Evan Bayh, the Perfect Choice for a Flip Flopper

by: Matt Stoller

Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 14:53


Ari Melber has a great piece on Bayh.  The money quote is here, on Iran.  

You just hope that we haven't soured an entire generation on the necessity, from time to time, of using force because Iraq has been such a debacle. That would be tragic, because Iran is a grave threat. They're everything we thought Iraq was but wasn't. They are seeking nuclear weapons, they do support terrorists, they have threatened to destroy Israel, and they've threatened us, too.

As Jonathan Schwartz says, "You really have to hand it to The System. They do good work."  Bayh, incidentally, is also one of the bad guys on partial birth abortion.

Obama would do a great service by resisting the siren call to pick this guy.  While I'd still pull the lever for an Obama/Bayh ticket, Bayh as VP really would turn this contest into a lesser of two evils type race.  And as VP, if Bayh's going to help Obama govern, that's discouraging.  And if Bayh ever has to step in as President, God help us.

Matt Stoller :: Evan Bayh, the Perfect Choice for a Flip Flopper

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"They're everything we thought Iraq was but wasn't." (4.00 / 5)
Okay, Charlie Brown...

Working for Obama is getting harder by the day as it is... (4.00 / 1)
if he picks Bayh or someone like him, I will have zero enthusiasm.  I was never a big Obama fan, but was encouraged by his pledge to build the party.  Since we're only seeing/hearing lip service paid to that, I'm worried.

Bayh is about the worse possible choice, (0.00 / 0)
other than Hagel.

No one is talking about Sebelilius, so I hope it's her. Or Clark.  

Here's my hope.  All this talk about Bayh and Kaine, all the moderate speakers like McCaskill, Warner, the Clintons, means Obama will actually pick a Minstream Democrat instead of a "conservative" Dem like Bayh.  This is their payoff.

Clark would be so good, especially with the Russia/Georgia thing.  And he is far more progressive then the other names we hear.

I think Sebelius may go downward with all the international problems.  That may be good for Clark, or Kerry, or Biden.  Yes, I'll take Biden over the Bayh's or Kaines.    


Shorter Ari Melber Quote (4.00 / 5)
Is it:

(A) Faith-based violence good! Reality-based diplomacy bad!

or

(b) Reality is the enemy.  It must be destroyed!

or

(c) I'm not a Democrat, I just play one on TV.


"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


Matt, please relax (3.00 / 4)
You are hyperventilating about something that has not happened, based on some guy's word on HuffPo that "word has reached" him from Hawaii that there's a "50/50 chance".
Take a pill. Concentrate your writing skills on things that are really, ACTUALLY wrong in the world. There are plenty of them. You can complain about Obama's VP choice next week. Judging by your past pieces, there's no one that would satisfy you. I think if he picked YOU, you'd complain he was pandering to the Right.

Right (4.00 / 14)
And after he picks Bayh, you and others will be saying, "Stop bitching, Matt, that does no good now--the choice has been made."



[ Parent ]
Yep (4.00 / 7)
coupled with that old favorite "maybe you should have said something when it could have made a difference."

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
No (4.00 / 2)
If he picks Bayh, I would disappointed, but will harbor no illusions about the effectiveness of Matt's bitching.
Bayh is a douche, we can all agree. He would be a terrible choice. But Matt is spreading panic about an unsourced rumor, and that is not productive.


[ Parent ]
Just how is Matt spreading "panic"? (4.00 / 4)
He's trying to spread influence, by virtue of the written word. Isn't that one of the higher purposes of blogging?

Methinks you are spreading "panic" about Matt doing his job. :-)

435 Dem Primaries 2012
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[ Parent ]
An unsourced rumor, that is likely to be factual. (4.00 / 5)
Point is of course that it isn't just Matt who is "bitching" If it was you'd have a point. But seeing that it's everybody in the blogosphere who beliefs that the selection of Bayh would be extremely bad. Not just the people who are regarded "over enthusiastic" by some, but also people like Steve Clemons. The combined effect of all that "bitching" just might influence the actual outcome if the rumor is true, which is very plausible.

[ Parent ]
West Wing Time (4.00 / 2)
Toby: Mr. Vice President, what do you know that I don't?

Hoynes: Toby, the total tonnage of what I know that you don't could stun a team of oxen in its tracks. Good night.

