Former Senator Bayh Says Political Parties More Alienated Than Ever

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) speaks during day three of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) at the Pepsi Center August 27, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. (Getty)

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, Evan Bayh, former Senator of Indiana and Fox News contributor, reacts to the latest in partisan politics in Congress and in Washington, where he served before stepping down over partisan battles last year.

On the birther movement

President Obama released his birth certificate today in hopes of quelling doubts about his birthplace and qualifications to be president.

This is just a luxury we can't afford. He was obviously born in Hawaii, the long form is the same thing that every Hawaiian gets, they use it to get drivers licenses and everything else, so I hope this will put it to rest. But even if there was a problem there frankly I don't care if he was born on Mars if he can create jobs and get the price of gas down and get the economy going.

A likely scenario for the debt ceiling fight

Have no fear, another political screaming match lies ahead--about expanding the debt ceiling. Bayh says on the one hand it would be disastrous if the nation defaulted on its debt, yet at the same time we can't allow the deficit to continue expanding.

What I think will happen is with that looming deadline, both sides will stake out positions that are in substantial disagreement, there will be a long political tussle about it, we'll tiptoe right up to the precipice, look over the precipice and decide we don't want to jump over.

Bayh predicts that we'll see a similar play-by-play as happened in Congress with TARP (the Troubled Asset Relief Program).

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if you didn't see a repetition of that sort of thing, where a program is put out there, passed by the Senate to get the long term debt and deficit under control, it fails in the House in the first vote, the markets react very adversely, then the House comes back and does what it has to do.

The two parties are more polarized than ever

Bay says the left and the right are more alienated than he has ever seen.

They temporarily come together around crises like 9/11, occasionally another event or two but then quickly go back to fighting. And the tolerance on the part of the base of either party for any deviation from party orthodoxy is practically nil. So if you try and reach out and find some common ground you're pretty quickly characterized as a traitor to the cause.

When Bayh was in Congress he tried to play peace-maker, but then he stepped down and took his message to TV.

Why he's on Fox

Simply because it is the most widely watched cable news channel on television, by a long shot.

You can add up the viewership of MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, Headline News, add them all together and they barely equal the viewership of Fox News. So it made sense to me to have what I hope is a sensible, credible voice, defending the democratic point of view to those millions and millions of viewers who otherwise are just going to be hearing the Republican point of view.

Bayh said the moderate Republicans and centrist Democrats who watch Fox are the very people the Democratic party needs to win elections. Listening to him, it's clear the Senate's bipartisan "gang of six" has a tough nut to crack.


Evan Bayh


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Comments [11]

Rose Davidson from Lubbock,

The writing is on the wall, Republicans have played their hand too soon, they won't do destroy the middle class and let Big business rule this country! The Koch brothers, Supreme court, US Chamber of Commerce and FOX news have all been exposed. I believe 75% of the electorate is awake, now!!!!!!!

Apr. 28 2011 09:18 AM

Well, Martin Chuzzlewit I don't know what Bayh would say to your criticism about Obama (something completely innocuous I'll guess) but here's what I say: you're an idiot with way too much time on your hands.

Apr. 27 2011 10:48 AM
Robert from NYC

You really think Panetta is a nice, gentle guy!! You aren't very observant are you? Mr Panetta is that snake in the grass. He's strong, determined and has very clear policies.

Apr. 27 2011 10:45 AM

Birch Bayh!
Brian you have been hijacked for sure. This sleaze bucket has done all he can to undermine Obama going back to 2007-08. He is a hypocrit, a covert panderer to the Tea Party, and an aspirant to challenging Obama for the nomination in 2012. Just replay his slick and viper-like reply to you rquestion about the birthers.

You have given him a free advertising platform. Shame on you and NPR.

Apr. 27 2011 10:45 AM
Andy B. from NYC

Bayh is quite boring with his "Earthings! Democrats and Republicans! Stop your bickering" song and dance.

Most revealing is the fact that he supported the Wall Street bailouts with the bogus assertion that the bailouts saved us from oblivion.

Does anybody still believe this nonsense? What are Bayh's corporate and Wall Street connections?

Apr. 27 2011 10:44 AM
Andy B. from NYC

Bayh is quite boring with his "Earthings! Democrats and Republicans! Stop your bickering" song and dance.

Most revealing is the fact that he supported the Wall Street bailouts with the bogus assertion that the bailouts saved us from oblivion.

Does anybody still believe this nonsense? What are Bayh's corporate and Wall Street connections?

Apr. 27 2011 10:44 AM

Evan Bayh is an empty suit who owes everything to the genetic lottery he won by dropping out of his mother's womb. He left office whining about how partisanship was destroying the country then takes a job with Fox News. Everything he's saying sounds canned like his life. I can't say it any better than than Glenn Greenwald's take on Bayh:

It's impossible to find a more perfectly representative face for the rotted Washington establishment than Evan Bayh. He is the pure expression of virtually every attribute that makes the Beltway so dysfunctional, deceitful and corrupt.

Bayh wants to send other people into every proposed war he can find and keep them there forever without ever bearing any of the costs himself -- not in military service for him or his family nor even in higher taxes to pay for his glorious wars. Sacrifice is for everyone other than Evan Bayh and his friends. He runs around praising himself as a "deficit hawk" while recklessly supporting wars and indefinite occupations that the country can't afford and which drive us further into debt. He feigns concern over the "deficit" only when it comes time to deny ordinary Americans benefits which he and his family already possess in abundance. He is a loyal servant to the insurance and health care industries over his own constituents -- as his wife sits on the Boards of numerous health care giants, who, right when Bayh became a Senator, began paying her millions of dollars in cash and stock. And this Sermonizer of Personal Responsibility is the ultimate by-product of nepotism, following faithfully and effortlessly in the footsteps of his Daddy-Senator, whose seat he now occupies. The fact that he's a Democrat -- and was Obama's close-second choice for Vice President -- just underscores how bipartisan these afflictions are.

Apr. 27 2011 10:43 AM

was john mccain's birthplace discussed as much as obama's?

of course this is racial.

Apr. 27 2011 10:37 AM
Robert from NYC

Evan Bayh, oh my! Each day this station does something to support my decision to stop supporting it. This is one of those. NPR has gone wimpy.

Apr. 27 2011 10:33 AM
David from West Hempstead

Brian: Be sure to ask Senator Bayh about his work at McGuire Woods, and as a contributor to Fox News. I'm sure that's doing wonders for Washington's "strident partisanship."

Apr. 27 2011 10:00 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

What does Senator Bayh say to a critic like me who thinks that the DEMOCRATS in Congress, aided and encouraged by Obama, have pursued the most divisive and vicious partisanship in modern history. They have promoted class warfare and gleefully fanned racial and ethnic tensions to maintain their coalition of "victim groups". They have heaped on public versus private sector animus as well, not to mention anti-Wall Street demonization. Right out of Saul Alinsky's playbook. (Vintage Books, 1971.)

Am I wrong, Senator?

Apr. 27 2011 09:59 AM

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