My friends, Evan Bayh is a wanker.


Lotsa chatter these days about the formation of a Senate equivalent of the House Blue Dog caucus — the group of conservative, budget-hawking Democrats.  The leader of the pack in the Senate is Evan Bayh.  (Of note to some here, both Arkansas senators are members.)

Ezra Klein has the best summary of Bayh in 3 posts or less.

Personally, I find Bayh a mirror image of John McCain: he puts on an eye-catching, centristy show, but it’s really all about him.  McCain’s colleagues have long disliked him for being The Senator Most Likely to Score Cheap Political Points on Everyone Else’s Dime.  McCain likes to be the lone no vote on unpopular legislation he supports but can oppose without imperiling.  While his colleagues hold their noses and vote for it because it has to be done, McCain sees that the necessary-but-unpopular legislation will pass without his vote, so makes a big show of voting against it.

It gets him a mavericky reputation and makes David Broder swoon, but truth be told, he’s just a wanker.

It looks to me like Bayh is bucking to be the Dems’ John McCain — make himself look like the responsible one without having to take actual responsibility for anything.  In this case, he gets to oppose deficits — always popular, downright heroic to the Beltway press — while also praising all the (equally popular) things Obama’s budget spends on, and supporting a huge tax cut.  (If this sounds familiar, it’s how the GOP governed for much of the past 10 years.)  Bayh gets to do all this without having to propose an alternative budget or suffer the consequences that would ensue if the Senate actually failed to pass Obama’s.  In other words, with no responsibility.

He’s a freerider.  A McCain.  A wanker.

Like McCain, Bayh has long-harbored presidential ambitions.  He briefly took a run at it last time around.  Is he setting himself up to challenge Obama from the right in 2012 if the economy doesn’t recover?  Wouldn’t be a bit surprised.  Or maybe he just wants to be the Democratic senator the media praises as the responsible centrist.  Either way, it sure looks like he’s full of crap.

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2 Responses to “My friends, Evan Bayh is a wanker.”

  1. Matthew Watkins Says:

    I’m a youth climate activist from Indiana and have met with Bayh’s staffers several times. I have to say he does seem wankeresque. Senator Lugar is a Republican and more progressive on environmental and energy policy than Bayh.

  2. urbino Says:

    Hi, Matthew. It’s good to hear from somebody with first-hand experience with the man.

    I could live with Bayh being conservative. Correct me if I’m wrong, but my impression is that Indiana is a center-right state. As we learned in 2006 (and as the GOP has forgotten), it’s better to have a member of your caucus who leans the other way than to have a member of the other caucus who leans your way.

    I consider Bayh a wanker not because he’s conservative, but because he’s a total fraud; like McCain, he likes to score cheap “centrist” points at the expense of the rest of his caucus on necessary but unpopular legislation.

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