Controversy and criticism continues to rain down on West Virginia’s Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin after he announced he would not be supporting the Build Back Better bill. Celebrity singer, actress and comedian Bette Midler has now added her voice to the mix.
But instead of just criticizing Manchin, Midler aimed a low blow at West Virginia as a state.
“What #JoeManchin, who represents a population smaller than Brooklyn, has done to the rest of America, who wants to move forward, not backward, like his state, is horrible. He sold us out. He wants us all to be just like his state, West Virginia. Poor, illiterate and strung out,” she tweeted.
What #JoeManchin, who represents a population smaller than Brooklyn, has done to the rest of America, who wants to move forward, not backward, like his state, is horrible. He sold us out. He wants us all to be just like his state, West Virginia. Poor, illiterate and strung out.
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) December 20, 2021
While taking aim at a public official is one thing, beating up on the struggles of West Virginians is distastefully hitting below the belt.
Not to mention, factually, Midler is also wrong on a few counts about West Virginia.
West Viriginia’s literacy rate is 86.6 percent, which is higher than both New York and Hawaii, the two places Midler calls home. New York has a below average literacy rate of 77.9 percent and Hawaii clocks in at 84.1 percent, according to World Population Review.
On the other hand though, West Virginia does, sadly, have a very serious drug problem. In 2018, the state suffered from overwhelming opioid overdose deaths, recording 42.4 deaths per 100,000 people, as the National Institutes of Health reported.
West Virginia also struggles with poverty. Even before COVID started, the state had the sixth highest poverty rate in the country, according to the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.
“An estimated 278,734 West Virginians lived in poverty in 2019, for a total poverty rate of 16.0 percent,” the report said.
Yes, West Virginia has some very serious issues that need to be addressed, and Manchin is one of the people that needs to address these concerns.
But using the severe issues and sufferings of West Virginians merely as a tool to beat Manchin over the head with is disgraceful and ugly. Midler is free to openly disagree and criticize Manchin for his decision to not support the Build Back Better plan, but this is just poor form.
Besides, it was actually out of consideration for the poor state of West Virginia that Manchin has refused to support the Build Back Better plan. He believes it would harm rather than help his state.
“I have always said, ‘If I can’t go back home and explain it, I can’t vote for it.’ Despite my best efforts, I cannot explain the sweeping Build Back Better Act in West Virginia, and I cannot vote to move forward on this mammoth piece of legislation,” Manchin said, according to CNN.
The bill would cost about $2 trillion, and Manchin is concerned this would only make inflation worse. The U.S. is already suffering from an inflation rate that hasn’t been seen since the 1980s, The Hill reported.
“Some economists see a potential connection between persistent large deficits and higher inflation in the longer run,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
Higher inflation leads to even more problems for a state like West Virginia. Midler should have taken that into account before speaking out against Manchin.
Of course, Midler is free to openly disagree and criticize Manchin, but the way she went about it — both ignoring the fact that Manchin is trying to do what’s best for West Virginia and using the calamities of West Virginians as a club — was simply poor form.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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