Time Passes Bayh: Moderates Shuffling to the Door

February 15, 2010
By John

Senator Bayh Calls It Quits

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal today, Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) is not running for re-election this year.  In explanatory comments made just a few moments ago, he claims it is because of the ‘excessive partisan gridlock’ that plagues Congress.   If that excuse rings hollow to you, you’re not alone.

Bye-Bye Evan Bayh

This ‘centrist’ Senator has been part and parcel of a Progressive revolution the last few years, and has the votes to prove it.  His team had 60 votes in the Senate and a strong majority in the House.  It had a popular Progressive President to lead it, and a media that was firmly in its pocket.  It could pass whatever it wanted without any Republican votes.  And they used this power to have their way with us – at least until Scott Brown and the Massachusetts Miracle put a little sand on the gears.  Trillions in wasteful new spending, trillions in deficits as far as the eye can see, and huge new federal bureaucracies can be laid at the feet of a Progressive Congress that replaced the feckless DeLay-led Republicans in 2006.  And Bayh did nothing to stop it.

I agree with him that the level of vitriol is too high in DC and in our politics.  I don’t like the personalization of disputes (see Rough Truths the February 7, 2010 column entitled “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?  Restoring Civil Government in the United States”).  But the Indiana Senator has been spared most of this noise – perhaps because he knows how to keep his pants on and his voice down.   So while partisanship is brutal in Washington, it’s a pathetic excuse when you have dominant majorities.

So what’s his gripe?  You’d think having ‘just’ 59 votes would open an opportunity for supposed centrists to reset the DC agenda.  You’d think Bayh would want to be the guy who would lead the effort.  Wouldn’t a bona fide centrist be tempted to reach out to Lindsay Graham, John McCain and Orrin Hatch to find common ground?  Wouldn’t he relish a chance to buck his statist colleagues and reclaim his credentials as a sensible moderate?  After taking the shots for a Wilsonian agenda, are you buying he just can’t bear the rough and tumble of his profession?  Me neither.

There are only a few plausible explanations.

Option One:   He read the tea leaves.  There is going to be an electoral Tsunami in November – the polls, the crowds in the street, and the national balance sheet are a daily confirmation of what is coming.  The Democrats are looking at an 1894-like wipe out (yes, that 1894… the year the Democrats lost 130 house seats and the Congress for a generation).  And it is even coming to calm and sensible Indiana.

Senator Bayh, a self-styled moderate who relishes playing the role of the reasonable mid-westerner, doesn’t want to end his career in failure because he spent too much time consorting with a wildly irresponsible, left-wing crowd.  After all, he is only 54 and undoubtedly still hopes he might be on a Presidential ticket someday.   A loss this fall could end those hopes for this scion of Indiana’s leading Democrat family.

Option Two:  He looked in the mirror, and didn’t like what he saw. Senator Bayh spent his adult years cultivating an image as a fiscally conservative, socially moderate Democrat.  By all accounts, he actually governed that way when he was the state’s Governor in the 90’s.  But over the last few years, he quietly joined his progressive Democrat colleagues in voting for an agenda that would make George McGovern blush.  By supporting the bailouts, stimulus and Obamacare fiascos this last year, he fully re-branded himself as a liberal.  Oops.

It’s just possible that Senator Bayh really wanted to be the centrist guy he plays on TV.  Maybe he played the good soldier and went along with his team in hopes of getting points for some future moderation.  And maybe they threw a few hundred million in goodies his way (maybe the Disaster State Housing Recovery Act?) to make it easier to swallow his better judgment. I’m willing to concede he may have had serious doubts about  legislation he supported – but so what?  The spending binge that started when the Pelosi left took over has been breathtaking, and he did little but squeak a few meager objections before going along for the ride.

So maybe, just maybe, his inner grown-up awoke.  Maybe he looked at what his votes and his silence had wrought.  Maybe he is recoiling in horror and embarrassment.  And if this is true, welcome back Senator.   Too bad you’re leaving after you set the barn on fire.   But at least you had the decency to leave when you realized you betrayed much of what you said you care about.

