Did Joe Manchin just open the door for Republicans to invoke the nuclear option if necessary to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court? In appearances on CNN and MSNBC this morning, Dem Senator Manchin blasted his fellow Dems for having invoked the nuclear option in the first place.

Said Manchin on Morning Joe: “I’ve been opposed to the nuclear option. I thought Harry Reid was dead wrong when he did it. I voted against that. My dear beloved senator, prior to my coming here, was Robert C. Byrd and he would be rolling over in his grave knowing what we have done.” That could be understood to mean: Dems, if the Republicans now use the nuclear option to confirm Gorsuch, you’ve got no one to blame but yourselves for having opened Pandora’s Box.

Note: Manchin suggested that he wouldn’t be afraid to lose his seat since “my consolation is, if I get defeated, I get to go home. I get to go back to beautiful West Virginia. I’m fine with that.”

Maybe so. But it’s funny how ex-congress critters tend to wind up sticking around DC to cash in and live the life they’ve become accustomed to. Remember Bob Dole declaring during the 1996 presidential campaign that he would either win or go home to Kansas? He lost . . . and is still in DC.

BONUS COVERAGE: Totenberg Says Gorsuch Pick Might be Signal to Kennedy that it’s OK to Retire

Appearing before Manchin on Morning Joe, NPR’s Nina Totenberg said the “back-channel story to this is, that this is a way conservative activists hope, that they can telegraph to Anthony Kennedy, who’s 80-years old, and who Judge Gorsuch clerked for, this is a way to say to him ‘it’s all right for you to leave and give us a second appointment to the Court.’

Certainly, it would be good to have the ability to nominate an originalist to replace the more moderate, swing-voting Kennedy. The big enchilada, of course, would be the chance to replace one of the Court’s unreconstructed liberals. Justice Ginsburg: there’s a lovely condo in Pembroke Pines with your name on it!

WILLIE GEIST: Do you think, Senator, it would be as outrageous as what Republicans did with Merrick Garland for them to then go nuclear on this nominee and require only a simple majority to push him through?

JOE: Well, I really don’t — I’ve been opposed to the nuclear option. I thought Harry Reid was absolutely dead wrong when he did it. And I voted against that. My dear beloved senator, prior to my coming here, was Robert C. Byrd. He’d be rolling over in his grave knowing what we have done and what we continue to do and how we really act out. So with that being said, I think it should be a bipartisan vote. I think it should be 60 votes for our Supreme Court. I think at the highest court of the land it should be what we are coming together as Americans and not to continue to divide us. With that being said, let’s give the man a chance. Talk to him. My goodness. Don’t shut it down before we even get started.

. . .

MARK HALPERIN: You’re going to come under pressure from national liberal groups to join an attempt to block him by demanding 60 votes. So are you impervious to that pressure?

MANCHIN: I’m impervious to it because my consolation is, if I get defeated, I get to go home. I get to go back to beautiful West Virginia. I’m fine with that. I can live with that! That’s not what I was sent here to do, Mark . . . I didn’t come here to say, oh, my goodness, if I do this I might not get re-elected. I didn’t come here to be here for life. This is not a lifetime job. It’s basically, I came here to do the best I can and I’m going to make a decision. If I can go home and, Mark, if I can explain it and defend it, I can vote for it. If I can’t explain it, there’s an old saying: you can’t shine you know what and you can’t shine this stuff up and make it look any better or smell any better.

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Totenberg Appearance

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Let’s start, though, with who this judge worked for. Obviously, Byron White and Justice Kennedy. Have been seen as center-right justices. Can we read anything —

NINA TOTENBERG: Yeah, you can read something into this. You can read something into this which is that the sort of back-channel story to this is, that this is a way conservative activists hope, that they can telegraph to Anthony Kennedy, who’s 80-years old, and who Judge Gorsuch clerked for, this is a way to say to him ‘it’s all right for you to leave and give us a second appointment to the Court.’ This is a chess move, in addition to everything else.”