Posted 59 days ago
Although Cockburn's article does a decent job of reviewing the aura that surrounds Joe Manchin (should he be hated or loved?), I thought that Evan Osnos's profile in The New Yorker was a much stronger and in-depth piece. However, it was good to get Cockburn's perspective, whi is clearly more against Manchin than Osnos.
Whereas Osnos focuses on the political philosophy at stake, Cockburn dives into the details of Manchin's life and committees. For example, he comes various moments where Manchin or his wife have been promoted to better positions under the Biden administration:
Georgia voters handed control of the Senate to the Democrats, thereby promoting Manchin to the coveted chairmanship of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, overseer of all legislation related to Biden’s cherished climate-change agenda. Evidence of his importance to Biden has been visible in administration job announcements.
This means that one of the most conservative members of the Democratic Party, not only by a deciding vote in the Senate but also by leading the committee, has probably the most powerful voice on one of the most progressive agendas today. It's hard not to depict this as intentional. But I also don't disagree with it. Biden clearly cares more about workers than he does about "progressive" politics like climate change. Although I'm a supporter of both, I actually won't knick points from Biden here, because the day-to-day lives of the working class must be addressed before the climate.
Of course, climate activists in the Meft often cite the green jobs that will come. I believe this to an extent, but the shift will be slow and in the meantime people's lives matter more than the existential stakes. Progressives might might their hands up at this, but there is a reason Manchin and Biden are in power here. For example:
the commission will have a lot to say about a particular project dear to Manchin’s heart: the proposed Appalachian Regional Energy Hub. This nearly $2 billion scheme, for which he says he is working “tirelessly,” will make use of vast caverns in the northern part of the state to store natural gas byproducts that can be used to produce plastic, which Manchin promises would birth an industrial powerhouse and generate one hundred thousand jobs.
Of course, it's hard to tell, just as the green new jobs, if this prediction is true (it probably isn't as large as they make it to seem). And people might get angry that it's being used to manufacture plastic, but plastic is crucial on today's world and here to stay, so best we put the jobs where we can control the environment side-effects better and give people better lives.