Posted Monday, Nov. 1, 2010, at 9:12 AM
It's not usually a good idea to write off of a negative reaction to a TV show. It works for recaps of reality shows, perhaps, but not politics. But I have watched Evan Bayh, the retiring senator from Indiana, bring his Eeyore act to Morning Joe and I'm not sure if enough people are pointing out how glib and useless he is.
I don't think this needs to be a partisan argument. If you're a Democrat, watching Bayh predict that his party will only lose seven seats is remote-control-through-the-screen stuff -- Bayh quit his job with $13 million in the bank and polls showing him with a very good chance of holding his seat. It's now one of the three to five seats seen as certain to go Republican.
But if you're a Republican, surely you find Bayh's circus act tiring, too. This is a guy who voted with his party on every significant vote of the Obama presidency thus far -- Supreme Court judges, health care reform, stimulus package, all of it that actually got through the Senate. And yet whenever he gets a microphone, he whines that Obama made too many moves to the left and ignored the center. All by himself, Evan? We're lucky this guy didn't find his calling as a guidance counselor.
The problem with Bayh is that almost everything he says is useless and divorced from context, and he doesn't do much more than talk. The victory of Scott Brown "should have been a wake-up call," he said to Morning Joe hosts. A wake-up call to do what? To not add to the debt. But did he support the health care bill? Yes, it was a great achievement, but the timing was wrong for a "spending bill." The CBO says the bill is actually going to cut the deficit , but no matter -- Bayh is feeling at you, from his gut, and he thinks that bill he voted for was a disaster that was a great achievement, or something.
Watching Bayh it's clear that he is a senator. It's not clear why. Did he introduce the Bayh Fiscal Austerity Bill of 2009? Did he crack heads over the Bayh Lawsuit Reform Bill of 2010? Not as far as I can tell. Here, according to Bayh's website , are the last bills he sponsored.
A resolution recognizing the immeasurable contributions of fathers in the healthy development of children, supporting responsible fatherhood, and encouraging greater involvement of fathers in the lives of their families, especially on Father's Day.
A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend the deduction for qualified motor vehicle taxes for motor homes.
Good for the economy!
A resolution supporting and recognizing the goals and ideals of "RV Centennial Celebration Month" to commemorate 100 years of enjoyment of recreation vehicles in the United States.
Yes, naturally, given their tax deductions.
A bill to provide fiscal discipline through a freeze on spending and budget process reforms.
Ah, here's an actual idea, except there's no apparent difference between this and what the Obama administration has talked about vis a vis spending freezes. This is a year of legislating from one of the 100 people -- okay, 535 people, but the Senate really holds the keys -- with a say over what Congress will do on economic policy.
But maybe it's not Bayh's fault. Maybe, as he says, it's that the process doesn't let things get done. Great! Except Bayh never explains exactly what the process is, or what's wrong with it. In an
interview with Ezra Klein
, he sort of meandered towards a critique of the filibuster, with Klein providing the facts.
BAYH: No one ever built the filibuster rule. It just kind of was created.
KLEIN: Aaron Burr.
BAYH: Was Aaron Burr responsible?
KLEIN: Aaron Burr said you guys should get rid of the motion on the proceeding question, just because it's redundant. They did that, and 30 years later someone recognized that they had just created the filibuster.
Think about the vacuity on display here. Every day, Bayh wakes up and fails to do anything in large part because the minority party filibusters most significant legislation. It
never occurs to him
to examine where the filibuster came from. Twelve years in the Senate, four of them in the majority, and his only insight is... well, I can't tell what it is. Nothing should give Obama supporters as much doubt in their man's political acumen than the fact that this quivering mound of generic brand jell-o was on the shortlist for the vice presidency.