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Evan Bayh's reasons why

By Ben Pershing
Washington and Indiana politics were shaken Monday by the surprising announcement from Evan Bayh that he won't run for reelection. So why did Bayh do it? Let's examine the three most prominent theories:

1) He Was Tired of the Partisanship. This is the prevailing narrative, unsurprising given that the national media has been writing stories on bipartisanship in Washington and the lack thereof for weeks. "Two-term Sen. Evan Bayh says ever-shriller partisanship and the frustrations of gridlock made it time for him to leave Congress," the Associated Press ledes, adding: "Republicans aren't buying it, saying he and fellow Democrats sense that voters will be after their heads this fall." The New York Times says Bayh "was among the most prominent of moderate Democrats in Congress, but has been increasingly isolated over the past year as he has warned Democratic Congressional leaders that the push for big-ticket and expensive legislation was scaring off independent voters." Jill Lawrence thinks "the fact is that centrists and pragmatists, the people in both parties who normally serve as bridge-builders and consensus-builders, have no function in these days of lockstep discipline (attempted among Democrats, usually successful on the GOP side)."

2) He Didn't Like the Senate Anyway. Bayh himself said Monday, "I do not love Congress," and those who followed his career knew that already. Politico says Bayh's decision "marks not only an exit from a Senate he's never much loved but also the end of a once-promising national political career that never quite lived up to the hype. ... From his election in 1998 ... it seemed his chief political interest was in how quickly he could get out of the Senate." The Washington Post writes: "Although Bayh pointed to the lack of bipartisan spirit as his main reason, those who know him say that he never seemed at ease in the Senate and that, with his aspirations for higher office disappointed, the price of public office may have been too high. ... Bayh rarely asserted himself on controversial issues ... and he often frustrated his Democratic colleagues by remaining on the periphery during major debates -- including the health-care reform effort that consumed most of last year." Steve Kornacki says "good riddance" to Bayh and his belief that "you can dream big dreams if you're a Democrat from Indiana -- you just can't be proud to be a Democrat. And that has been the defining principle (to the extent there's been one) in Evan Bayh's quarter-century political career."

3) He's Planning Something Else. "I'm an executive at heart," Bayh said Monday. Barring a surprise run for county supervisor or dog-catcher, his electoral future holds two potential destinations -- the statehouse or the White House. Larry Sabato Tweets that Bayh "might have been hinting at POTUS run in '16, not just an IN GOV bid in '12," Huffington Post notes. "Even as Bayh was announcing his plans not to run for re-election this year, questions and speculation came fast and furious. Is he running for governor in 2012? Is he planning a rebellious bid for president? What is his angle?" Matthew Tully writes, but concludes that "in a rational world, the idea of a middle-aged man tiring of the political system and deciding to move on should make perfect sense." Chuck Lane posits that Bayh's exit leaves him "perfectly positioned to mount a centrist primary challenge to Obama in 2012, depending on circumstances." (Challenge a sitting president in the Democratic primary -- from the middle? Really?) Allahpundit asks, "if he wants to be president, why not suck it up for another six years? He's already been governor so there's nothing left for him to run for; it's possible that he thinks quitting now will set him up as a Beltway 'outsider' for 2016, but it's going to so lower his profile that people may not remember who he is by then." Gawker doesn't think much of the Bayh-for-president theory.

Of course, Republicans' preferred theory is that Bayh is quitting because he feared he would lose in November. At this point, most Democrats are already beyond caring why Bayh made his decision, and are more worried about holding on to the Senate. USA Today reports Bayh "boosted Republican hopes of major gains this election year when he abruptly announced Monday that he will retire. ... Bayh, 54, became the latest Democratic casualty in a year when the party has been pummeled over the economy and Obama's plans to reshape the nation's health care system." The Fix says "the national implications of Bayh's retirement are considerable. Political handicapper Charlie Cook now carries 10 Democratic-held seats in his most competitive categories, meaning that if Republicans run the table and don't lose any of their own vulnerable seats they could take back the Senate. With so little room for error, however, it's still a long shot for Republicans to take over the upper chamber." The Indianapolis Star writes: "With Bayh's exit, Cook switched to 'lean Republican.' He said he probably should make it stronger for the GOP. 'I think we are being very cautious,' Cook said, 'because frankly, Republicans would have to screw this up pretty badly to not win this seat.'"

"Party leaders said privately that Mr. Bayh's decision caught them off guard," the Wall Street Journal reports, a detail echoed in other stories. Roll Call says it wasn't a complete surprise: "[An] aide said Democratic leaders have spent the past year trying to convince Bayh to run for re-election. A second senior aide suggested that the majority's leadership has been anticipating the possibility of Bayh's retirement, which is why the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has worked diligently over the past few weeks to tar former Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), who is running for his old seat." For his part, MIchael Steele thinks Bayh is "running for the hills" because he "sold out" his constituents.

