Politicians can do the right thing

A column by Mike Myer, executive editor of The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — Some members of the U.S. Senate had made up their minds about the so-called “Iran deal” before negotiations were even concluded. Some Democrats liked it solely because it was their president’s baby. Some Republicans opposed it for the same reason. Still other lawmakers supported it because they’re desperate for any hope of peace with Iran. Some gauged their stances solely on how voters back home view the proposal.

Sen. Joe Manchin is not in any of the above categories, in my opinion.

After more than 40 years as a newspaperman, I’ve become pretty good at judging when people aren’t being honest with me. During the same period, I’ve become more cynical than you can imagine about all politicians.

For me, politicians start out with two strikes against their believability.

Now, Manchin, D-W.Va., is a politician. He understands keeping his constituents happy is critical. He also is aware most dislike President Barack Obama.

But for weeks while he investigated the proposed deal with Iran, Manchin said he was leaning toward supporting it. He did that though, as he told a group of journalists four weeks ago, he thought 90-95 percent of his constituents opposed the deal.

In strictly political terms, that ought to have sealed it. Manchin should have come out against the plan. But he didn’t. He spent three and one-half more weeks asking questions and thinking about the proposal before announcing Tuesday he’d vote against it. He also spent some time in West Virginia talking to constituents.

I’ve heard Manchin’s arguments in favor of the deal. They were well thought-out. I’ve also heard his reasons for concluding he had to vote against it. They were persuasive.

Could I be wrong? Of course. But think about this: Having spent time investigating the deal while saying he “leaned toward” support, Manchin is accused of being a flip-flopper. He’d have been better off politically had he announced way back in July that he would vote against it.

Trust me on this: Manchin knows that.

On this one – perhaps a matter of world peace – Manchin really seems to have let his intellect and his conscience be his guide.

How sad that so many voters view that attitude as the exception rather than the rule in Washington.

Myer can be reached at: [email protected].

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