CNN  — 

Joe Manchin was pissed.

In the immediate aftermath of the Senate voting down a bipartisan commission to conduct a soup-to-nuts review of the riot at the US Capitol on January 6, the West Virginia Democrat let loose on his Republican colleagues.

“This commission passed the House with a bipartisan vote. The failed vote in the Senate had six brave Republicans, but that was four short of the 10 necessary to advance the legislation,” Manchin said in a statement. “Choosing to put politics and political elections above the health of our Democracy is unconscionable. And the betrayal of the oath we each take is something they will have to live with.”

Oh man! He sure is mad! He called them “unconscionable!!!”

Cut to Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, smiling broadly.

Why? Because McConnell, who was the driving force in killing the January 6 commission, couldn’t care less about Manchin condemning him. (McConnell has been called every name in the book during his time in politics.)

All – and I mean ALL – McConnell cares about is whether Manchin has changed or will change his opposition to getting rid of the legislative filibuster. As in: Did the Republican obstruction of a bipartisan deal aimed at getting to the root of the worst attack on the nation’s Capitol in, oh, 200 years or so, change Manchin’s mind that the legislative filibuster is absolutely sacrosanct?

Answer: No.

“I’m not ready to destroy our government,” Manchin told CNN’s Manu Raju late last month. “I’m not ready to destroy our government, no.” Manchin also told Manu this: “This is the long game, not the short game. … The Senate is very deliberate.”

Cut to McConnell, smiling broadly.

See, here’s the thing: As long as Manchin stays opposed to getting rid of the legislative filibuster, he is McConnell’s best buddy – no matter what the West Virginia Democrat says about his Kentucky Republican colleague.

The math is simple: To get rid of the 60-vote threshold to end debate (and force a final vote) on any piece of legislation, Senate Democrats need a simple majority. Which means they need all 50 Democrats to vote for it – and for Vice President Kamala Harris to cast the tie-breaking vote.

Without Manchin, Democrats only have 49 votes. And therefore, would lose any attempt to change the filibuster rules.

Which, unless Manchin changes his mind, means that the January 6 commission could be only the first in a series of proposals that die in the Senate at the hand of the still-extant filibuster. The next fight is likely to be over Democrats’ massive election reform law. President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package could also be a filibuster fail. Ditto policing reform if a compromise can’t be worked out.

And here’s the toughest part for Democrats: There’s no real argument – at least no political one – that they could use to sway Manchin. He is a Democrat in an overwhelmingly Republican state. Serving as a block on the national Democratic agenda is good politics for Manchin. And liberal groups savaging him for doing so simply helps him make the case back home that he isn’t just another Washington Democrat.

So the likeliest outcome going forward is that Manchin continues to blast Republicans in the Senate for their recalcitrance on issues of critical import to the country while being unwilling to bend on the elimination of the legislative filibuster.

Cut to McConnell, smiling broadly.