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nellie On February - 15 - 2010

This morning the office of Senator Evan Bayh, D-IN, announced that he will not run for re-election this November. There’s more than one way to react to this news. Since Bayh is a Democrat, the gut reaction might be to fear that we’re going to lose another seat — like we did in Massachusetts. Bayh is, after all, a conservative Dem in a conservative state.

But what about looking at this resignation as an opportunity? Bayh’s father, Birch Bayh, was a true Liberal Dem, a champion of Liberal causes, and a hero. He proved that a strong Liberal can win in Indiana.

Birch Bayh was defeated in 1980 by Dan Quayle during the successful demonization of the term “liberal” by the GOP. It was just another war of words — a PR campaign that had nothing to do with governance or responding to what the people need. It was the empty and shallow game that the GOP plays so well and that Democrats play so badly.

As a result, when Evan Bayh decided to follow in his father’s footsteps, he did so as a conservative. But who can say whether Evan’s politics could ever have gotten him into the governor’s mansion or to the senate without his father’s Liberal legacy.

Now that Bayh is resigning, will Democrats have the organization and skill to put forth a Liberal Dem as a candidate and defend the Liberal label? This is a true opportunity to talk about serving the people — bringing jobs back home, getting health care coverage to people who need it, starting a green energy economy, making peace.

These are the Liberal ideals that most Americans support. But they have poor advocates in the democratic pundits and spokespeople. Liberal ideals have no advocacy at all in the media.

Progressives should decide right now — not waste a moment in this critical election year — how they feel about this open seat, and what we’re going to do about it.

UPDATE (15 Feb, 8:45 pm)

Candidates — Republicans and Democrats — only have until Tuesday, February 16, 2010, to gather 4,500 signatures and file for inclusion on the Democratic primary ballot. The Democratic Party, however, has plenty of time to nominate its own candidate — until June. The timing of this decision couldn’t have been worse for independent- and progressive-minded candidates who want to push back against the status quo of the Democratic Party.

Bayh cites the partisanship in congress as reason for his departure. But how will walking away — or potentially reducing the number of Democrats in the Senate — improve that situation?

UPDATE (16 Feb, 12:10 pm)

Evan Bayh made a phone call last night to the Indiana Democratic Committee to say it’s good that Indiana won’t have a primary.

Bayh Calls Lack Of Primary To Replace Him A Good Thing On Call With Dems

Because, you know, you can’t trust those damn voters anyway (my words, not his).

And another interesting wrinkle: FEC Rules Give Bayh Room To Decide What To Do With His $13 Million War Chest

46 Responses so far.

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  1. nellie says:

    Now Bayh is being hailed as some kind of hero for quitting. The media is turning him into another Sarah Palin.

    We really need a media revolution.

    Even McClatchy has climbed onto this rickety bandwagon:

    Bayh’s retirement blast at Congress may help break its logjam

    “It’s the kind of announcement that will cause some soul-searching” on Capitol Hill, said Bruce Reed, the head of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. “It speaks to a frustration that a number of members in both parties have but rarely say in such dramatic fashion.”

    • bitohistory says:

      If Bayh was so adamant about his centrist/moderate/conservative (whatever he likes to call himself), why did he not take a leadership role in that faction. How many bills did he work on with the “moderate” R’s and get them to vote for?
      The answer is no and none. The “party of no” is the obstruction not lefty bloggers and lefty Senators.

      If he believed in his convictions he would have stayed and made the “good fight” and work for his constituents of IN. If he believed in a centrist wing in the Dem party, he would have given the party a chance to hold primaries.

      He will be a lobbyist for Big Pharma in 1 1/2 years!

      Birch, slap that boy!

  2. AdLib says:

    AP’s latest headline:

    “Bayh the latest exit as moderates leave Congress”

    I am sick of this shit, since when is blocking what the majority of Americans want, moderate? And trying to serve the majority “liberal”?

    AP sucks. Period.

    • nellie says:

      And when you realize that Bayh left so that the people of Indiana had no chance to choose his successor — that sounds more like authoritarian dictate than centrist compromise.

      AP has really taken a beating lately with new management. I thought they were getting better, but maybe not….

    • Chernynkaya says:

      I write a comment to the editor or anyone wherever I see the term “Moderate” used to describe the likes of Bayh or Nelson et al. If Bayh is moderate, does that make Chuck Schumer a Socialist, Barbara Boxer a Commie and Bernie Sanders a Stalinist? Or if Bayh is a moderate, who would they consider to be a Conservative Dem? I tell you, it really steams me!!

