A.H. Scott: Almost Heaven For An Ordinary Joe

illustration art of Joe Manchin by Thomcat23
Joe Manchin. Artwork by Thomcat23, Copyright 2021

Text by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2021


Almost Heaven For An Ordinary Joe


Joe Manchin is a man of the people. Question is; which people is he the man of? 

Is he Manchin of the average Joe or Jane type; you know the one of the bag lunch who is just trying to make that livable wage and keep their head above water. 

Oh yeah, that would be Joe, if Senator Manchin had not opposed increasing the minimum wage to $15[1] an hour within the American Rescue Plan of 2021 and also had his fingerprints all over limiting[2] an extension on unemployment benefits in that COVID Relief Bill. 

Well, okay, maybe he’s not that average Joe that can be reliable for the common man or woman. So, what kind of people is this Senator a man of?

Is he Manchin of shoe-shined lobbyists in loafers and such glad-handing of lucrative luxury yachts? The latter is his haven of heaven. Speaking of which, is his yacht with the title, ‘Almost Heaven’. 

Manchin’s yacht is a floating palace[3] for him to hold court with some of his Senate colleagues and a few other eyebrow-raising notables. Even some uninvited West Virginians[4] have paid the aloof Senator a visit via kayak. 

But, he’s just an ordinary Joe, working hard for the small guy and gal. Senator Manchin can’t be out of touch with his own constituents, can he? 

Oh yeah, Manchin Antoinette sure as hell can, when he’s rolling in a Maserati Levante, that’s priced upwards of $75,000; especially when sixteen percent of his fellow West Virginian’s are impoverished[5] and earning less than that slick ride’s worth. 

“I go to work in a hostile working environment every day.” – Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV[6] 

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin acts like a wannabe “Queen For The Day”; basking in the spotlight for all those reporters to race to just for a droplet of an answer from his royal lips. Playing so damned coy, as if he’s a team player, when all along the only team he plays for are the ones who butter his bread and keep his boat afloat.

Speaking of which, this pretend to be common man isn’t paddling in a wooden canoe across the water, but gliding with the breeze along the Potomac River. 

Sounding like the character of Floyd the barber on “The Andy Griffith Show:, with that kind of whispering voice and sort of ‘I don’t know about this or that’ type of vagueness attitude, Joe Manchin just puts on that folksy, cornpone veil of an act. 

Pity for a multitude of his own constituents that his ‘devil may care’ persona of poo-pooing the BBB is going to bring them a whole lotta’ sorrow in the future months to come. 

With all the hullaballoo that’s been speculated about the contents that are within the Build Back Better plan[7], here are the top 13 program highlights: 

1. Universal pre-K for 3 and 4 year olds for 6 million children

2. Child Care for 20 million children

3. Enhanced Child Tax Credit for 35 million plus families

4. Earned Income Tax Credit for 17 million 

5. Home Health Care for seniors and people with disabilities 

6. Affordable Care Act Subsidies 

7. Medicaid Coverage Gap 

8. Climate Change/Civilian Climate Corps

9. Affordable Housing 

10. Medicare Hearing Benefit 

11. Pell Grants

12. Children’s Nutrition for 38 million 

13. State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT)

Kentucky Representative John Yarmuth, Chairman of the House Budget Committee reference to the Congressional Budget Office’s consolidated estimate’s confirmation that the Build Back Better act is fully paid[8] for and would not add to the national debt, proves Senator Manchin’s hemming and hawing about his opposition to the jewel of the President Biden’s legislative agenda is an absurdity.

Democrats will have to sacrifice so much to get Joe Manchin on board with any resemblance of President Biden’s Build Back Better Plan that it won’t be recognizable.

Some may think that the Build Back Better bill is not dead, even though Senator Joe Manchin has said he will vote no on it. From the looks of things, maybe the bill can be salvaged. But, the obvious reality which Progressives saw coming a mile away is this; will a bill that has been hacked, demolished, scalpeled, chiseled and just plain old carved up into chunks be worth President Joe Biden’s signature if it ever reaches his desk? 

Organized labor groups, from the United Mineworkers of America[9] to the AFL-CIO have urged Manchin to give a second thought on his stance of no. Proposed in the Build Back Better bill were policies to lift almost half of West Virginia’s children out of poverty, extended childcare and health provisions for coal miners with black lung. 

So when Joe gets on television and in that lilting voice says that he can’t vote for a bill that he can’t explain to his voters; just realize that an ordinary Joe who is man of the people could give a barebones primer on how a policy would benefit the people of West Virginia. 

But, since the Senator of West Virginia is Manchin of money, marina, and Maserati[10]; it proves crystal clear that he doesn’t want to explain it. 

From a man whose wealth comes from the coal industry[11], it isn’t a surprise that the Build Back Better provisions on climate change and the environment would be another ash of contention for his opposition.

In fact, he doesn’t have to, because for the political elite such as he, there’s always the monetary parachute that comes the way of a politician who may lose re-election and go onto the avenue of lobbying, speechifying, and think tank philosophizing. 

Senator Joe Manchin may be the one with the spotlight on himself, because of his opposition to a key agenda item for the Democratic Party and President Biden’s administration and chafing at the call for a change in the senate rule of the filibuster. And, yes, he’s not the only one fiddling while Democracy is on the line. Yeah, I see you over there, Senator Sinema. 

But, now back to Senator Manchin and a trio of ingredients that are baked into the soufflé of lesser known conflictions. 

Of course President Joe Biden and Senator Joe Manchin have been colleagues and friends for many years, which was one of the reasons why many who were skeptical thought it was probable that the President would be able to convince and cojole a yes out of the Senator for his Build Back Better plan. 

