Bayh’s departure: a theory from the left

Steve Kornacki writing at Salon has a sour take on Evan Bayh from the left, as a politician who built his career by being every Republican’s favorite Democrat. The approach was born from the experience of seeing his father, the three term, U.S. senator Birch Bayh, whom Kornacki admires as a great liberal, defeated for re-election as a “liberal,” a tag Bayh assiduously sought to avoid himself, which is why Kornacki dislikes him.

Kornacki also has a theory as to why Bayh is stepping down now: he never wanted to be a Senate lifer, but to use the Senate as a stepping stone to national office. He’s been on the vice presidential short list three times, but now he has no opening until 2016, when he will be sixty, no longer the boy wonder, which has always been his main appeal (he was elected to governor of Indiana at 34). Therefore he’s dropping out.

The problem with the theory is that until the last few days Bayh gave every sign of intending to run for reelection. If the theory were right, he wouldn’t have been doing that. The fact that he has no opportunity for national office until 2016 didn’t just manifest this week; it’s been true since election day 2008.

But Kornacki has an alternative explanation:

Then there’s the climate of 2010. Sure, Bayh was running well ahead of Dan Coats, his probable GOP opponent. But just a few weeks ago, a poll showed him in a dead heat with Mike Pence, who then opted not to run. That had to be jarring for Bayh, who won by 32 points in 2004. He watched a national GOP tide take out his father in 1980. For all of his bows to the right, how sure was he that he’s be any safer himself in 2010?

This is closer to my first take on the subject, that Bayh dropped out because he thought he might lose.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 16, 2010 08:43 AM | Send

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