  3. bitohistory says:

    “Senator Mellencamp?” From John Nicholes blog, “The Beat”

    For the past quarter century, he has been penning and performing smart, often very political songs — focusing on the farm crisis, economic hard times and race relations. He’s been a key organizer of Farm Aid and other fund-raising events for good causes, and he’s been a steady presence on the campaign trail in recent years, appearing at the side of numerous Democratic presidential candidates, including Barack Obama.
    So, could Mellencamp perform in the U.S. Senate?

    Mellencamp has a history of issue-oriented political engagement that is the rival of any of the Democratic politicians who are being considered as possible Bayh replacements.

    And Mellencamp has something else. He has a record of standing up for disenfranchised and disenchanted working-class families in places like his hometown of Seymour, Indiana.

    The populist pick? I do know, no matter what party, people in Indiana “love” John!


  4. bitohistory says:

    John Nicholes (of The Nation) has an piece on the NPR opinion page on the “no-big-deal” loss of Bye:

    Better to have 54 or 55 Democrats who might actually want to get something done than to worry about building a super-majority on the “strength” of conservative members who enthusiastically support unnecessary wars, free trade and misguided domestic economic policies. Then, hopefully, the Democrats would get real about governing by taking the necessary first step of doing away with filibuster rules that empower outliers and run the Senate on the novel notion of majority rule.

    Bayh, a pro-free trade Democrat, was consistently on the wrong side of economic issues that determine the fate of Great Lakes manufacturing states such as Indiana. He won office not because of his positions on the issues but because he is a affable campaigner with a magic name

  5. Khirad says:

    Disastrofavor? Catastrokismet?

    [Yup, it be that time of night again -- when I struggle to be clever]

    If anything, I can’t quite wrap my head around the no-heads up (might say I’m Bayh-curious), but take some solace that the GOP was expecting to run against Bayh until this unexpected announcement, as well.

  6. choicelady says:

    They just said on Olbermann that the Dems can pick a candidate via the party with the deadline in June. So if we can get progressives in Indiana and real liberals to coalesce, maybe there is still hope. The deadline for the 4500 signatures for the conventional mode is TOMORROW. So the party mechanism is what’s left. Who is in charge of the Indiana Democratic party -- and where are my folks in the various unions???? Let’s get a real progressive with a strong spine in there!

  7. bitohistory says:

    Reading some of Matt Yglesias’s posts on Evan. He has NO kind words for him.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      I just don’t get what has happened to the Democrats. i wish someone would write an article putting all the pieces together. We had a big victory in ’09. And yeah, we are a big tent Party. But something’s missing-- our mood, the discontent-- it just doesn’t add up for me.
      can somebody please explain to me why the Dems are imploding? We have a popular President, we still have a big majority, but suddenly, the chance of any success seems to have caused a massive panic attack. WTF?

      • AdLib says:

        My theory is that Rahm, the Blue Dogs, all of the conservative, corporate-friendly moles in the Dem party put their feet down at the start of Obama’s Admin to slow this train down to a stop.

        The Dem Party itself IS part of the status quo. Though there are many who are genuine about their wanting change, including Pres. Obama, there are the “realists” who make clear to him and everyone else what “really is possible”.

        The problem is that the status quo Dems wrongly believe that throwing crumbs of change to supposedly satisfy voters while protecting corporations and the status quo is a brilliant strategy.

        Instead, the entire party loses because they alienate citizens and corporations know the Repubs will do better for them anyway.

        Good riddance Bayh, good riddance Reid. I’d rather have 51 Dems who are willing to use reconciliation and support real change than 59 who stand in the way of progress.

        • Chernynkaya says:

          AdLib, I can buy that explanation. It basically means what I know to be the case: We do not have a super-duper majority-- we have DINOS and about 50 (give or take) actual Democrats. The question remains, then, why would Obama keep Rahm if Rahm is working for the status quo? Actually WORKING AGAINST OBAMA’S AGENDA? That ‘realist’ BS again? Because he is a pit bull? (I assumed, incorrectly, that Rahm was going to be a pit bull against the Reptilians-- boy, how wrong could I be?) One must, then, question Obama’s agenda, since logically, keeping Rahm there to be the spoiler makes no sense. I do believe Obama wants at least a modicum of change, but to keep Rahm is stupid-- something Obama is NOT.

