I have seen Senator Joe Manchin out on the holiday party circuit in Washington and did have a very full conversation with him about DADT at one particularly high powered evening -- but parties are not the same as voting on nationally significant legislation.
This just in from Politico's Ben Smith though. During the vote today on DADT repeal and the DREAM Act, Manchin was at a family holiday party scheduled way in advance.
His spokesman, Payne Scarbro said however, that: "While he regrets missing the votes, it was a family obligation that he just could not break... However, he has been clear on where he stands on the issues."
First, Senator Joseph Lieberman has been careful not to work on the Sabbath for the many, many years I have known him. He prays, goes to synagogue, and the like -- but he does not do the nation's business on Saturdays because of deeply felt personal religious conviction. I get that and admire it about Joe Lieberman.
And yet, Joe Lieberman did a masterful job of marshalling Don't Ask Don't Tell forward.
Lieberman had an excuse and didn't use it. Manchin's excuse is not good enough.
And to Senator Manchin's spokesperson, let's just get something straight. Senator Manchin has not been clear "at all" about his views on Don't Ask Don't Tell.
Democratic mega donor Connie Milstein and I both spoke to the Senator and were under the impression that he was still thinking this over.
So, don't sell something that isn't cooked yet. If he feels strongly against DADT, then have him vote that way.
This is a bad punctuation point to his new Senate career -- and while there will no doubt be many votes he takes with which I agree with the senator, this tilt towards perpetuating bigotry rather than service with honor will stain his reputation and his electoral donations for a long time.