With the Democrats having concluded their national party convention in Charlotte, a New York Times analysis in last Sunday's edition rated the loyalty quotient of party factions, landing the mug of West Virginia's U.S. Senator Joe Manchin in the column of having appeal to "voters least loyal to the Democratic Party."
That may explain why the West Virginia Poll conducted for the Charleston Daily Mail last month showed Manchin with a commanding lead over his Republican rival as the November election approaches.
The Times identified supporters of Manchin and his ilk as a "remnant of what used to be a mainstay of the party ... muttering that elites in California and Manhattan don't understand them." Manchin, proclaims the Times, is their "standard-bearer" for his appeal to "religious and socially conservative voters," motivated by the economy, favoring "energy development over the environmental protection," and is pro-defense spending.
At the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce business summit rolling into the Labor Day weekend, Manchin repeated his pro-energy mantra and the impediment Washington presents on the regulatory front to mining coal and tapping natural gas reserves.
Manchin, with Simpson and Bowles in tow, is staking his claim that addressing the nation's staggering debt is the most serious and immediate crisis on the public policy stage. He has managed to assail the Pentagon's wasteful contracting to rehabilitate Iraq's economy, citing an inspector general's audit critical of Defense Department practices.
But Manchin, who did not even attend the national party confab in North Carolina, visited a West Virginia Air National Guard facility to draw a contrast with highly-regarded Mountain State military personnel and the federal government's hires in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Make no mistake, though: Joe Manchin will not let a bashing of excess in the Military Industrial Complex be construed in the least as going soft on national security. Manchin sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, a post giving him a guiding hand in the direction of U.S. fighting forces. Long-rage projects like the F-35 aircraft, whose parts are supplied by aluminum workers in Ravenswood make the connection between jobs at home and a modern national defense against a backdrop of tension with Iran, Russia and China.
To Joe Manchin, being on the fringe of the national Democratic Party may not endear him to "staunch liberals" like Elizabeth Warren, as the Times characterized her. But his numbers in the West Virginia Poll would not be so decisively in his favor if he succumbed in the slightest to a magnetic pull from the left.
Frank S. Hewes