I’ll let this Ezra Klein deconstruction of Evan Bayh speak for itself:
So: Evan Bayh’s not a major deficit hypocrite. He’s a minor deficit hypocrite. But a deficit hypocrite all the same. In his exit speech, he describes himself as “a lonely voice for balancing the budget and restraining spending.” Of course, there’s no such thing in Washington as a “lonely voice” for a balanced budget. There is a cacophony of such voices, and a dearth of such votes. But votes are the only things able to do the job. If voices balanced the budget, treasury bonds would never rise.
Accusing a politician of deficit hypocrisy isn’t a particularly serious slur. Pretty much every politician is guilty of it. It’s a bit like trumpeting the fact that some politician or another wears a suit. But if Bayh’s sins are ordinary, so too was his career. Which is why I was surprised to see my colleague Jonathan Capehart term this a “brain drain.” I’ve talked to Bayh before, and like Jonathan Chait, found him special only in his ability to formulate platitudes on the fly. The guy missed out on a terrific career as a fortune cookie author (“Your country will be assured of greatness! Your lucky deficit number is zero!”), but the sciences will not weep for their loss.
It is kind of refreshing to hear someone in Washington speak about politicians that way- it basically reads like a cleaned up entry in the Buffalo Beast’s 50 worst people in America. In an era when the country’s greatest villains and biggest failures, after years of screwing the American people are guaranteed a reach-around on the op-ed pages of the WaPo and in the national media as they ride off into the sunset to their new lobbying jobs or wingnut welfare sinecures, having someone clearly and accurately define what a mediocrity someone was and is strikes me as a nice change.
And most devastating of all for Evan Bayh is that every word of it is true.