Bye Bye Bayh…But Why?

The Tygrrrr Express is Las Vegas Bound for several events. As I head out to sin city, a political tsunami has rocked the heartland.

A political bombshell was dropped when popular Indiana Senator Evan Bayh decided not to run for reelection.

Senator Bayh has long had a reputation as a reasonable, moderate, centrist Democrat who was not afraid to work across the aisle. He spoke in a calm voice, preferring thoughtful discussion to obnoxious bombast.

So as we say bye bye Bayh, the question is…why?

First let’s dispense with the nonsensical speculation.

Evan Bayh is not running for President in 2012. He is not going to challenge President Obama as a Democrat or as an independent. Only one person would be ruthless and cutthroat enough to destroy an entire political party for her own selfish gain, and Evan Bayh is no Hillary Clinton.

Despite almost being Vice President, Barack Obama is not going to dump Joe Biden. Biden may be the Barney Fife of the current administration, but he is also the best life insurance policy Mr. Obama could want. Joe Biden knows that nobody cares about anything he says or does, which allows him to be completely loyal to the president. Mr. Bayh will not be replacing Mr. Biden.

I have always found Evan Bayh to be likable, intelligent…and overrated. His keynote speech for Bill Clinton was boring. He is always touted as top tier, but even by midwestern caucasian governor standards, he is very bland. Boring is not a crime. It just means that being governor might be a political ceiling in the age of presidential charisma.

Were there other reasons he retired?

Does Evan Bayh have a personal scandal coming, such as a sex or financial scandal?

To go down this road would be cynical and unfair to the man. Yes, America has been rocked by the recklessness and selfishness of everybody from Mark Sanford to Eliot Spitzer. John Edwards set the bar so low that nothing would surprise me. Yet unless any evidence surfaces, Evan Bayh deserves to be seen as a respected family man, loving husband, and attentive father.

His speech reminded me of the time when Bill Bradley said that “politics is broken.” When Bradley said it, it sounded whiny. Bradley had almost lost his last race, and seemed to be getting out while his star was still high and his aura had yet to fade. Bayh sounded more sincere.

Mr. Bayh did say one thing that really caught my ear. He said that at his heart, “I am an executive.” He used to be Governor of Indiana. I have always said that governors are like senators, except governors actually do things.

Executives can accomplish things. They have real power. A good governor can make a state, and a bad one can break a state. Even a mayor can rise to national prominence if they run a city successfully.

Senators are set up to get nothing done. We just celebrated President’s Day. George Washington created the senate to keep many bills from becoming law. Gridlock is the system working.

Evan Bayh came across as a man who wanted to get things done. He was surrounded by people who benefited from failing to get things done. Does anybody think that a guy who ran an entire state wants to have to deal with Barbara Boxer?

There is only one cynical school of thought that deserves any credence. Perhaps Bayh thought he would have lost his reelection.

The polls showed that he was up by 20 points. Under normal circumstances, he would have coasted to reelection. Yet 2010 is not shaping up to be a normal election year. Bayh would have been formidable, but I think he was beatable for two reasons.

2010 has the potential to be another 1994. 1994 saw some “unbeatable” politicians go down in flames. Texas Governor Ann RIchards had 70% popularity. She lost to George W. Bush, although that was a tough matchup for her. New York Governor Mario Cuomo lost to an obscure assemblyman that nobody had ever heard of, George Pataki. Only a toxic climate for Democrats like 1994 could allow that to happen.

The voters in those races were not voting for Bush and Pataki, nor were they voting against Richards and Cuomo. They were voting against Clinton. Indiana is a fairly conservative state. Mr. Obama lost the vote there in the primary and the general election. Mr. Bayh could get swept up in an anti-Obama midterm tidal wave. It is possible.

The other thing that hurt Mr. Bayh is that he was expecting to run against a non-descript Republican that he would quickly trounce. Then former Senator Dan Coats decided to come out of retirement and run for his old seat.

I am a believer that retired politicians should stay retired. I did not like it when Frank Lautenberg came back for his old seat in New Jersey. Yet like Mr. Lautenberg, Mr. Coats wants to come back, and nothing prevents this. Several years ago very respected Senator William Roth of Delaware looked unbeatable until successful Governor Tom Carper took him on. The same was the case in Massachusetts when Governor Bill Weld took on John Kerry. Bayh would have been formidable, but Coats would have been just as tough. LBJ refused to run for reelection right after Bobby Kennedy entered the race. Bayh was no longer safe.

