EDITORIAL: Manchin Earns a Zero on Life

HNN Staff
EDITORIAL:  Manchin Earns a Zero on Life
This may be a first.  West Virginians for Life split their endorsement in the 2010 U.S. Senate race between Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican John Raese.  How well we remember the picture of Joe Manchin just smiling away with his friends from the West Virginians for Life main office.

Yet now, the parent group for West Virginians for Life, the National Right to Life organization, gives Manchin a great big goose egg for refusing to support all three of their top legislative initiatives in the 112th Congress. That's right: Manchin gets a zero, which is about as low an "F" as you can get--from the very organization that trusted him enough to give him an "A+" endorsement the last time around.  Let's take a look at the facts, as presented on the National Right to Life scorecard on their website:

1. Repeal of Obama health care law (02/02/2011, Roll Call No. 9)

2. Blocking funding for Obama health care law (04/14/2011, Roll Call No. 59)

3. Cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood (04/14/2011, Roll Call No. 60)

Now maybe we could understand if a West Virginians for LIfe endorsee like Manchin had issues with one of these three bills.  But three out of three?  With friends like Manchin, who needs pro-choice opponents, you know?

What makes Manchin's refusal to vote for these pro-life requests so unfathomable is that each of them involves the use of taxpayer money to pay for abortions.  That is one of the most radical pro-choice votes a U.S. Senator or Congressional representative can take, because such a position takes the argument into a whole new dimension--enlisting average taxpayers, against their will, into a controversy for which they may have no stomach.

Yes, we know that taxpayers of all stripes may have to see some of their tax dollars go for priorities they may find distasteful.   A commuter may wonder why more money is spent on keeping up the highways as opposed to city beautification grants. 

However, everyone knows that abortion takes it to a whole other level, challenging the very core of some taxpayers' moral beliefs.  If America is indeed a free country, then why can't Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers do what other organizations have to do, namely raise their own funds instead of relying each year on the taxpayer.

For Joe Manchin to vote for taxpayer-paid abortions, while representing a traditional state like West Virginia, is not only mind-boggling.  It's a serious political mistake. 

The only worse political mistake would be if West Virginians for Life endorse this man again after ignoring them and their statewide constituency.   West Virginians for Life operates in the political system, and we understand that they feel they must "play the game." 

But they mustn't play the political game in too convoluted a way.  By championing shallow candidates who use their endorsement to get elected but then constantly vote against their group's agenda, West Virginians for Life seriously risks losing their hardwon credibility with their constituents and the public.  You can hear it now: "Why, they don't really believe in life at all.  After all, they endorsed Manchin."

So West Virginians for Life now have endorsed a candidate for the U.S. Senate who has voted not once, not twice, but all three times against their relatively modest agenda in his first year as a U.S. Senator.  Surely the old Appalachian phrase is applicable here:  "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me." 

We trust that West Virginians for Life will not be fooled twice by backing Joe Manchin again.  It could be their undoing with their grassroots.  How would they explain it to their sincere pro-life rank and file?  They know the truth about Manchin now.  He'll say anything, do anything, to get elected--and never mean a word of it.

Some of us already knew that.  Now the officials of West Virginians for Life do, too.  They can no longer plead ignorance.

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