David Marcus: Manchin smacks Biden's placeholder presidency

Sen. Joe Manchin throws wrench in Democrats’ spending plans: ‘Enough is enough’

Congressional correspondent Chad Pergram has the latest on political bottlenecks within the infrastructure bill on ‘Your World’

When Bill Clinton was elected in 1992 he was the future of the Democratic Party. When George W. Bush was elected, he was the future of the GOP. When Barack Obama was elected he was the future of the new Democrats. When Donald Trump was elected… you get the point. 

Nobody, exactly nobody, thought when Joe Biden was elected president that he was the future of anything. He is a placeholder president and he’s learning the limitations of that.

Biden’s absolutely spectacular failure to pass either the bipartisan infrastructure bill or his “Build Back Better” tax and spend bonanza has left him pantless on the political stage. 

Monday, in a press conference Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., snuffed out hope for quick passage. He will not vote for massive social spending, he said, not even to save the bipartisan infrastructure bill. 

It’s not just an embarrassment, it’s an abject humiliation. As Manchin pointed out in his remarks, twice the president of the United States has gone groveling in person to Congress and twice his own party has told him to kick rocks. The senator from West Virginia understands what a breach of respect and decorum that is, so do the American people. 

A president deigns to sully himself in the halls of the Capitol to throw his weight around and get results. Biden has proven he has all the weight of a hang glider and that absolutely nobody cares what he thinks or gives a fig about his presidency. 

That’s a problem for him. 

The man who supposedly had decades of legislative experience that would bring the country together can’t even get his own party together.

The Republican civil war is over, Liz Cheney and her crew lost. The Democratic civil war is just getting started, and boy howdy is it lively. Bernie Sanders and the Squad want everything including the kitchen sink and it’s one of those fancy sinks. 


The so called moderates in the senate like comfy Manchin and edgy Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., are arguing for a more modest spigot. But both sides agree on one thing. They won’t budge in deference to the president. 

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) departs through the Senate subway after remarks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. November 1, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

This is remarkable and noteworthy. In a functioning political party, the kind that poor Nancy Pelosi thought she would be leading, the troops gather round, make compromises and give their president a big win. Instead, each branch of the Democratic Party’s dysfunctional family is squabbling over Biden’s remains while he gazes on from his political deathbed.

The Democrats might still salvage something passed from the political disaster that has been these negotiations for months now. They also might not, as Manchin’s presser showed. What they do have is a president who appears weaker than any in modern history, maybe in American history. Put bluntly, Joe Biden couldn’t twist the arm of a stuffed animal, much less Democrats who care nothing about him or his legacy.

Biden won as the generic Democrat. He might have been that once, and he did wind up in the Oval Office. But there is no generic Democrat now. There are crazy progressives and those who are not. Neither camp seems to care about Biden’s fortunes.

And therein lies his problem. He has no base. Biden has no core of support. He’s just there. Just an old man playing a role. He doesn’t know what that role is. His party doesn’t know where it stands. 

The placeholder presidency is falling apart. And it’s hard to see how any of this gets any better. 

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