dumb as he thinks they are. But after thirty years of this kind of "say one thing, do another" politics, it may be too late for him to change stripes now."