Over the weekend, newly minted Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) wasn't in Washington while the rest of the Senate was voting on the DREAM Act and the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Sure, Manchin ran on the platform that he was going to courageously shoot laws, with guns. Yes, these two measures were important enough to demand a certain amount of statesmanship. And West Virginians are pretty much used to the sight of their late senator, Robert Byrd, showing up for work despite being as old as Methuselah. But Manchin had an important Christmas party to attend! What if that Christmas party didn't make quorum, and Santa Claus skipped West Virginia as a result?
Well, Manchin is now really, really sorry about missing out on casting votes, the job he was elected to do:
"Let me apologize to anybody and everybody within our listening and reading areas. I'm very sorry for missing the two votes," Manchin said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday.
"Saturday was our Christmas and Saturday evening was our Christmas dinner. I got up Sunday and came back to Washington to make the votes I had to make," he said.
I guess Jim DeMint is right: the holiday season can just be too distracting for some people. If I sound pretty unsympathetic, however, it's probably because Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) managed to not be too distracted, by the fact that he had an impending prostate cancer surgery, to show up and vote.
Eric Kleefeld at TPM notes that Manchin says he would have voted against both DREAM and the DADT repeal, but thanks to the fact that he observes Christmas a week before the rest of the United States, he won't have to take any responsibility for what he might have done, had he actually done it.
"In the future, I will make any adjustments and all adjustments that need to be made so that it doesn't happen again," Manchin says. Those adjustments include knowing when the Senate is voting on things, and remembering that he is a senator.