Damned to Mediocrity

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.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit






82 replies
  1. 1
    geg6 says:

    Well, good news for you, since you liked this nice piece from Mr. Klein. I’m told he’s going to be writing for Newsweek, in addition to his WaPo blog.

    Big Media Ezra!

    About time we had some young hot stuff among the bobbleheads. And Ezra being in the dead tree media makes it exponentially more likely we might start seeing Ezra being an actual bobblehead and, hopefully saying shit like this.

  2. 2
    Cat Lady says:

    We should start a pool on the over – under on the number of days left of Ezra’s employment.

  3. 3
    D-Chance. says:

    Ah… the old “we never really wanted/liked/needed him anyway” meme.

    Amazing how every time a team member loses or leaves, whichever side he’s on, he turns out to be one of those types. After the fact, that is… I guess sour grapes rationalization provides some sort of false comfort.

  4. 4
    John Cole says:

    @D-Chance.: You clearly have not paid attention to what has been said about Evan Bayh on this website.

  5. 5
    Kryptik says:

    @Cat Lady:

    I got $20 that he’s replaced by Liz Cheney by the end of the summer.

  6. 6
    EconWatcher says:

    I’ve noticed that Ezra Klein seems to have some weird, archaic notion that you should develop technical expertise in your main area of punditry, and has actually done so in the area of health care economics. The kid is never going to make it in this town.

  7. 7
    geg6 says:

    @D-Chance.:

    Unfortunately for your theory and for Sen. Bayh, most of us have been saying that about Evan Bayh for about 10 or 12 years now.

    Please show me how anyone here EVER had a good word to say about Evan Bayh. Nahgahhappen.

  8. 8
    Joy says:

    I’m waiting for BTD to show up.

  9. 9
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @D-Chance.:

    Ah… the old “we never really wanted/liked/needed him anyway” meme.
    __
    Amazing how every time a team member loses or leaves, whichever side he’s on, he turns out to be one of those types. After the fact, that is… I guess sour grapes rationalization provides some sort of false comfort.

    LOLWUT? I mean…what are we even supposed to do with this nonsense?

    @Joy:

    I’m waiting for BTD to show up.

    Don’t you put that kind of evil on this thread.

  10. 10
    beltane says:

    There is a long-time poster at GOS who has always referred to bland Bayh as “Senator Dial Tone”. It is a fitting epithet.

  11. 11
    Zifnab says:

    And most devastating of all for Evan Bayh is that every word of it is true.

    :-p Well, he’ll never get reelected now.

    Bayh is just so epically full of shit. It takes enormous brass balls to stand up during a massive recession, in the middle of a massive legislative push to fix the last eight years all at once, when tax receipts are low and cities and states are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, when everyone has an opinion or a plan or a new political party hell bent on saving the nation, and suggest he’s the lonely voice for balancing the budget.

    It’s like he hasn’t visited the Senate in the last twenty years.

    Fucking blowhard jackhole took a serious look at the state of the nation, shit himself, and ran for cover behind his corporate friends. He’s everything that the GOP has ever said is wrong with the Democratic Party (which is why he’ll quickly rise to high esteem with the opposition party now that he’s off the ticket, no doubt).

  12. 12
    beltane says:

    @Joy: Damn, now he’s going to show up and start an argument with every last one of us.

  13. 13
    Koz says:

    “….the Buffalo Beast’s 50 worst people in America.”

    Really? Where’s the DFH’s and other liberals?

  14. 14
    Face says:

    Can we stop blogging about Bayh every 15 minutes? You’re telling me there’s nothing Olympian or Wall Street-related worth discussing instead?

  15. 15
    Joy says:

    @Midnight Marauder: I didn’t even think about the possibility of putting a hex on this thread. Sorry!

  16. 16
    slag says:

    Agreed.

    I still can’t figure out why WaPo hired Ezra. Or Greg Sargent, for that matter. They both stick pretty far out from the rest of the crowd (Ezra more so than Greg). I mean, what’s the catch?

  17. 17
    Joy says:

    @beltane: I swear I’ll never do it again!

  18. 18
    Alex S. says:

    Well, I don’t know what to make of this and him. I’m even inclined to believe his reasoning for leaving the Senate. After all, he was Mr. Centrist, Mr. New Democrat. But centrism is useless if there is no center and the partisanship in the Senate is at a previously unseen level. I found it a little strange that he didn’t move to the left in the wake of Obama’s victory in Indiana. Still, he kept a low profile during the health-care debate. I wonder if he fears losing to a new Dan Quayle like his dad.

  19. 19
    Kryptik says:

    @Face:

    Well, Darrell Green, formerly of the Redskins, celebrated his 50th b-day by running a 4.43 in the 40-yrd. Then again, he was pulling 4.2s at 40, so the man is pretty much already ridiculous.

  20. 20
    Napoleon says:

    Best part about what Ezra says is where he calls out one of the other writers from the WaPo.

  21. 21
    dr. bloor says:

    @Face:

    Can we stop blogging about Bayh every 15 minutes?

    This. Enough Bayh and the crowd he drags in. We need us some Tunch, Cole.