From one Joe to another; the power of networking, glad-handing, collegiality, and friendship has its’ perks as a presidential nomination[12] of a former West Virginia Secretary of Education was confirmed unanimously as co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission earlier in 2021. Oh, by the way, the person’s name was Gayle Conelly Manchin, Senator Joe Manchin’s wife. 

A much qualified educator she is. But, I guess a connection is what a connection is. Of course, Mrs. Manchin isn’t the first spouse of a Senator to be confirmed by the colleagues of that spouse. Yet, I bet to many of the public have paid little attention to the ins and outs of who gets the nod of affirmation and confirmation throughout all administrations through the years.

As stated earlier in the aspect of eyebrow-raising of persons who were feted by the West Virginia senator on ‘Almost Heaven’, were a trio of Biden cabinet secretaries and even the White House Chief of Staff, Ron Klain. 

Hey, it’s not an infringement to invite anyone you wish aboard your yacht. But, it shows you’re not an ordinary Joe. It would be nice if every voter could whistle in the breeze and have a brew and a burger with members of the current administration. 

Cranky Joe Manchin complained behind the scenes about extending the Child Tax Credit, with demeaning and judgmental statements about low-income[13] parents spending the proposed monthly payments on drugs. Now, unless he was an ordinary Joe in knowing how it is to live paycheck to paycheck and just trying to get by, he should not say a peep from his ascended perch downward from upon that yacht or behind the wheel of a Maserati. It always seems ironic to me that those who are rolling in wealth always worry that poorer Americans can’t be trusted when it comes to money; but, why should the rich be trusted just based on them being rich? Hmm, it’s just a thought. 

Giving the backroom whisper of being high-handed to those less fortunate than where you are situated in life shows just how out of touch this man actually is. For himself, it’s fine to rub elbows and mingle with powerbrokers on his yacht, but God forbid he’d afford some compassion and economic ease for the people in America who are hurting during this unprecedented time of the dual pandemic of poverty and COVID.

Yep, Manchin Antionette just keeps rolling along without a care in the world.

The hypocrisy isn’t Senator Joe Manchin’s alone, for there are crimps in the armor of many political performers on both sides of the aisle when it comes to the subject of having a different set of rules for themselves and public facing pronouncements for the common man and woman across the United States of America. 

For members of Congress on both sides of the aisle that deal with oversight authority and ability to regulate varied industries, it makes the choices which are made by those elected officials to be given the side-eye by voters when they seem sometimes in league with those corporations they are suppose to not have conflict of interest with. 

The aspect of those who lobby and those who are lobbied being in bed together isn’t some way-out theory by jaded voters across the country. Yet, it cannot be ignored when an ability for lawmakers to trade and purchase stocks or get side deals which others outside the rarified plateau of the beltway are not able to do, reveals Manchin as coming off as just another ordinary Joe among his fellow politicos.

When even Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, voiced her opposition[14] to banning lawmakers and their spouses from owning shares of individual companies, it makes me even do a double-take. 

“We’re a free market economy.” – Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of the United States House of Representatives (D-CA) 

Congressional infractions from members and their staffs on what stocks that have been purchased and traded is just pushed back with postponement within financial-disclosure reports. Most of them probably figure nobody will notice if enough time passes. And, without them revealing it outright, it just vanishes in a voter’s memory before the next election. 

Haven of ‘Almost Heaven’ is an apt metaphor for the intermingling of policy and politics of things being too fishy about Washington D.C. 

Many deride Washington as ‘the swamp’ and the creatures there are vacant of ideology of blue or red, but cocooned in green. 

Activists make their voices known to those who dwell there and get scant changes in various policies; for those who are fortunate to enjoy the ‘clubbiness’ of the Capitol seem to rarely care about anyone or anything else beyond the tip of their own noses.

It’s all about the Me. The Great Me-Me. The Great He-Me. The Great She-Me.

Nothing may be illegal about any of the goings on in Washington, but, it sure has the funk of ethical evaporation and heft of hypocrisy, as lawmakers are handing down rules to the rest of America, while they sail into the horizon of self-preservation. 

It would be nice if everything done by these men and women in the political sphere would act above board and with transparency; then that would be Almost Heaven, for real.

About The Author: A.H. Scott is a poet based in New York City and senior contributor to Tony Ward Studio. To read additional articles by Ms. Scott, go here: https://tonyward.com/same_as_it_ever_was/


A.H. Scott’s book: Bad Guys Finish Fast & Good Guys Finish Last is available on Amazon!



Editor’s Note: To access the artwork of Thomcat23 on Etsy, click here: https://etsy.me/2TCZ6f1


“Almost Heaven For An Ordinary Joe” – The Footnotes: 

1.“Sen. Joe Manchin Says No To $15 Minimum Wage” – HuffPost


2. “Democrats Reach Agreement on Unemployment Benefits After COVID Relief Bill Hit Early Snag” – ABC News


3. “Washington’s Hottest Club Is Joe Manchin’s Houseboat” – Washington Post


4. “Joe Manchin Ambushed On His Yacht By Activists” – Newsweek


5. “Of Course Joe Manchin Drives a Maserati” -Vice


6. “I Go To Work In A Hostile Working Environment” – The Hill


7. “House Reconciliation Package Explainer” – CNN


8. “Chairman Yarmuth’s Statement on CBO Estimate” – House Budget Committee


9. “Yes, Joe Manchin Will Face Blowback” – New Republic


10. “Joe Manchin Maserati Surrounded By Protestors” – Gizmodo


11.“Joe Manchin’s Dirty Empire” – The Intercept



12. “Wife of Powerful Senator Joe Manchin Unanimously Confirmed By The Senate” – Forbes


13. “Manchin Said Child Tax Credit Will Go Towards Drugs” – The Cut


14. “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Opposes Banning Congress Members From Owning Individual Stocks” – CNBC


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