Joe Manchin goes both ways

Joe Manchin, West Virginia's popular governor who was recently elected to the Senate, is grappling with the difficulties of trying to represent an increasingly right-leaning state as Democrat. The results aren't pretty:

Manchin said that the military's ban on openly gay and lesbian service members “needs” to be repealed, despite his vote last week on a procedural measure that would have advanced a repeal of the policy.

“I was here three weeks. It's something that probably would be — it needs to be — and will be repealed,” the newly minted senator said on MSNBC.

Manchin was the lone Democrat to vote with Republicans against ending a filibuster of the defense bill containing a provision to repeal the policy. He said in a statement that, having just been sworn in as a senator in November, he hasn't had an opportunity to evaluate his constituents' opinions on the issue.

Hmm. It seems much more like Manchin knows a Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal isn't popular with his constituents, yet he also knows that he can't fully endorse his own vote without being pilloried by the national Democratic establishment. In any event, it will be interesting to see whether Manchin's hair-splitting becomes a trend and to what extent Republicans can exploit it and Democrats grow to resent it.

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