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.


[ Parent ]
You are the one jumping to conclusions and panicking. (4.00 / 1)
If you don't know that the squeaky wheel works in politics, you know nothing. It doesn't always work, but it is the only thing that works besides money.  

[ Parent ]
I disagree . . . (4.00 / 6)
The more Bayh is discussed on the progressive blogs, the more chance (albeit meagre) there is to pressure Obama--maybe not in altering his choice for VP, but maybe on some other issues down the road.

[ Parent ]
Once the VP candidate is announced, (4.00 / 4)
it's a little late to have an impact.  Perhaps if someone is reading Matt's and Ari's concerns, they might think twice before making such a stupid decision.

[ Parent ]
Then voice concerns (4.00 / 3)
Matt isn't voicing concerns.  He's complaining about Obama for something he hasn't done.  I'm perfectly fine with worrying about Bayh, but that's completely different than saying "Obama is bad for picking Bayh" which has essentially been what Matt has said all day.

[ Parent ]
Take another look . . . (4.00 / 1)
at what Matt actually wrote, especially the verb tense.

[ Parent ]
There was this tense... (4.00 / 1)
in the other thread, "And I have to say, Mark Warner keynoting - and we know what's going to say - and Evan Bayh as VP, suggests that Obama's campaign and governing agenda will be extremely small-bore."

He also quoted Schwartzman, "You really have to hand it to The System. They do good work."

Anyway, there is a lot of hand-wringing about Obama based on rumors from Steve Clemons.  I like Clemons a lot, he does great work, but who knows how good his sources are.  He did, in February, fuel a rumor that Gore was about to endorse Obama.  Anyway, again, not trying to take down Clemons, I'd just be shocked if anybody had that good of information on where Obama is going with this pick.  

If he picks Bayh, I'll be pretty disheartened, not as much as others on here, but quite upset.  I'd be disappointed in Obama, but also the Left, as it would show we aren't strong enough to force something better from our candidate.  But I'm going to withhold judgement of Obama because who knows what's going on.  Maybe he'll pick Sebellius or Clark and all of this stress will be for naught.  


[ Parent ]
It's clear . . . (0.00 / 0)
from this thread as well as your quote for the other thread that Matt is speaking in the future tense--i.e. the consequences IF Obama picks Bayh.

[ Parent ]
That is Made (4.00 / 1)
"I like certain parts of the Obama team, and think that this can be headed off at any point in the next few years, but every decision like this that is made further constrains the options of progressives within Congress and activists outside of it."

He uses future tense sometimes, and past tense others.  Regardless, it's a lot of anger directed at Obama over a rumor.


[ Parent ]
Well, (0.00 / 0)
Perhaps those past tenses in those places reflect the times Obama moved his position to right of center to seem more "centrist" for no positive effect what so ever, while suffering collateral damage amongst progressives, his reputation and his campaign.

...

The Fisa vote for example.


[ Parent ]
You are misunderstanding the grammar. (0.00 / 0)
When he says, "but every decision like this that is made further constrains the options of progressives within Congress and activists outside of it," he is using the passive voice, not the past tense.

Nothing with "is" in it can be the past tense. "is made" is very similar to the present perfect tense, an example of which would be "is going".  It denotes ongoing action.  This expression doesn't do that, since "made" specifies action that is complete.  Nevertheless, those decisions which are made are being added to a collection of similar decisions, so the tendency, at least, is ongoing.

But I digress.  Matt is talking about a tendency which may be ongoing, namely the tendency to do the conventional instead of instituting change.  He is saying that tendency can be ended at any time.  No past tense.  No fait accompli.


[ Parent ]
I'd be interested in hearing the case for Bayh (0.00 / 0)
...because I haven't heard it yet.  It would be a very cautious pick.  Better than the 2000 VP pick.  It still says something that virtually all of the serious VP candidates are from the conservative half -- as fuzzy as that line is -- of the Democratic party.  A better way to describe it is that they all seem to be favorites of the Washington Democratic establishment.  None of them seem like the type to rock the boat or rock the vote.  The first job of a VP is to do no harm.  I hope at least that requirement will be filled easily.

Case? For Bayh? Surely You Jest! (4.00 / 5)
He's a Versailles member in good standing.  What else do you want?