(This column was written before word spread of Mr. Lautenberg being taken to the hospital. I wish him a speedy recovery, and the timing of his going there hours after I wrote about him is eerie.)

While there will be many theories, I am going to do something that most people refuse to do in our cynical times.

I am going to take Evan Bayh at his word. I owe him that.

Maybe he truly is fed up with being one of 100 people who accomplish virtually nothing. Maybe the guy would rather be an executive. I know I would. Maybe he wants to spend more time with his family. He seems to be relatively young and healthy, and waiting until one is sick and frail to spend time with loved ones seems pointless.

I did not agree with Evan Bayh on many issues, but I absolutely respected the decent and thoughtful manner in which he dealt with issues and people.

From a strategy standpoint, I am glad he is leaving. This will help the Republicans retake the Senate immensely.

From a civility standpoint, he will be missed.

Dan Coats, like Dan Quayle, Dick Lugar and Evan Bayh, is a quiet and respected individual in his home state.

Evan Bayh had very kind words for Dick Lugar. Dan Coats will continue the tradition of decency.

As for Evan Bayh, he was right when he said that, “If Washington was more like Indiana, Washington would work better.”

I wish Mr. Bayh well in his future endeavors. 2016 is a long way off, but Barack Obama will not be suspending the constitution and running for a third term. What should Democrats do? Support Joe Biden? Hillary Clinton? Barbara Boxer? Of course not.

Mr. Bayh has a bright future ahead of him, whatever he does.


8 Responses to “Bye Bye Bayh…But Why?”

  1. I think the real question is “why now?” And that would be because he left the GOP no time to find a better candidate. Coats is a disaster. I think Bayh was planning to retire for a while.

    I think Bayh was honesty frustrated with the way things have been going on the Hill. The Democrats had all the power and wasted it. The good thing – or the bad thing, depending on how you look at it – about the Democrats is that they are a huge tent. Unlike the GOP, the Democratic party voter base consists of a vast array of demographics and interests. It’s very difficult to get all those different minds to agree on much of anything.

    I think Bayh probably also believes that the Democrats are about to lose at least one of their majorities, and the Senate would be the most likely. One thing you see whenever majorities change is ex-majority figures resign. Democrats and Republicans do this all the time. The lose power and so decide they’re better off jumping ship. It’s funny, because many of them came in as minority candidates, parlaying minority status into electable position. But once you have it all and then lose it, it’s quite the let-down. I guess when you never had it to start with, it doesn’t matter as much.


  2. Dav Lev says:

    I am a moderate Republican. I want less government intruding in our
    lives, except for the military. I think government has created more problems than it has resolved. I believe most civil servants are honest
    people, but not accountable to the people (civil service is the 4th branch of government). Civil service runs the agencies..

    Many minorities have built power bases in civil service agencies.
    Affirmtive action is illegal, but impossible to dismantle. People in power
    stay in power.

    Our priority here in California is to get rid of the liberal legislators,
    both locally and nationally., to be replaced by ( hopefully) moderate
    conservatives and Republicans.

    I am not against conservative Democrats per se. I like Diane Feinstein.
    I deplore Barbara Boxer, who has achieved nothing for California, a state that is now insolvent and will be for years.

    People like Henry Waxman, Howard Berman and Barbara Boxer,
    must be dethroned. The sooner the better. We cannot afford more
    years of their liberalism, which is destroying our beautiful state.

    I do like Jane who represents Venice. She as been associated with
    a scandel that she had nothing to do with, and which, based on
    LA articles, never existed.

    Two AIPAC officials were trapped into receiving so-called classified into
    from an informant. It was alleged that Jane was contacted and a deal made to continue supporting the Democrats with a loca billionaires
    money, if she got the govt to back down on the investigation.

    The FBI never proved the above ever happened, the deal that is.

    She denied it.

    The two AIPAC officials were indicted true, but by a Justice Dept
    which was looking for anything to bolster George Bush’s war on
    terrorism. Ultimately, a Judge threw the entire charge is unfounded
    and if prosecuted, detrimental to US security.