Ezra Klein writes that because Bayh dropped out so late, "the timing suggests he also doesn't want the Democrats to hold his seat anymore." Rishawn Biddle argues "it was precisely this well-practiced fence-straddling between conservatism and liberalism that led to Bayh's downfall. The anger and fatigue among Hoosier voters over the current recession -- combined with President Obama's unpopularity -- are hurting all Democrats, but Bayh was hurt even worse by the perception among both conservatives and liberals that he stood for his own political ambitions (and occasionally, his wife's business interests) than for any consistent ideology."

By Ben Pershing  |  February 16, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Rundown  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Cheney, Biden go back and forth on terror policy
Next: Frank Lautenberg recovering from ulcer, fall


Bye Bayh and good riddance! This announcement by Bayh is no great loss to the Dems and I find irony in Bayh's comments that Congress isn't working. Bayh is the one that wasn't working and he was a liability to Health Care Reform which over 70% of American's want due to his wife working for Wellpoint! Hence the reason Bayh would not vote for the public option, which would control health care costs.

Posted by: animalspirit | February 17, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Bayh owes Democrats nothing. The Democrats are deserving of all they are about to get for allowing their party to be taken over by these radical liberal progressives. So let them whine because Bayh just saw the writing on the wall. The people have been ignored but worse, disrespected. Those arrogant deaf liberals think they are a special protected class spending our money. The Stimulus I was not a jobs bill. It was a cruel joke that paid special interests. The Cap and Tax is based on lies. Worst of all was the massive expensive horrific so called health care bill that was a government takeover of one sixth of our economy and had nothing to do with cost reform nor did it include tort reform. So Bayh understands the people are mad. We are tired of the stunts, the back room deals, the bribes, the lack of transparency, the earmarks, and double talk. We are also tired of the President trying to transfer all those things he and his have been guilty of all along onto others. Frankly, we have just had our fill.

Posted by: greatgran1 | February 16, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Look scrivener50 the microwaves are happening, but its not just targeting individuals. These towers are capable of heating oxygen and reducing the level that is available for breathing in the air itself. If someone somewhere doesn't do something about this more people will continue to die due to strange/random events (like Murtha for example), or Michael Jackson for another example.Have you noticed the hum sound? Can you see the brightness that persists in the skies all over the US no matter how much it rains? Have you noticed that its raining non-stop since the towers have been given there new mission at or around the beginning of 2009? There is only one really good thing that will come out of this. I am sure that congress had something to do with allowing this much radiation to come out of these "cell towers" and these old people are and will die first. Whomever has set these cell towers up in there current mission has put equipment onsite that can track the level of oxygen in the air and I also happen to know that the towers are able to regulate the oxygen to stay beneath a certain level and use varying microwave strengths to accomplish this goal. That scrivener50 is what is really happening. Now all of you do SOMETHING WORTH WHILE and get inside one of the buildings near the "cell phone" towers and film what's inside, so the public can find out how the "cell phone" towers are able to increase and decrease the radiation levels. A great next step would be for some of the TARDS everywhere to use there meters and start reporting on the radiation levels coming out of them, which judging by the effect on my network equipment and by how they gave me radiation fever last week that figure must be pretty darn high!!

Your "cell towers" are doing more than is advertised. That is a fact sir I have weatherstation imagery which proves the radiation levels are strong enough to effect the visible atmosphere:
If something is effecting the visible atmosphere it can and will affect people!!

Wake up America!!

Posted by: jackson26 | February 16, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Or maybe Bayh has seen and heard more than he can stand from obama and the democrats and rather than cause the party a problem he leaves so as to not be a party to what they are planning in their back rooms.

Posted by: tjmlrc | February 16, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

If Bayh really wanted to change Washington and better serve America, why not stay in Congress and do it from within? That makes more sense than going into "higher education" or the garbage he said at his presser. This is all about the White House...

Posted by: parkerfl1 | February 16, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse


Did someone on the dark side order a microwave hit on 86-year-old Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to cause his fall and hospitalization -- perhaps precipitating a shift in the Senate balance of power even before Bayh retires? Or could such a Machiavellian evil just never happen in the USA?

Look at the venal comments on

...then read this before you answer:


• Regional Homeland Security- administered fusion centers use a nationwide, precision-targeted microwave/laser electromagnetic microwave/laser weapon system to silently torture, impair, neurologically and physically subjugate citizens deemed to be dissidents or undesirables -- an American genocide hiding in plain sight.

• Financial sabotage, police-protected community "watch" vigilante harassment, warrantless GPS stalking of thousands of extrajudicially "targeted" citizens and entire families.

• Victims' own cell phones may be used to target them for silent impairment.

• How a young FBI agent's "I believe you" gave victim the faith to go public.

• Bucks County, PA- based MAGLOCLEN fusion center: "Mid-Atlantic States Ground Zero of a Multi-Agency Federal-Local Extrajudicial Gestapo"

• When will Obama administration stop covering up -- and act to restore the rule of law? OR OR ("stories" list)

Posted by: scrivener50 | February 16, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

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