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Versailles member? (4.00 / 1)
Honest, I'm not being snarky but I just don't understand that reference.

Somebody, somewhere nust have a reason for thinking he would be a great VP choice.  My mom, who is very wise about these things said that Bayh has made no impression at all over his decade & half career as Governor & Senator other than he is "nice looking."


[ Parent ]
The Greater Beltway--"Let Them Eat Tax Credits" (0.00 / 0)
You know, the out-of-touch aristocrats who think they are the country.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Popular in IN (and sort of the Midwest) (0.00 / 0)
That's probably the biggest reason.  Other than that, he's not terribly controversial (at least as far as his proneness to gaffes), and for whatever reason has foreign policy "cred" (to the media elite anyway).  Some might consider it an "olive branch" to Hillary supporters, since he supported her in the primary.  

Ummm... I'm not really sure what else he brings to the table.  He's... white?

Yeah, picking Bayh would be a mistake, but I also do think Matt is freaking out a bit more than necessary (again).  There are still far worse possibilities, and more things to worry about.


[ Parent ]
What else do you want? (4.00 / 1)
I want to ban the use of "Versailles" and "Village" from discourse about Washington politics. This is a left website I get the contempt everyone has for the Washington DC political establishment. The repetitive use of these corn ball snarky descriptors is exhausting.

(Paul I'm not intending to single out you on this, your comment was just convenient.)

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare


[ Parent ]
The case for Bayh goes something like this: (4.00 / 10)
He has foreign policy "experience" (experience being repeatedly wrong, but never mind.)

He would help deliver Indiana (never mind that VPs seldom deliver their home states.)

As a Hillary supporter he would mollify her critics (never mind the ostensible reasons Obama didn't pick Hillary is that she's a DC fixture--like Bayh.)

He would help attract the white working class (never mind that his free-trading corporatism turns off the working class.)

He's actually pretty liberal for Indiana, especially lately, voting against Bush's Supreme Court nominees and Condi Rice, for example (never mind that he's far more hawkish and centrist on economic policy than his state demands.)

As an attractive white man with crisp, immovable hair, he would be "reassuring" (Maybe so.)


[ Parent ]
The Case for Bayh (0.00 / 0)
is the one Nate Silver made the other day.  I'm not really pursuaded, but it's interesting nonetheless.

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com...

"Put differently, there is no senator more liberal than Bayh in any state more conservative than Indiana."

"Bayh became somewhat liberal between the 108th and 109th Congresses. What happened between the 108th and 109th Congresses? Bayh won re-election by a landslide margin, and perhaps recognized that he had a little bit more wiggle room to move from the right edge of the Democratic Party more toward the Party's mainstream. The only reason this might occur, I would argue, is that Bayh is at heart a fairly progressive senator"

Who knows, but it's some data.


[ Parent ]
His overall record isn't that good .. (4.00 / 3)
Bayh won re-election by a landslide margin, and perhaps recognized that he had a little bit more wiggle room to move from the right edge of the Democratic Party more toward the Party's mainstream. The only reason this might occur, I would argue, is that Bayh is at heart a fairly progressive senator"

but are you saying that the old man might have knocked some sense into the son?  I don't buy it.  Evan Bayh wants to double down on Iran.  That's not good.


[ Parent ]
But as a VP he won't be in Indiana now would he. (4.00 / 2)
True, but as this is a national position a VP you're not graded on a relative scale like Nate silver did but at absolute one.

And while being there is no "senator more liberal than Bayh in any state more conservative than Indiana."  objectively he is still one of the worst democrats around and almost as completely out of touch with the democratic platform as you can as a democrat.


[ Parent ]
Not convincing (4.00 / 1)
Silver's analysis doesn't separate out his positions on issues - maybe he can't be a flaming liberal in Indiana, but he could be a lot less of a whore for free trade. And it relies on the Likert scale too much. Liberal is a dirty word and not many in Indiana will characterise themselves as such. Whatever their political positions, they'll probably self-define as moderate or conservative.

Then there's the fact that Lugar is also substantially more liberal than you would expect a Republican Senator from Indiana to be and you start to realise that there's probably something wrong with his metrics.