    In essence, a civil servant was part of a spin to get these two
    officials convicted of treason. He was himself sentenced for
    initiating the original info giveaway…something done routinely
    between govt officials and lobbyists. He tried to save his ass, and
    was sentenced severely. The two officials have had their lives
    ruined by the allegations.

    Miss Harman is running for her seat again. She is strong on defense,
    was for the war in Iraq and for a strong Israel and USA. While
    a Democrat, she is a good Democrat. I like Mattie Fein, but am
    dismayed by her generalizing about civil servants. Tenure in teaching
    for example is more important than performance., which usually is
    not associated with who is teaching.

    In high school, I was an A student, as were about 10% of my fellow classmates. We have good teachers. About 40% of my fellow classmates dropped out before the 10th grade. They simply wanted to go to greener pastures, thought school was a waste of time, or became pregnant.

    Get it!

    You pay for what you get folks. Good salaries draw good teachers.
    Relying on performance will drive good teachers away, maybe to
    Wall Street, or AIG. Get it.

  3. “I am a moderate Republican. I want less government intruding in our
    lives, except for the military.”

    LOL! Dan wants a limited, small government, massive military empire! LOL!

    What a joke.


  4. Micky 2 says:

    Better than a puny military and this loser massive government we face now.
    I have a feeling in the not too distant future were going to need more military and a lot less talking heads

  5. Micky, with that attitude, one day we will meet the same fate as the old Soviet Union.


  6. Micky 2 says:

    Yeah Jersey, you go ahead and send the peace corps.
    I aint talkin no cold war, I’m talkin about puttin the fear of Allah in these guys and b*tch slappin em so they never think of screwing with us again. Way too much pussy footing going on by way too many talking heads.
    The only thing thats grown as a result of all this spending is government.
    Only 6% of Americans believe they’ve created any jobs.
    Big stinking joke creating themost stressed out environment this country has ever seensincethe 30s.
    Wall street execs jumpin out windows will be a sideshow compared to what were going to see. Thank God theres an election coming soon to take some the edge off the apprehension people are feeling.
    You and your buddys blew it, in record time.

    hope n change… pffft.

  7. Send the Peace Corps where?

    We don’t need to police the world. We don’t need to do business with the Middle Eastern kleptocrats. We don’t have to fear these people. Don’t be such a wus.

    The government is not creating jobs because they’re not spending the money to create jobs. Of the Recovery Act, a full third went to tax cuts, and another third went to entitlements, which jumped sky-high because of the economic disaster the Republicans left us. Only one third went to contracts, grants and loans directed at creating or saving jobs. Of that one third, the money is really only now just starting to get down to actually hiring people to do those jobs, with only 30-some-odd billion haveing been spent thus far. This year, jobs spending will be at that much every month.

    The problem with the Recovery Act is that it didn’t so enough!

    But hey, when your mantra is “lose all hope and expect no change” I guess there’s nothing that can please someone like you!


  8. Micky 2 says:

    “The government is not creating jobs because they’re not spending the money to create jobs.”

    thats not whay Obama said today

    ” because of the economic disaster the Republicans left us.”

    yeah, you kep telling yourself hat yet you’ve never been able to refute or counter the F&F CRA argument i handedyou about 10 times now which a 2008-9 democratic congress allowed courtest of Frank assuring us everything would be fine.

    “The problem with the Recovery Act is that it didn’t so enough!”

    he spent $787 billion dollars

    if you hired people at $40,000 a piece then you would have created … ummmmmm … $787 billion divided by $40,000 …

    ummmmm … 19,675,000 jobs …

    how is obama doing with that?

    “We don’t have to fear these people. ”

    which is why the majority of the country trust the right to fight terrorism.
    Who are “these people ” ?

    The ones trying to blowup their underwear or the ones flying planes into our buildings, blowing up our shipsand embassies or the ones shooting down our troops on base ?
    Or the ones that wont let IAEA inspect ? Or the ones launching rockets at Israel everyday ?
    Or the N. Koreans countrfeiting our dolar and selling God knows what to Iran ?

    Who are “these” people Jersey ?

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