Option Three: He is a closet wimp.   There, I said it.  I don’t like insults – but this rings true.  We’ve all been hoping the so-called moderates would step up and stop the madness.  They’ve been promising they would be tempering influece if the Democrats were returned to power.  They either lied, or just chickened out.  Bayh, Lincoln, Dorgan, Nelson and the rest of the centrists have been selling themselves as voices of moderation inside the Democrat caucus and to us for many years – and have periodically joined with Republican moderates to foil Republican presidents.   Yet when the Democrats had 60 votes and a Democrat in the White House, they apparently forgot those promises   And now that they need Republicans to join them to do anything – and when they would actually be able to re-steer the agenda toward sanity – they are getting ready to retire or be swept from office.   Nice work, guys.

Maybe I’ll write a column I’ll call “Profiles in Wimpiness” about these fake moderates some day soon.

What Went Wrong for the Democrats?

Bayh’s exit tells you just how far the Democrats have gone off the rails.  After all, this guy should win a statewide race in Indiana in a cakewalk.  He’s a popular two-term senator and was a successful governor, too.  His last name is a consumer brand there, and he’s a Democrat that many Republican’s want to love.  How could he have fallen so fast, and so far?

Channeling Woodrow Wilson: Dems Resurrected Hated Progressive Agenda

Rough Truths believes the end came when the Democrats swiped Norm Coleman’s Minnesota Senate seat for Al Franken in 2009.  This allowed a very liberal majority in both houses of Congress to collaborate with the most Progressive President since Wilson to enact a statist agenda in a flurry of executive orders, legislation and appointments.  And in their arrogance, they aroused a center-right country into something approaching a state of rage.

Bayh’s actions have proven the Rough Truths Dictum on Politics: There are no moderate Democrats in Washington unless Republicans are in charge.

Honest Concession to Readers:  Rough Truths admits the evidence suggests the inverse may also be true – i.e., that there are very few conservative Republicans in Washington unless Democrats are in charge.

If the President had been magnanimous in victory and governed as he had campaigned – seeking consensus and focusing on areas where both sides could come together – he could have easily co-opted the defeated Republicans and seized control of Washington for a generation.  Bayh could have been a leader in this effort.  While he would have enraged the left, he could have been a player for years to come.  And despite the inevitable howling from the Huffington Post crowd, the Democrat majority could have gotten 70% of its agenda into law in term or two, and earned political stripes to push for more in years to come.

Call Back the Clowns: Didn't We Dump These Guys Once Before?

But the Democrats are led by the same tin-eared, corrupt, greedy and ideologically centered group that got tossed in 1994, with a few extra wrinkles and ten gallons of hair dye tossed in for good measure.   The same faces, same names and same bad habits are back in the same chairs –  think Rangel, Dodd, Waxman, Dingell , Leahy, Miller, Frank, Berman and more – they are back  and they’re more leftist than ever with San Francisco’s Nancy Pelosi and a compliant Harry Reid in charge.

They over-reached, and paradoxically we have benefitted from this once-in-a-generation flirtation with Progressivism.  It hurts, but we are rejecting it with extraordinary speed and vehemence.   So I suppose we should say thank you.  Sort of.

What Should We Do Now?

Politically, Bayh’s announcement suggests the Democrats are preparing to cede the November elections before a vote is cast.  And if a stalwart like Evan Bayh is out, we can expect a lot more Democrats to follow him into early concession speeches.  And that means that independents, conservatives and Tea Partiers can focus their resources on other tough races.  And that means even more incumbents will be gone.

But what will we do with this opportunity?

It means that the 40% of Americans who call themselves conservatives, and the 30% of the rest who hold conservative social or fiscal views, need to make a bargain.  We can throw the Progressives out by just saying no to their agenda – and that’s already a done deal.  The pundits who say objecting isn’t enough are wrong – we are disgusted enough that we could end up throwing out boatloads of elected officials from both parties.   But we need to find common ground on good governance, and not over-step in areas where we don’t agree.  And there’s plenty to agree upon.

Returning to Basics: Constitutional Restoration Key to Civil Governance

So how about an agenda that focuses on economic and personal freedom?  How about we win on a restoration agenda – one that looks at the disastrous mistakes of the last couple decades and ‘walks us back’ to sanity?   How about we find and hold accountable candidates who will lay down on the railroad tracks to restore the federal-state balance, and support family control and individual responsibility?  A few specific ideas on our shared agenda might include:

  1. How about we elect people committed to getting Washington out of our personal lives and local governments instead of intruding ever more deeply into our bedrooms, our schools, our homes, our parks, our businesses, our churches and our mayor’s offices?
  2. How about we find ways to liberate the trillions of dollars in natural resources and productive capacity that are trapped by oppressive regulation and nanny-state policies?  And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of the overlapping regulatory apparatus that keep creating these stupid rules like some kind of federalized Medusa.
  3. How about we deliver control of the 1/3 of America that is owned by the Federal Government’s bureaucracies into private and state hands – where its value can be realized and our people employed through its wise use?
  4. How about we recognize that we’re in a global economy, and that our economic restoration requires that we help our industries become more competitive here instead of taking foolish steps that chase them offshore?
  5. How about we get our priorities straight – and stop chasing destructive (and often fraudulent) enviro-labor-social agenda items which impoverish our spirit, our liberties and our economy?
  6. How about we restore Constitutional government, and demand that our judges, Congressmen and Executive to live by their oath of office or risk removal?
  7. How about we stop spending more than we tax, and tax in ways that maximize economic growth and domestic  private job creation?
  8. And finally, how about we restructure public entitlement and pension spending so we don’t go broke?

There is plenty of room for discussion about specifics on defense, foreign policy and domestic spending within this agenda – and there will be big arguments – but it would give direction to a government that seems bent on control and fiscal calamity.

And if we can agree on this kind of agenda outline, we’ll have time to work out the details while Evan and his buddies are busy checking their mailboxes for retirement checks.

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One Response to “ Time Passes Bayh: Moderates Shuffling to the Door ”

  1. Grocery Clerk on February 16, 2010 at 3:55 am

    O.K. it’ late, I’m tired, and there is so much here to comment on. Let’s just say it’s loaded, and I hope I can expound at length another day.

    For now I would like to say that no amount of piling on this guy would be inappropriate. This post starts out w/ a hint of that, but it ends up w/ some very high-minded, altrustic, forward-looking stuff. While I agree wholeheartedly that that is where we want to wind up, I can’t help but wonder if we can ever get there w/out letting all these guys (on both sides) reap the full consequences of their actions. The public pillories of old have perhaps been absent for far too long. Shouldn’t the internet be fully applied as their modern counterpart?

    So yes, let’s not take our collective eye off of where we want to take our country (ostensibly that is back to the one The Founders left us) but let us not fail to unequivocably state our public scorn for this weasel, and all like him who have built their lives on public adulation. Lord knows they most certainly have enough money squirreled away to deal w/ the coming hard times which they have wrought.

    Did I say ‘weasel?’ Why, yes – what else do we call someone who had a chance to let us believe in option #2 w/ an appropriate mea culpa, but went out w/ a near Torricelli whine instead? He expects us to believe that he’s not part of the problem, everybody else is. Oh, really? Or is it options 1&2 combined?

    So for now I say what are his kid’s e-mail & facebook and twitter addresses/ contacts? Send them this blog. Send them the explanation of ‘Indiana Slut’ that a caller offered on Rush this morning (if Nelson, Landrieu, et al are whores for selling thier votes for OBAMA(doesn’t)CARE, then what else do we call the trash that just gives it away?). Let them know that if an entire nation isn’t fooled by their father’s denial of accountability, they don’t have to pretend to be either.

    Is holding him accountable to his kids a step too far? I think not. Clearly the ‘man in the mirror’ looks just fine to this scab, because he must have a portrait in the attic that would give Jason/Freddie/Zombie/Saw Movie fans nightmares. And it wouldn’t be like attacking Sarah Palin’s kids in an effort to intimidate her. Don’t his kids deserve a chance to opt out of the Faustian deal that either he or his dad made w/ the Devil himself?

    Take, for example, Chelsea Clinton (not half as homely as some made her out to be, and I don’t support the ad hominem attacks). Although she’s a part of the Clinton Machine now,wasn’t there a time when she was innocent? Even now, shouldn’t she be told that character isn’t inherited, it’s something a person can develop on their own, independent of their parents? It is a gift you can give to yourself. Doesn’t she deserve to know that it doesn’t depend on what your definition of ‘is’ is?

    And just think, if Chelsea could be turned, isn’t it possible that she could save her parents from the dark side? Isn’t that what we are supposed to do – pray for our enemies and work for their salvation? But enough wishful thinking.

    Senator Bayh, you are beneath contempt. The problem for us as a nation, the roadblock to your salvation, and the stumbling block for your progeny is that you will find yourself neither lonely nor impoverished down there. I may be just a grocery clerk with a high school diploma, but I can’t wait to throw you out with yesterday’s culled tomatoes.


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