West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin was missing in action when the Senate took two of its highest-profile votes on Saturday.
Manchin, who has been at odds with national Democrats several times since he was sworn in last month, was not present for votes on the DREAM Act and the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell".
A spokesperson for Manchin told the Charleston Gazette that the senator and his wife had "planned a holiday gathering over a year ago with all their children and grandchildren as they will not all be together on Christmas Day."
"While he regrets missing the votes, it was a family obligation that he just could not break," spokesperson Sara Payne Scarbro said. "However, he has been clear on where he stands on the issues."
Manchin did issue statements on Saturday making clear his opposition to both the DREAM Act and the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell"; his position on the latter bill made him the only Democrat to oppose repeal -- just as he was when the Senate voted on repeal last week.
The fact that Manchin was absent from the chamber while another Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), made it in to vote despite being recently diagnosed with prostate cancer doesn't bode well for Manchin's relationship with his caucus.
This, after last week's first vote against the DADT repeal, which he explained by saying that he'd only been in office three weeks and didn't know what West Virginians wanted on the issue. It's starting to look like Manchin is completely unprepared for and unserious about the responsibilities of his office. Good choice, West Virginia!