          • AdLib says:

            I’m right with you. The thing is, when Obama was running against Clinton and even McCain, he campaigned on the concept that they would simply bring back the same people who have been running Washington for decades.

            Many Dems were a bit disappointed when Obama began filling his cabinet with the same kinds of “repeat offenders” that he campaigned against.

            Rahm is probably the most prominent one of the bunch.

            It was a kind of bait and switch and they sold it by stressing what a bulldog he would be, how people were intimidated by him in Congress and he would muscle through Obama’s agenda…it just wasn’t true.

            Rahm and Obama go back a bit, they are both from Chicago and there is a bit of loyalty and history there.

            I understand all that, Rahm’s experience in Clinton’s Admin was surely regarded by Obama as a big strength.

            But Rahm and many others in the cabinet and Admin who are DLC types, who have close relationships and good feelings towards corporations and the status quo, are necessarily harmful to Obama and an agenda of change.

            I can understand though. Imagine if you were placed in a position of power and you were new at it. You would look to the people you know and trust who had experience working with this who anxiously wanted to help you too. You would want to succeed and would have more confidence in those who had been in such a position before to help you succeed.

            The problem is, again, if you are trying to bring change, you can’t rely on those who don’t want change, no matter how experienced they are.

            Better to have lesser experienced people who will fight with you to accomplish change than experienced ones who will use their experience to tell you how what you want is not possible.

            • escribacat says:

              The whole Rahm issue is puzzling to me too. I am sure that the “Rahm” that we perceive from out here is not the same as the “Rahm” that Obama perceives. I am worried that Obama is already in a bubble. He has admitted he doesn’t watch cable news. Some of his statements make that pretty clear — he doesn’t know how Rahm is perceived by progressives.

            • escribacat says:

              Adlib — They call that the “reduction of cognitive dissonance.” Once you’ve decided in favor of something, you can no longer view it objectively.

            • AdLib says:

              I can only imagine being in his position and needing to close ranks with those you trust, against the MSM and the GOP…let alone Al Qaeda and others wanting terrible things for this country.

              I think it is right after that initial period of selecting someone that the minds necessarily lose their objectivity. From that point forward it is “us” and together they reject the criticism of each of them that comes their way.

              Too bad because my POV is that as long as Rahm and those like him are key advisers and strategists in this Admin, they will hobble all attempts for profound change.

        • escribacat says:

          Most of the dems who have been around for years are in the “zone,” that is, they have been lulled to sleep and can’t see the big picture any more. They only see their pet projects. Obama must have really irritated the shit out of them when he got elected.

          • AdLib says:

            No kidding! The thing is, it is impossible to tell the difference between earnest Dems and bullshitting Dems when they are out of power, railing against Repubs and campaigning for change.

            What change means to those types of Dems is the change to their being out of power and having an easier time getting corporate contributions due to their being in a better position to hand billions of taxpayer money to corporations…and thus earn their “kickbacks”.

            There are earnest Dems who want change, we need to support them and support primary challenges against the others.

            • nellie says:

              Sounds like a ppov project for the future — the Rogues Gallery of Obstructionists.

      • nellie says:

        I blame the media, Cher. I’m listening right now to a supposedly progressive radio show and all the host does (Norman Goldman) is slam the president and the LIBERAL Democrats.

        The real blame for the log jam is the GOP. The next in line to blame is Lieberman. Then the corporate dems, like Blanche Lincoln and Baucus.

        But the press doesn’t report anything like that. Even the progressive media — it’s hostile. They report on the Tea Party nonsense and the poll numbers going up and down and other distractions. They never report the progress we’ve made. They never report the lives that have been changed for the better. They don’t even report the tax cut to 95% of Americans.

        They are CORPORATISTS.

        And so are many of our Democratic Senators. Bought and paid for. They use the Democratic label to get elected, and then they block anything that helps people.

        We need to clean house. Every generation says it, but we really need to find a way to do it. So that the Senate is more like the House. The House is doing the people’s business — even though we only hear crickets from the media.

        And I hate that these demoralizing tactics work so well.

        We need primary challengers so badly, but who’s going to get involved with the process when all they hear about it is negative negative negative? Who’s leading the charge to work for change? The president can’t do it all by himself.

        • Chernynkaya says:

          Nellie, I agree the corporate media is doing it’s part to defeat progress. But I don’t blame progressive hosts for being disgruntled by this Congress-- if I believe they are sincere and not just to rabble rouse, as several do.

