I met Evan Bayh years ago when he was running for Governor of Indiana. My vague memories of that luncheon are that I thought he was too perfect: Hollywood handsome, a professional announcer's voice, tall and slender, said all the right things, no way he wouldn't be elected.
From his remarks at lunch he could have been a middle of the road Democrat or Republican.
He was elected Governor for two terms and then Senator. All of his races have been cakewalks. He flirted with running for President but the Democratic chessboard never favored him. Frozen out by eight years of a Southern version of his 'type': Bill Clinton. But, unlike Clinton and, unlike another doppelganger in terms of type, John Edwards, there was always a sense of thoughtfulness to Senator Bayh. He never seemed to engage in harsh party ideology. And, now, he, against type yet again, has announced that he is not running for a sure reelection to the Senate. I'll leave the why behind, or this morning's calculation that he is triple crossing his own party by setting up a run for President in 2012, and hope for something else: a new found freedom of expression.
Say what you will about former Vice President Dick Cheney. Freed by the evident mortality of his heart condition, or financial security, or that he will never run for anything again, his curmudgeonly opinions make waves. Yesterday, on ABC'S This Week, he clearly was enjoying himself as he spoke his mind. I can't remember exactly, but, maybe, it went something like this:
Water boarding (think uber-gravely voice): I was always for it.
Relentlessly hunting down terrorists and leaving a First Air Cav patch in their lifeless mouths after they have been dispatched by any means necessary: I've got no problem with that and slept like a baby after approving such orders.
Obama Administration: clueless.
Biden: I read The Onion every week to keep up with what he is doing.
Dick Cheney was speaking his version of Solzhenitsyn's language of absolute clarity.
Can we hope for the same from Evan Bayh?
Wouldn't it be delicious if he follows in the foot steps of the fictional Senator in Warren Beatty's 1998 satiric movie Bullworth? If you remember, the Senator, faced with ruin, takes out a huge life insurance policy and hires a hit man to assassinate him.
A known execution date does clarify the mind and Senator Bullworth begins speaking his mind after years of saying what his handlers told him to say or what his corporate masters insisted that he say. He starts rapping the truth, literally, liberally sprinkling his raps with the coarse language of the streets.
I can't imagine Senator Bayh, of the great state of Indiana, rapping on 60 Minutes, but wouldn't it be refreshing if he abandons political cant and starts talking a little Hoosier horse sense?
The speech writers leaning on the bar at the Billy Goat, after several Miller High Lifes backed with rye, have given me Senator Bayh's first 'free at last' remarks:
Thank you for coming to a Hoosier lame duck press conference. I hope my remarks are not seen as mere quackery (puns are big at the Billy Goat). Let's get the big issues out of the way:
Global warming: A crock. Are you kidding me? Have you been to Washington lately? It looks like Nome. Get over it; we have to find a better excuse to institute socialism.
Government spending, the national debt, and Social Security: Easy. De-certify public employee unions, they are a drag on all of us. All pensions systems must pay for themselves without taxpayer assistance, all budgets must be balanced, and the federal government can only take 25% of anybody's salary in taxes. Social security begins at 70. If you make more than $100K in other income after 70 you get bupkis...you've had a great American life and you're making a further contribution for the good of the country. We'll send you a framed thank you note.
Health Care Reforms: Never, never, never, vote for any bill more than forty pages long. There's a simple Washington calculus: every page over forty is put there by a lobbyist representing a special interest. Figure a hundred thousand dollars per page in fees to the lobbyist and a million or so to someone's campaign fund.
The war on terror: What part of 'war' do my friends in Congress and the Administration not understand? Nathan Bedford Forrest said it best: war means fighting and fighting means killing. We are at war with militant Islam; it isn't a law enforcement matter. It is a military necessity to wipe these guys out. Keep Guantanamo open. Buy a prison in Illinois? How convenient. Cherchez la money... who's getting the benefits of that deal?
Education: As long as we have high teen pregnancy rates, fatherless children, and militant teacher's unions we won't have decent schools. We can't pay people to care. It's a boondoggle of the worst proportions. More money isn't the answer.
Abortion: Let's say life begins at three weeks. After that you're having it. Sorry, convenience isn't a good enough reason to end a life.
Gay marriage: There isn't a reason in the world to prevent two people who love each other from marrying in a civil ceremony.
And, finally... Sarah Palin's hot.
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