Then you look at the VoteView statistics, and see that they don't quite make sense. In the 108th Congress, Holling was ranked sixth most liberal senator, despite only agreeing with the minority group 87.4% of the time (Bayh managed 89.2% of the time.) Then you see that in the 109th Congress, Bayh only voted with the minority grouping 91.1% of the time. NB I'm not entirely certain I read the tables right, but you can find them here:and http://www.voteview.com/sen109...

And that's even before we start discussing his rhetoric and how he positions the party.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog


[ Parent ]
if this is him progressive, I'd hate to see him as a conservative (4.00 / 2)
He was the only Democratic senator to vote against the Democratic budget resolution. Even Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Tim Johnson, and the two republican Maine senators voted for it.

That's grounds for losing a committee chairmanship in my opinion.

Also, what is the metric by which Silver measures "progressive"? I couldn't actually find anything on that page that was the source for his graph. Is it just a statistical construct based on an arbitrary axis that divides votes in the senate? For broad trends I'm sure that's alright, but I wouldn't put too much stock in that for individual votes and sessions for individual senators. Especially when there misclassification rate can be upwards of 20-30% (their own admission; Bayh's 'misclassification' was at 15%).

So I'd probably go with progressive punch scores at this point with actual people looking at votes rather than an 'unsupervised classification' as this appears to be. But of course, given that it's Nate over at 538, he's going to go with the statistical construct every time (there's a bootstrap in it! How could he resist!).    


[ Parent ]
Not to pick nits but.... (0.00 / 0)
Wouldn't he be more suitable if he was an attractive white man with soft, natural-looking hair?

You don't want to short-change his suitability for office!

I associate rigid hair with toupees and inside-the-beltway phoniness, but maybe I'm just not as smart as Obama's advisors.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
toupees? never! (0.00 / 0)
Nowadays those things look far more natural then what you see in congress.

Rigid hair is a sign of a very expensive comb over and several cans of hair spray.


[ Parent ]
Cautious? How would it be cautious? (0.00 / 0)
Does Evan Bayh have any constituency in the party, outside of Indiana?  My answer is no.  He couldn't get his presidential campaign beyond the exploratory stage because he found out that people outside of Indiana knew nothing about him, and when they were informed of his stand on the issues, didn't support him.

Choosing Bayh would be cautious in the same way that buying a house with an adjustable rate mortgage would be cautious. Cautious means that if you can't afford to lose, you don't bet.  Betting on Bayh would be a bet we would all lose.


[ Parent ]
Partial birth abortion? (4.00 / 5)
I'm not familiar with that term.  Are you referring to intact dilation and extraction or more generally to late-term abortion?

John McCain <3 lobbyists

Clark or Biden, NOT BAYH (4.00 / 1)
I was an ardent and active Obama supporter before his FISA vote, and I've come back to the fold lately, but if he chooses Bayh as his running mate, Obama will lose everything but my vote. He can't afford to alienate his base any further.

I was supporting Biden for VP, and I still think he's a credible choice, but he's great in the Senate, where Obama needs him. And he doesn't fit the Washington outsider/change theme. I've come to the conclusion that Wesley Clark would be Obama's best choice.


Breaking on CNN (4.00 / 2)
"Sen. Evan Bayh gave a press conference in Terre Haute today where he proceeded to unzip his face and expose that in fact he really is SATAN."

Boy that was close. Good job team.  

Laugh hard. Its a long ways to the bank.  


That is breaking news (0.00 / 0)
It makes him much worse than a DLC hawk.  I doubt Obama will put him on the ticket now.

[ Parent ]
Another Angle (4.00 / 2)
Part of my reason for voting for Obama over Clinton in the primaries was specifically because it seem predestined that she was going to pick Bayh as her VP. I suspect there's quite a few people like me who heard that chatter and responded accordingly. It'd be a heckuva gut punch to get stuck with him even despite the fact Obama won the nomination.

That's sort of an odd reverse-idea... (0.00 / 0)
Basing your primary pick on a likely VP pick?  Unless our candidate picked Satan or something, you were really using a possible VP pick as the reason to vote?  That just seems backwards to me.  I realize that Cheney has had quite a bit of power in Bush's presidency because Bush is a complete moron, but honestly, it's the VP... they typically don't impact the presidential race much and most often don't influence the direction the President wants to take.

