Daniel Larison make a good point about the Bayh 12 juggernaut: it’s not just that Bayh is especially ill-suited to primary Obama (though I think he is), but that the whole idea of a centrist insurgency in either party is ridiculous:
“Centrists” do not run insurgent campaigns very well*. There are no passionate, vocal groups of voters eagerly demanding that government be more solicitous of corporate interests and more willing to start wars overseas. There are not many large voting blocs requesting the offshoring of whole industries. To be a “centrist” is necessarily to champion the interests of concentrated power and wealth and to ignore and deride as “populist” insanity anything that stands in the way of those interests. Who has ever heard of an explicitly anti-populist political insurgency? Insurgents always set themselves up as the independent outsiders who will stand up for the people against the establishment. Just imagine Bayh trying to sell himself as the establishmentarian who wants to tone down the “radicalism” of Obama’s Rubinite economics and his Clintonian hawkish foreign policy. What Lane proposes is that an old DLC-type Democrat will be positioned to win over a party that is increasingly disgusted by the overrepresentation of DLC-type Democrats in the current administration. This misreads the mood of the party and the substance of administration policy very badly.
My impression is that at this point, being a centrist simply means taking Village-approved stands on most issues — wishy-washy on social issues (against gay marriage but against that crazy constitutional amendment as well), pro-corporate, pro-blue panel ribbon of every sort, mildly-to-highly “hawkish” on foreign policy. In short, pro-status quo. No, that doesn’t make for much of an insurgency.