          I believe that the Dems are behaving spinelessly--running from the very promises that got them elected because they don’t want to be seen as ramming through legislation that they ran on, were elected to enact, and promised to do. They already got our approval for all the things they say they wanted to do in 2009.

          So when Progressives express their anger at them-- more frustration, actually-- it seems to me deserved. But as you so rightly point out, it will not help us win elections. An excited, dedicated and determined electorate wins elections-- not one being told daily that the Dems are worthless.

          • choicelady says:

            Hi -- Cher -- it’s deserved up to a point. The problem is that too many progressives blame Obama. Ezra Kline from the WaPo noted that he cannot do what the Congress will not, and the Congress needs to be the entity with the moxie to stand up for real people. Progressives we have watched make sweeping judgements against Obama rather than paring out the bad apples from the good.

            I just heard that Obama and the WH are prepared to resume using more Executive Orders -- the thing we CLAIMED we wanted to end. But what we really wanted is a President with balls who was simply on OUR side -- one who used the imperial presidential powers for our values. Well, after a year, I guess I’m ready, and apparently so is Obama. I pretty much give up on civility which is what makes me admire him. We as a nation want decisive action even if it has to be via mechanisms we don’t like. So OK -- gloves are off. I think we’ll make progress faster and better. Apparently there is a reconciled House/Senate health plan -- and the Reeps are furious. They want NO plan so they can create the Republican one. Sorry. It looks as if the House and Senate are ready to ditch process and go for it however they must. I suspect the “summit” will point out that the Republicans got ALL FOUR of their wishes in this (that’s all they wanted -- tort reform as if that mattered) so shut up already. Too late.

            If Obama is taking off the gloves, I think I’m ready to accept it. I wish it were not so, but I can’t see any alternatives.

            So GO for it. And with the jobs bill, finance reform, banking regulation, consumer rights, etc., etc., etc.

            I give up on civility. Let the strong man rock out!

            • SueInCa says:

              I agree Choice Lady. I thought there could be some civility in government but the pugs and the blue dogs just are not going to let it happen. Take off the gloves. If he can get some things done for us, then go for it. I am usually a very calm person, but all this divisiveness has got even me tied up in knots.

          • nellie says:

            I guess my frustration is with the “complain but don’t have a plan” aspect of progressive media. I think if people were encouraged to get involved, we’d have primary challengers. And if the media covered challengers fairly, they’d have a good chance of getting elected.

            I really do put a lot of responsibility on the media because it affects how people make decisions. We get the people we elect. We have a choice. If we’re making bad choices — why is that? Because our information is bad.

            • Chernynkaya says:

              Nellie, the media is a big problem-- no question. But my real issue is with the Dems! What is happening to them? Are they so used to empty promises, so cynical in their voting that they have literally forgotten what they were elected to do?

              The Reps really want to change government and America. They have a passion to ruin us. The Dems-- I’m not seeing that or anything else except what Obama said-- They think their job is to get re-elected, but to not govern.

            • nellie says:

              I guess this is another wrinkle where we have a different take. I think these guys are corporatists. And we need to know that during their campaigns! They haven’t forgotten anything.

              IMO, you’re giving them too much credit. They’re just like Republicans — the people we’re talking about. They don’t care why they were elected. They care about those lobbyist dollars.

              The only reason it seems the GOP has a passion is because of the media — they get cast in that light.

              But we see this differently — which is good. I like mulling over your point of view.

      • bitohistory says:

        Cher, On Matt’s page he posts an interesting study that has been done on discontent with government. Since the Dems are in leadership, they are the one’s to blame.

        I think there

        • Chernynkaya says:

          Gosh, Bito-- that makes so much sense. Since I believe most people pay hardly any attention to policy or politics, and that they only know how they feel--how their lives are going-- I think Sides is probably right. At the end of the day, “It’s the economy, Stupid.” And that doesn’t mean The Economy-- with the Dow or trade, or economic indicators. It means that Americans work harder every year for less and less. They are too tired and numb to ask why, they are just discontented.

        • nellie says:

          I think that’s valid. People vote their pocketbooks.

  8. Chernynkaya says:

    Not that I understand this nation, but I honestly think very few people even have a basic understanding of what is going on. Most people are not informed and are poorly educated. They work hard at souls-sucking jobs, are too busy with the little life they have and then narcotize themselves with electronic toy junk--cell phones with stupid apps, TV “reality” shows--whatever. The pittance of news they pay attention too is the local 6 o’clock or on the car radio.

