Evan Bayh, a mainstream Democratic senator and second-string presidential contender, bailed out of politics yesterday.
Bayh is a political professional of the most conventional sort--earnest, diligent, policy-oriented, liberal, as well as the son of a second-tier presidential contender. In a sense, Bayh, with a bitter castigation of Senate gridlock and culture, is taking home his marbles.
Likewise, Teddy Kennedy's son, Patrick, a longtime congressman from Rhode Island, is also bailing out of the family business.
At the same time, more and more outsiders to the political profession are eager to get into it. My friend, Mort Zuckerman, the proprietor of the Daily News and one of the most successful real estate developers in New York, is flirting with a run for the Senate. So is Harold Ford, whose brief political career has been eclipsed by his cable television career.
So what do the eager outsiders see that the insiders don't see any longer?
Easy: The insiders don't feel powerful enough, the outsiders feel political office is a worthy acknowledgment of all the power they already have (and, of course, all the good they can do if people would only listen to them).
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