“This is a no,” said Sen. Joe Manchin on Fox News last Sunday, making clear the Dems won’t have the necessary vote to pass their Build Back Better bill.

Bad enough to lose his support, but to hear this longtime Democrat break the news on a network famed for favoring Republicans transformed him into an unvarnished turncoat.

Change of heart

Another political leader also took a shocking turn this week. England’s PM, Boris Johnson, who once vehemently pushed for the British Museum to return the Parthenon marbles, now is pushing in the opposite direction.

As The Guardian headlined the news, “Boris Johnson rules out return of Parthenon marbles to Greece,” as if that were the end of any discussion.

Why? Johnson believes the relics “were legally acquired.” But were they? He’s referring to the explanation from the 7th Earl of Elgin, Thomas Bruce, who in 1816 sawed the sculptures from their mooring with permission from the Ottoman Empire, ruler of Greece at the time, and then sold them to the British Museum for $50,000.

But wait. Isn’t Elgin’s excuse tantamount to German art dealers having permission from the Nazis to take collections owned by the Jewish population?

And given that many of these collections are being returned to their rightful owners, shouldn’t the Brits do the same?

No, says Johnson, which The Guardian notes is a flip-flop because of what he said in 1986.

Will the real Boris please stand up?

At that time, said The Guardian, Johnson ‘argued passionately” for the marbles in a 978-word article held in the library at Oxford University where he was a student.

His article clarified how adamant he was about wanting the relics to display “where they belong” rather than “hacked” from the temple on the Athenian Acropolis.

Johnson even mocked the British Museum in his 1986 letter, saying the marbles “should leave this northern whisky-drinking guilt-culture.” That way, he went on to say, the sculptures won’t suffer the damage that the museum inflicted by “manic washerwomen scrubbing them with copper brushes.”

In 1999 The Guardian reported “irreparable damages” inflicted by the British Museum’s “botched attempt to clean the 2,500-year-old treasures.

How were they botched?

The museums had the misguided idea that the relics needed to be white and used a wire brush to accomplish this.

Is it any wonder that Lord Byron would call the restoration of the marbles in his poem “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” “the last poor plunder.”

As for Johnson’s switching sides, you might say it’s a very British thing that goes back to the 17th century. That’s when British army general Oliver Cromwell ordered his troops to turn their coats inside out to look like the Royal army colors for a successful siege of Corte Castle.

The American way

This brings us back to Manchin. American history shows that being a turncoat isn’t only a British thing. Even so, switching sides in peacetime is not an acceptable strategy.

I’m thinking of Aaron Burr, who saw his image damaged from the duel with Alexander Hamilton and sought to polish it. His plan? To get the British army to capture the Louisiana territory in contention at the time.

Needing a general to lead the troops, Burr asked the U.S. army, Gen. James Wilkinson, for help. But the general reported the plot to President Thomas Jefferson, and that was that.

Too bad Manchin’s plot to overthrow the Build Back Better Plan can’t be undone. Or can it?