Wednesday, May 16

The Evan Bayh Diet: Let Someone Who Knows Better Than You Eat Your Lunch

Evan Bayh, "Profiles in Partsanship". May 15 (h/t Tracy Mohr)

HONESTLY, the inertia that must be overcome to say more than three words ("Go fuck yourself") about Birch Evans "Evan" Bayh, Public Citizen, is enormous, and my frail human canoe ain't gettin' any sleeker.

The task is made a little easier because Bayh starts off touting Profiles in Courage, the 1956 volume for which Jack Kennedy's name won a Pulitzer, as this in itself provides the energy required to hurl a hardbound copy at Bayh's head, should one get the chance. Whoever wrote Kennedy's book extolls a single virtue--it's Profiles in Courage, not Wisdom,--of a handful of Congressmen who defied party and/or constituents. It may very well have required Courage for Daniel Webster to stand for the Compromise of 1850, but that doesn't turn that turd into a Tootsie Roll. Courage, in this instance, is a lot like patience: whether you admire the quality in a driver depends on whether he's in front of or behind you.

So, despite the lethargy and indolence (Profiles in Lethargy has a nice ring to it; I should get around to that), someone of my height and temperament is immediately driven to ask what Courage Evan Bayh ever showed after being given the governorship of a nondescript state, and later two terms in the Senate, because he had a famous name and coiffure well above average. The answer is "none". Bayh sniffed the prevailing winds in the late 80s, located the source of the stench, and immediately became Young Ronald Reagan. That wasn't an act of courage; it was the decision of a committee of actuaries. The contemporary reader will probably be more familiar with Evan Bayh, the Dilute Solution of Ben Nelson, whose Senatorial career is remembered, if at all, for his brave stance in helping prevent a so-called Democratic so-called supermajority from exercising that power, especially in the matter of achieving something approaching a reasonable health care policy in this country. Then quitting.

Oh, but this time Bayh doesn't mean himself; he means Dick Lugar, lately deposed as Indiana's senior Government Accolade Collector by--we'll remind you, because Ev seems to've missed it--Republicans voting in an open primary. So send the man a sympathy card and be done with it, huh?
Lugar served the people of Indiana in the U.S. Senate for 36 years. My father was a colleague of his for four years, and I served with him for another 12. My father and I saw the world differently from Sen. Lugar in many respects, and we often voted differently. But Lugar is a statesman in the best sense of the word. He was thoughtful, civil and willing to find common ground when doing so served the best interests of our nation.
The man--Bayh will actually note this--had a 77% Lifetime Rating from the ACU. That's "lifetime" as in "Dick Lugar's Senatorial career", or, roughly, the life span of a giant tortoise. As his inexplicable primary campaign was going down for the third time, Lugar's people brought up that he'd "voted with Ronald Reagan more than any other Senator" (Bayh notes this, too). So some percentage of that lost 23%, the amount perhaps due to the moving of the Overton Window, is something Lugar helped bring on himself.
But Lugar also worked with Democrats to safeguard loose nuclear materials in post-Soviet Russia. He took bold bipartisan votes to rescue the American financial system and save the American auto industry even when it was unpopular. And he upheld the long-standing tradition that Democratic and Republican presidents should have the right to appoint qualified jurists from their own party to the federal bench.
Okay, again I'll ask what powerful constituency in the United States favored loose Soviet nukes. Beyond that, it's interesting that Bayh really can't come up with any bipartisan praise for Lugar that the Mourdock campaign didn't already use to damn him. Lugar voted to rescue the world financial markets, and domestic auto production, nearly destroyed by policies and lack of oversight he and his party had championed for decades. His replacement will watch them spiral down the drain, should he get the chance. Which makes this more of a Profile in Minding the Fucking Consequences of the Stupid Shit You Put in Motion in the First Place. After all, Daniel Webster didn't help create the North/South divide. Lugar's votes to confirm Kagan and Sotomayor were what a Senator is honor-bound, you should pardon the expression, to do. He didn't vote against them because of competing ideology. Hip hip hooray. Take this up with Republicans who just voted for a guy who suggests he'll vote against any liberal. The mob has spoken.
Pick any problem facing our country. Our flawed tax code. Our broken immigration system. The fact that we need to create more jobs and spend less money.
How 'bout "Evan Bayh is a Democrat and he can't seem to think of a 'problem' facing 'our country' that affects average Americans"? We've had this sort of "bipartisan" Congress, to greater or lesser concentration, since the 1970s, Lugar's entire career, a working coalition of southern and western anti-government, anti-social-spending ideologues. Name a real problem that's gotten better in that time.

I'm sorry, but the Republic ain't lost because Dick Lugar's brand of bipartisanship is about to disappear; we're in the shape we're in because of the Lugars, and the Bayhs, and their comfort in equating "problems facing our nation" with "what big-money donors want done."


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

a working coalition of southern and western anti-government, anti-social-spending ideologues.

Without the government and its dams, railroads, and interstates, the southwest would be a relatively unpopulated desert.

However, our corporatists have created an industry devoted to creating a religion from Ayn Rand's crappy novels. (Not to mention, the Chicago School of Economics.)

So here we are. Another 4 years of President Hope and Change's Reaganism, and we'll be getting Ricky Santorum / Jan Brewer in 2016.


Cato the Censor said...

Evan Bayh and Dick Lugar should each be beaten with red-tipped staves, then shoved into a separate leather sack with a dog, a rooster, a monkey, and a poisonous snake. The sacks should then be tossed into Indiana's largest river.

Anonymous said...

@Cato: What did the poisonous snakes do to piss you off?

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Poisonous snakes are people, too!

Both Sides Do It said...

"We've had this sort of "bipartisan" Congress, to greater or lesser concentration, since the 1970s, Lugar's entire career, a working coalition of southern and western anti-government, anti-social-spending ideologues. Name a real problem that's gotten better in that time."

I want this quote to take corporeal form so it can adopt me

Anonymous said...

Thunder: Don't forget about rural electrification too!


Anonymous said...

I don't think I've ever seen a more retch-inducing invocation of Both Sides Do It.

I mean, come on. A long-serving Senator was thrown out for being merely conservative, rather than venomously anti-liberal, and please tell me how this has anything but fuck-all to do with courage, Democrats, partisanship, or anything at all except that the inmates are now running the GOP asylum?

Bayh has been fine with the GOP playing forty years of political grab-ass with sociopath CEOs, theocrats, racists, and other critters who are variously and generally opposed to the principles of liberal democracy, but now that those constituencies are finally getting the feudalistic policies they've always hungered for, Bayh has decided to make a principled stand... against "hyperpartisans in both parties".

And Bayh gets additional Retch Inducer Of The Year points for calling No Labels a "grass-roots organization". It's grassroots in precisely the same sense the Tea Party was grassroots: if the grass is composed of hundred-dollar bills carefully placed upright in the ground by the household gardening staff of the politically connected super-rich, then sure.

If I were Charles Pierce, as I sometimes wish I were, this would be tagged under "Things That Make Me Want To Guzzle Antifreeze".