I SUPPOSE I'm obligated to say something about Evan Bayh, since people other than Hoosiers and leftist bloggers are now talking about him, at least more than when he was alive, which isn't saying much. Not that they had any reason to.
Okay. Here goes: I don't care. Bayh's "retirement", and his retirement "message" are as empty as his list of legislative accomplishments. The earth-shaking effect of his bombshell announcement on Democrats is somewhat ameliorated by the fact that 1) it's the Press; anything it finds earth-shaking about politics is guaranteed to be too trivial to think about, not so difficult as to require thinking about, and almost certainly ass-backwards; 2) This makes, by my wholly disinterested count, either an equal number of retiring Republican and Democratic Senators, or one more Democrat, which might mean something, okay, provided: 3) someone could explain to me why losing a Supermajority they did nothing with means dick.
And, of course, Birch Evans "Evan" Bayh III is one reason Senate Democrats couldn't do anything with 60 votes. Not the most egregious reason, maybe, but that's only because he's never tried hard at anything.
A politician for the sake of a political career, so far as I can tell. The man's been my governor twice and my junior Senator for a decade, and I have no idea what, if anything, he stands for, other than periodically approving campaign commercials which tout his love of family, his hatred of taxes, and remind you what the flag of his nation looks like. He's four-square for Fiscal Responsibility, which means, of course, that he believes the fraction of the budget which isn't one of the Defense Department outlays he rubber stamps should be made accountable for balancing the rest. Other than the costs of collection, collating, and underlining the hot parts of every domestic communication, that is. Nothing if not consistent.
He turned up in the mid-80s in Indiana with the name recognition and hairdo of Glen Campbell, and was elected Secretary of State by acclamation. This was a little disconcerting to me to begin with, since the "name" that was being "recognized" was that of his father, Birch Evans "Birch" Bayh II, the last Democratic Senator from the state of Indiana, and a man who'd spent the previous two decades fighting off slime attacks for having opposed the Vietnam War and, worse, being a Democrat. The fact that Hoosiers could be convinced to vote for him because they recognized his name just enough to not remember where they'd heard it before did not bode well, to my way of thinking, for the remainder of the 20th century, let alone what, if anything, was to follow.
Then he's elected Governor of Indiana, which, as we've come to realize recently, really doesn't say much for you. And here's the central mystery, again: it's on nothing but name recognition, and seeing as how it's now thirty-five years since Indiana voted for a Democrat for anything, and a decade after Dan Fucking Quayle clobbered his father by portraying him as someone slightly to the left of Fidel, name recognition makes no fucking sense to me whatsoever ("Hi, I'm Charles Starkweather, Jr., and I'd like to be your next United States Senator!").
But the mystery* only deepens. Here's a guy who's seen Indiana politics go from a two-party system to a GOPocracy, from Homer Earl Capehart, the man his daddy defeated, a No Socialism! type who nonetheless helped line up Republican votes for the Civil Rights Act, to a time when most people would bet you a dollar no Republican did vote for the Civil Rights Act. He watched as the state party came to be dominated by anti-fluoridationists like Quayle, Dan and Woody Burton, and John Mutz. He saw his father denounced as a traitor for opposing a war that came within a couple years of possibly claiming him, and saw him defeated by an empty suit who spent that war as head of the Dan Quayle Typing Brigade at Stout Field.
He saw all that, and said to himself, "Hey, that looks pretty good! Break me off'n a piece of it."
Swear to God. George W. Bush started a multi-trillion dollar, military-and-budget wrecking war because it might've looked to somebody like Iraq tried to kill his Daddy, if they squinted hard enough. Bayh gets elected governor, and before they'd swept up the confetti he's posing in front of a banner they'd made for him in the Abraham Lincoln's print shop, proclaiming him the young Ronald Reagan. Time and intravenous drug use may have clouded my memories of that a bit. So say it took a full week, just to be on the safe side.
Bayh's entire political career is bordered in a single maxim: People in Indiana are the same dumbfucks who voted for Quayle; the only way you'll ever win there is to out-dumbfuck 'em.
Th' fuck did you go into politics, then? To track down the men who killed your Pa and teach 'em about firearms safety, or respecting the noise ordinance? Evan Bayh is like a man who, with unlimited financial backing and no apparently intellectual or emotional disabilities serving as a bar, took one look at architecture school and decided hod carrier was more his line. And got his wife a job knitting hod cozies.
The next step, naturally, was deciding he was Presidential timber. God Bless the U.S.A.
Then, of course, it's two terms, no sale as the VP, and a histrionic "retirement" announcement that makes about as much sense as anything he ever did. "Partisan rancor"? You entered the Senate January 3, 1999, two weeks after the strictly partisan Blow Job Impeachment Trial and Supreme Court Light Opera Tryouts. Whaddid they, invite you into the Republican caucus for a couple choruses of Kumbaya once you were settled? You lived through minority Senate Republicans perfecting the art of the non-filibuster filibuster, through majority Senate Republicans threatening to blow up the filibuster unless Democrats promised not to use it, and back to minority Senate Republicans perfecting the art of the non-filibuster filibuster, this time against a filibuster-proof majority voters gave your own (ostensible) party, and the only thing you did about it was help that majority gang of Republicans get its way there in the middle. Partisan rancor? It comes from the other party, the one you've been so solicitous of the needs of.
You're the "centrist" of "centrists" in the liberal party. Oddly enough, this does not make you the exact geo-political center of the country, or a commanding presence, or a guy with a big stick. It made you, by happenstance, a guy with a stash of stamps when somebody smarter, but penniless, wanted to mail a letter. Some of us would argue that partisanship isn't really all that changed from 2000, or '94, or '92, or '81, or '64, excepting that the Republican party can rest assured now that the Democrats won't fight it. So people in your Daddy's day went out for drinks after arguing across the aisle for a blistering three-and-one-half hours four days a week? So what? That's like saying board members at Augusta will ring for cocktails after arguing about the Eisenhower Tree. (No, I take that back; the modern US Senate has had three black members. World of difference.) Th' fuck would you want to go toss back a few with a co-worker who acts like he's blind drunk during business hours? The Republican party is clinically fucking insane, and the obvious contagion factor was roundly ignored. If this is the source of your trouble, Senator Bayh, why didn't you say so? Why didn't you say so five years ago, or ten? Trying to compromise a pack of rabid terriers into submission was your big idea, Senator. It didn't work, so you take your ball and go home? Sure. Might you at least say so on your way out?
Or is it all about how that phony Pence for Senate poll freaked you th' hell out, and let you know that the Lovely Susan Bayh's part-time hobby, collecting really mammoth decorative checks, was gonna be an issue this time? They's trouble, and then they's trouble, as my Daddy would've told me if he talked like that.
* We mean that poetically; there's no mystery as to what Ev's been up to the past three decades, or what god he's been serving.