    What they DO know is that wages have been stagnant since the 80’s and they don’t even ask why. All they want is some amorphous something or someone to speak for them, but they don’t even know what that someone should say.

    They vote for “change” over and over, never get it, throw the bums out (except for THEIR bum) and are perpetually unhappy with government. Lives of quiet desperation is saying too much--desperation at least might lead to something. Americans are comatose.

    • nellie says:

      bito, this is perfect.

      “Pique” is exactly what it looks like. A slap at the do-something dems.

      As far as the country is concerned, we’re better off with people like this out of the Senate. Let’s hope Dems can pull something together and give Indiana a strong candidate for November.

  9. dndobson says:

    I heard the deadline for filing to run for Senate (at least in a primary) passed on Feb 9th. It’s almost as if he is conspiring to give the seat to the Republicans.

    • bitohistory says:

      From Think Progress.

    • bitohistory says:

      Is is not different in every state? just as it is with the date of the primary?

    • choicelady says:

      Are there Reeps running? If he abandoned this to the Republicans, it’s despicable. That is the end of democracy for at least Indiana. On the other hand, given his tendencies, maybe it’s no loss at all. Damn.

      • nellie says:

        There is a republican challenger — Dan Coats — who was losing to Bayh in the polls. This is a quote from Bayh: “I am constantly reminded that if Washington DC can be more like Indiana, Washington would be a better place.”

        It’s hard to know what’s going on here. Bayh held a fundraiser in DC in 2006 to gauge interest for a presidential run, and decided against it. His heart doesn’t seem to be in it, IMO.

        I agree that this is not much of a loss — unless the Dems can’t get a candidate organized. The party has not been using it’s fleeting popularity wisely.

  10. choicelady says:

    This morning in the Sacramento Bee, there was a story (wire service) that Obama’s popularity is a ‘drag’ on the Dems. So my question is -- why is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different outomes NOT an issue of insanity within the party? The failure of Congressional Dems, either house, to do what the people want is what has made Obama seem fruitless. So why keep DOING that? We need massive Progressive action -- the polls all show that is what people want. On Andrea Mitchell this morning as well, the discussion was around the “Reagan Dems” -- blue collar social conservatives -- who like Palin. Frankly, if the Progressives dominated, Obama would be culling many of them. This nation needs someone who champions them, provides solid blue collar jobs, brings back industry, revives the economy for the working and middle class while raising up people from poverty. If someone did THAT, there’d be no room for the Winkin’ and Blinkin’ Sarah or anyone else of her ilk. Why do the party “leaders” seem NOT to get this?

    We at the Planet do need our voices in this mix because frankly the elite progressives (lower case intentional) have no clue what laid off auto and steelworkers want or need. Health care, sure -- but what else? AH and her buddies have not got a clue. Any of us see the Indiana Dems hearing the REAL voices of people? Does NO one get the polls on health care -- that they collapsed when the public option was pulled OUT, not when it was IN?

    Why are liberals afraid to be liberals? Why are progressives afraid to be progressive? How did Reagan win when every single policy he and his followers had -- every stitch of voodoo economics -- has FAILED.

    So why are we giving the totally worthless supply side perspectives a second of our time? The teabaggers want Ron Paul -- who wants to go back on the GOLD standard that kills credit for small business and ordinary people. How can they support that? What’s the lure of Ayn Rand-ism when she hated working people and supported the elite and Paul’s policies reflect that? What are the messages from Paul that are attracting tea bag supporters when he and his ilk don’t LIKE them????

    I’d like to do something about this if I only had a glimmer of insight into what it all means. I am totally shaking my head -- I do NOT understand this nation any longer.

    • nellie says:

      What I believe, choicelady, is that there are many Democrats who don’t want any progress, either. They hide behind the label of the party to get elected, but they’re financed by the same people who finance the Republicans. And they’re slowing up our progress.

      To me, Evan Bayh is one of those people. He’s not his father. And I suspect he thinks his prospects are now better out of congress — because we have a president who wants to get things passed that aren’t going to generate any profits for our legislators.

      Isn’t it interesting that all these retirements are coming at a time when we have a president stubbornly advocating for populist legislation? Isn’t that just fascinating? Bayh was perfectly comfortable during the Bush administration. Now he’s complaining because nothing can get done.

      Just so interesting….

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Choicelady, my response above was meant as a reply to your comments. Sorry--fickle finger of fate must have pushed some wrong keys!

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