It's a good question.
Unlike many Democratic lawmakers who thinly praise, or opt out of the discussion altogether when it comes to Obama, Senator Manchin has gone on the offensive. Most recently, he blasted Obama for failed leadership on the issue of budget deficits.
This is not really a position of tremendous political courage for Manchin. West Virginia despises Obama and overwhelmingly approves of their newest U. S. Senator. However, he is right to compare his own leadership favorably to the absent Obama. Manchin, albeit with a few accounting gimmicks, could show a balanced budget every year. He also used surpluses to reduce state pension debt. Despite the (D) after his name, Manchin exercised some fiscal conservatism. His example has been followed by current West Virginia governor Earl Ray Tomblin and even New York governor Andrew Cuomo. Common sense dictates that in a poor economy, tax hikes and drastically expanded spending cannot work.
Joe Manchin is the consummate politician. He has an endgame here. Does it involve a bid for higher political office under the Democratic banner? Or is his rhetoric, which sounds moderate for a Republican and actually runs right of Mitt Romney in some ways, prefacing a party switch?
This coming election cycle could be one of the most raucous and unpredictable in some time. Some things that would have been impossible a few years ago might be seen as bold solutions now, especially if a true maverick like Newt Gingrich ends up on the GOP ticket.
For now, it is interesting to see Manchin again target Obama on the economic warpath.