[ Parent ]
Until they take office (0.00 / 0)
It really surprises me that people think of the VP as an essentially irrelevant office. I mean, I guess it is until it's not, and that it's about as relevant as you get.

It is not at all unheard of for presidents to die in office.


[ Parent ]
Ask Cheney how irrelevant he is. n.t (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
I'll Tell You Why (4.00 / 1)
1.) It shows incredibly poor political judgement because the man is an empty suit with no charisma.

2.) I don't want Bayh positioned to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2012 or 2016.

3.) The office of Vice President has taken on an increasingly important role since Al Gore held the office and, obviously, even more so since Dick Cheney took it over. Like it or not, Bayh will have some real power in the Executive Branch if he gets in.

4.) The obvious: heartbeat away.

It wasn't my first or even my tenth reason for voting for Obama/against Clinton, but it was among my reasons.


[ Parent ]
#2 is really the most depressing aspect... (4.00 / 1)
But at this point, I'm wondering who we should be highlighting then.  Edwards was originally my pick sort of for this very reason... that's obviously a non-starter now.

Certainly, I'd prefer Clark or Sebelius to be the next in line, although Clark would be 72 after 8 years (McCain's age now), and Sebelius isn't much of a speaker.  We're left with basically no one as an inspiring "next in line", so maybe Clark is the best bet hoping that he doesn't run in 8 years and we get someone a bit better in 8 years (Feingold, Schweitzer, or maybe Warner?).  


[ Parent ]
Beyond the tactical advantage . . . (4.00 / 4)
of perhaps putting Indiana in play and helping with Ohio, what's of concern here is Obama's penchant for supporting more conservative Democrats over progressives (Lieberman over Lamont, Duckworth over Cegalis, Barrow over Thomas), and where this support positions him within the political faultlines of the Democratic Party.

Obama's a conservative Democrat, what did you expect? (0.00 / 0)
Obama has shown himself to be somewhat more conservative than I expected but, to quote myself six months ago, he has not disappointed me. Obama has always been closer, politically, to politicians like Bayh and Lieberman than any other element of the Democratic party. It seems to me that anyone with an interest in promoting liberal policies must first acknowledge that President Obama will be more an obstacle than an ally. He will be far more amenable to pressure than a President McCain would be, but it will take a lot of pressure. Unfortunately a Democratic Congress will be more in Obama's pocket, and less willing to challenge him, than they would McCain, so expect little support from that quarter.

The best bet, if you wish to promote liberal policies, is to ally with the old coalition Democratic groups -- unions, enviros, womens groups -- that have been excluded from Obama's orbit, and with the loyal Democratic politicians willing to stand up to him.  


That's Silly (4.00 / 3)
By any objective measure--Voteview, Progressive Punch, etc.--Obama is a moderate liberal.  Does he have some conservative tendencies?  Yes, he does.  Does he fail to challenge fundamental hegemonic rightwing ideas?  Yes, absolutely.

But that doesn't make him a conservative Democrat.  It just makes him a typical Versailles Dem.  Not a good thing, but distinctly different from a John Breaux, for example.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
conservative for a Democrat going by PP (0.00 / 0)
Well, going by Progressive Punch Obama ranks between Lieberman and Bayh. You may call that "moderate liberal" but to me that makes him a conservative Democrat. There are few Democratic Senators below him on PP's score.

But those scores only tell part of the story, Obama's reasoning behind his policy positions, which I sketched out in the post I linked to, is distinctly moderate to conservative Democrat. The trajectory of his campaign since winning the primary suggests to me that he leans more to the right of that spectrum.


[ Parent ]
Clark or Biden! (4.00 / 1)
We all agree that Bayh is just awful.
Is this bitching, or is it coming to consensus?
Is this putting pressure on Obama, or is it giving him the benefit of our collective wisdom?

This is a candidate who has publicly stated that he is the flag-carrier for a community of opinion.  We should not take him at his word?  We should not argue and debate the issue, in the interests of thoroughly understanding it?

I don't even understand these people who are using terms like hysteria, pressure, bitching. It's all fairly simple, really.  Some people want to control other people's behavior. If you speak up, they will criticize you.  

Some don't.


I'll Be Very Happy With Biden (0.00 / 0)
who will be a great campaigner and help to Obama on foreign affairs.

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