Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virgina Democrat, made his position against repealing DADT clear this month — but he was not in the chamber for either the vote on cloture or actual repeal. How come? He was at a “holiday gathering” (and not, he insists, a “Christmas party”) that had been planned “over a year ago with all their children and grandchildren.” He’s been attacked by both the right and the left for missing the vote, but Manchin insists he would skip the vote all over again, because he “made a commitment to my grandchildren and I was with my grandchildren” and “the two big votes, I never changed. I was against both of them and I put it in the congressional record, so that was done way before the votes, so I was pretty clear where I was.” How cool! Manchin represents a new breed of federal lawmaker, where simply letting your position be known is the same thing as casting your vote. But don’t worry, Gays Who Didn’t Need His Vote Anyhow: Manchin will be back for the rest of the lame duck session.