I really appreciate the way that outgoing Senator Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) is doing all he can to remind us -- as he swans off into the snitty sunset of his Senate career -- of the way he comported himself as a legislator and as a man. Last week, Bayh was in the pages of the New York Times, taking a dim view of health care reform as a costly example of "overreach," correctly anticipating what would be a zazzy, post-election conventional wisdom nuglet.
Given the fact that Bayh had abruptly quit on his constituents and denied his needful colleagues the rich resources of his campaign war chest, it was surprising to learn that Bayh had any personal investment in the fortunes of the Democratic Party at all. But, as Ezra Klein noted, there definitely was a time where Bayh had a personal investment in getting that same health care reform package passed:
That's hard to square with what Jon Alter reported back in February:
As I learned in reporting for my upcoming book, The Promise: President Obama, Year One, out in May, White House aides David Axelrod and Jim Messina visited the Senate just before the August recess last year and left feeling much better after hearing from Bayh. He made them feel that the politics of getting reelected demanded passage of the bill, which at the time looked iffy. "We're all screwed if you don't get something real on health care," Bayh told them. This made Axelrod and Messina think that the moderates would be on board.
Klein says that the "two statements aren't impossible to reconcile," and he's absolutely right. Evan Bayh is a hypocritical, opportunistic boor -- BOOM, reconciled! (Klein has a nicer way of saying this, "Maybe Bayh thought the politics favored passing a bill then, but he's reconsidered that judgment as the months have gone by," but it's basically the same concept.)
UPDATE: The Daily Caller's Jim Treacher makes this pull from the December 19, 2009 edition of the New York Times:
Faced with Republican resistance that many Democrats saw as driven more by politics than policy disagreements, Senate Democrats in recent days gained new determination to bridge differences among themselves and prevail over the opposition.
Lawmakers who attended a private meeting between Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats at the White House on Tuesday pointed to remarks there by Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana, as providing some new inspiration.
Mr. Bayh said that the health care measure was the kind of public policy he had come to Washington to work on, according to officials who attended the session, and that he did not want to see the satisfied looks on the faces of Republican leaders if they succeeded in blocking the measure.
It's just a fact of like that some lawmakers support or fight policy proposals because of a genuine belief that their work will result in positive outcomes for their constituents, while other are simply motivated by imagining the looks on the faces of their political opponents when they have to eat that final vote. But if you find yourself in the latter group, like Evan Bayh did, you really shouldn't be allowed to self-righteously scold your colleagues for "overreach" just because the overall accrual of jollies didn't end up going your way.
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