What is going on with Joe Manchin and all these bills?

Manchin has repeatedly expressed reservations about the size of the omnibus reconciliation bill, which sounds like legislation meant to settle some bad blood between buses. He has done so in print in the Wall Street Journal. He has done so in the White House.

Manchin also opposed the voting rights bill his Democratic colleagues supported. So he hammered out a version he could be happy with — but now that seems to be going nowhere.

What, though, does he actually want? Why is he behaving this way? What policy aims specifically does he object to? Any of them? All of them? Here are some theories.

1. As a small child, Joe Manchin was frightened by a large number, and he has never felt comfortable around them since.

2. Joe Manchin can be persuaded only when he is on his boat, and he is not on his boat.

3. Joe Manchin is content with things as they are! Can’t more people be content with things as they are? Why do people have to look around and see problems everywhere, problems that can be fixed by legislation? Maybe what we need isn’t more legislation but a better attitude!

4. Joe Manchin is in the pocket of Big Status Quo.

Follow Alexandra Petri‘s opinionsFollowAdd

5. The last words of Joe Manchin’s old mentor were “Oppose any bill containing … ” and Joe Manchin didn’t catch the words after that, if there even were words, if the final rattling whisper contained any meaning at all. So he is just being safe.

6. Will heighten inflation(??).

7. Joe Manchin had a dream of seven lean cows and seven fat cows, and he is pretty sure that means he isn’t allowed to pass any legislation protecting voting rights. It surprised him, too, that that was what the conclusion was, but he read it on a dream-interpreting app!

8. West Virginia!

9. West Virginia?

10. One morning, Joe Manchin got dressed and put on a tie he particularly liked, and all day long, he waited to see whether anyone would notice it and compliment it, and the only person to say anything about it was Joe Biden — but what he said was NOT even a compliment. Biden almost certainly doesn’t remember, but Joe Manchin absolutely remembers, and now he is going to ensure that Biden is punished for it. He wore the tie to their meeting to see whether it would jog anything, but it didn’t.

11. Bipartisanship once saved Joe Manchin’s life.

12. Three ghosts appeared to Joe Manchin and showed him how the world would be if he ground the legislative agenda to a halt, and he wants to see whether the cataclysms they predicted were correct!

13. Joe Manchin thinks the amount of democracy we have right now is just fine, and he would even be happy with a little less.

14. If Joe Manchin articulates specifically what he wants, the curse that is keeping all his brothers trapped in the form of wild ducks will never lift! He must keep mum about the specifics he desires until the time is right.

15. This is a test to see whether you’ve been paying attention to Joe Manchin all these years. You should know what Joe Manchin wants without having to be told.