Was Joe Biden’s nomination of Senator Joe Manchin’s wife to a $165,000 post in his administration a bribe or a pay-off? So far, there’s no way to tell, but there is also no question about whether it creates an appearance of impropriety, which undermines public trust in the government, assuming there is any left at this point. It does. In fact, I can’t think of a more vivid example. The ethics rules governing government employees and judges, as well as members of Congress, prohibit conduct that creates the appearance of impropriety. The President and Vice-President are not covered by the rules. The circumstances around this appointment create only, well, circumstantial evidence of corruption, but then that’s what “appearance” means. It is conduct that creates suspicion.
Boy, does this ever.
Two days after Sen. Manchin cast a last-minute deciding vote on the Senate Armed Services Committee’s that advanced Biden’s controversial Pentagon policy nominee, Colin Kahl, to the full Senate, Manchin’s wife Gayle was announced as the surprise nominee to be federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission. The agency focuses on investing in Appalachia’s economic future by “providing grants, publishing research, and sponsoring learning experience.”
This, several news sources wrote, “raises questions about whether there was any connection between his vote and his wife’s nomination.” Ya think? The Biden administration has made it clear that if a nominee isn’t gay, trans, non-white, disabled, or a fire-breathing radical, there is no place for he/she/whatever. Why would a middle-of-the road, white woman from West Virginia qualify, other than the fact that she is, in fact, qualified for the job by those old fashioned, racist standards of yore?
Pro-Israel groups and West Virginia legislators opposed Kahl, who was heavily involved in the corrupt Iran nuclear deal, opposed Iran sanctions, and has been vocally anti-Israel. If Manchin, who said he was undecided, voted against Kahl on the 13-13 split committee, the nomination was dead. What made Manchin’s support of Kahl especially odd was that the nominee hash a history of inflammatory comments on Twitter, like calling the GOP “the party of ethnic cleansing” and of denigrating specific lawmakers. Manchin killed the nomination of Neera Tanden as Biden’s nominee for Office of Management and Budget director for exactly the same kind of uncivil social media activity. Why the change ?
This is my first opportunity to use the new Ethics Alarms acronym, IIPTDXTTNMIAFB, or “Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden.” Yet Biden, or whoever is pulling his strings, has already made it clear that in this administration, the ends justify the means and it doesn’t matter who knows it. Democrats and progressives clearly don’t care about such niceties as ethics, for if they did Nancy Pelosi would be running a gift shop. Why would Senator Manchin or his wife be willing to look so tawdry and desperate?
This looks like, smells like, quacks like and waddles like a slimy quid pro quo.
Which is to say that it appears to be one.