Another Go as Governor for Joe Manchin?

Charleston Gazette
2 July 2014


U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin lives on a Potomac River houseboat named “Almost Heaven,” according to the June 30 Time — but he may leave the boat and seek another term as West Virginia governor in 2016 because he’s disgusted by the hateful political gridlock that stymies progress in Congress.

The national newsmagazine says the houseboat “is Manchin’s home when he spends the night in Washington three nights or so a week during session.” It quotes him as saying: “I wasn’t crazy on buying any real estate in Washington, not at all.”

The boat serves as a floating party barge where Manchin invites fellow senators to develop personal friendships and try to ease the bitter gulf that keeps Democrats and Republicans from cooperating on anything. But his effort produces scant results.

“I know dysfunctional families that function better than the Senate does,” he said. “It’s just crazy.... I’ve never been in a less-productive time in my life than I am right now in the U.S. Senate.... My worst day as governor was better than my best day as senator.”

The West Virginian believes in negotiating earnestly to reach common ground and pass compromises acceptable to both sides — but it rarely happens. “You can never put your opponent in an impossible position,” he said, “and that happens way too often up here.”

It’s a shame, because sincere give-and-take negotiating is the only workable way to attain good government. West Virginia’s former chief executive deserves praise for his cooperative efforts, despite few results.

Frustrated, Manchin yearns for his good old governor days, when accomplishment was easy.

“Why wouldn’t you want to get something done?” he asked. “That’s why I liked being governor — you were measured every day by what you’d done that day.... I wore that Governor’s Mansion out. I went through more booze and food than you can imagine.”

Since his voting record is more middle-of-the-road than any other Senate Democrat’s, Manchin was asked whether he might turn Republican, but he answered: “I just don’t see that. I can’t see turning on a whole lifetime of beliefs.”

Time asked the stymied West Virginian if he will return home and run for governor again in 2016. He replied: “I’m going to wait until the 2014 election is over, and then I’m going to see what I should do.”

West Virginia’s future will be affected by Manchin’s choice. In the meantime, it’s disheartening that Washington politics have become an ideological cesspool obstructing nearly every attempt to benefit America.

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