  22. 22
    geg6 says:

    Well, I think James Fallows has a wonderful take on Bayh and calls him out in a big way but, in pure Fallows fashion, with less of the vitriol I’d use:

    http://jamesfallows.theatlanti.....ss_mov.php

    I find myself reading him more and more and nodding my head in agreement almost every single time.

  23. 23
    beltane says:

    @Face: As far as the Olympics go, the preliminary rounds of the curling competition are being held today. Even Evan Bayh is more exciting than that.

  24. 24
    geg6 says:

    @dr. bloor:

    We need us some Tunch Lily, Cole.

    Fix’d.

  25. 25
    Zifnab says:

    @D-Chance.:

    Amazing how every time a team member loses or leaves, whichever side he’s on, he turns out to be one of those types.

    And wait till Lieberman kicks it. All those rose petals and sun beams we’ve been pitching at him for the last ten years will melt away into vulgarity and spite. And Harry Reid – people around here aren’t able to shut up about what a great Majority Leader he is, but come next November if he can’t hold his seat, I guarantee no one here will have a single nice thing to say about him.

    Liberals are a fickle and thankless lot.

    I mean, look what we did to Howard Dean after he lost the ’04 Presidential Bid? Or Al Gore, for that matter. Nothing but heaps of scorn. Shame, shame, shame.

  26. 26
    slag says:

    @Face: Well. Bayh is endemic. Not as a man but as a mindset. So, until we cure what ails us, I think it’s kind of good to keep probing it rather than just slapping a bandaid on it.

    On a related note, Yglesias points out the biggest problem liberals have: we tend to get nothing but blame.

    (I should note that even I blame liberals for this problem. Because we haven’t found a way to get what we want. Or to at least not get the blame. This problem is our responsibility to solve.)

  27. 27
    Martin says:

    @Kryptik: Yeah, that’s wrong.

  28. 28
    mr. whipple says:

    @geg6:

    Great piece, thanks for linking.

  29. 29
    28 Percent says:

    John Cole if that is your real name this is the kind of ARROGANCE that you stupid headed DUMocrats always use with your elitism and you’re acting so high and mighty. You get after Evan Bayh for being “mediocre” and tear him down and insult him this way just like you look at the MAJORITY of Real Americans and act like we are only average intelligent or worse. Well you should not and what is wrong with being mediocre aka “centrist” anyway? Even if he is mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance? But you will not admit it you are always putting your leaders above the PEOPLE and maintaining your elitist class differences that is not democracy that is SOC1AL1SM you can look it up.

  30. 30
    dr. bloor says:

    @geg6:

    Bah. Softie.

  31. 31
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @geg6:

    Well, I think James Fallows has a wonderful take on Bayh and calls him out in a big way but, in pure Fallows fashion, with less of the vitriol I’d use:
    __
    I find myself reading him more and more and nodding my head in agreement almost every single time.

    A big co-sign on that. I often jump over to Fallows’ place with greater frequency to see if there’s anything there to wash away the Sully stink of a particular day.

  32. 32
    geg6 says:

    @mr. whipple:

    Yes, it is. And I found it just too much that Fallows used the pic of Jimmy Stewart (as Mr. Smith) since James Stewart was a revered native of Indiana, PA. Not that I expect Fallows knows that, but I do and found it funny.

  33. 33
    geg6 says:

    @mr. whipple:

    Yes, it is. And I found it just too much that Fallows used the pic of Jimmy Stewart (as Mr. Smith) since James Stewart was a revered native of Indiana, PA. Not that I expect Fallows knows that, but I do and found it funny.

  34. 34
    Kryptik says:

    @Martin:

    Kinda makes you wanna rethink your exercise habits, especially the 20-30-somes.

  35. 35
    Ash Can says:

    @beltane: I’m thinking that the trick is to talk past him, if you need to reply to his blathering at all. It’s worked every time for me so far. The way I figure, since it’s all about him, don’tcha know, he zeroes in on his name and blows off everything else. If we just talk among ourselves without mentioning his name, it just might help.

  36. 36
    geg6 says:

    Sorry for the double post. FYWP.

  37. 37
    Catsy says:

    @28 Percent: Transparent. Try harder.

  38. 38
    mr. whipple says:

    “Not that I expect Fallows knows that,”

    Make that two of us.

  39. 39
    Maude says:

    @28 Percent: I’d say something, but it’s too easy.

  40. 40
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    @Face:

    Some of us are Bayh-curious…

  41. 41
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    @geg6:
    __

    We need us some Tunch Lily Tunch, Cole.

    Phixed it back.

  42. 42
    rootless_e says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey: 100 groan points.

  43. 43
    AhabTRuler says:

    Hey, don’t you guys know where you can get all the Tunch & Lily that you can handle?

    &#060/sotto voce&#062

  44. 44
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    @Ash Can: We’re probably all liars and hypocrites, anyway.

  45. 45
  46. 46
    slag says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey: I laughed. You can’t beat a good auditory pun.

  47. 47
    Darkmoth says:

    @28 Percent:

    Yeoman effort, but the word length/spelling error ratio is too high. I’m not sure a genuine specimen would even attempt “representation”.

  48. 48
    Da Bomb says:

    Ok… who left the gate open for this 28 Percent troll.

    And it’s a sucky troll at that. Kinda makes me miss BOB.

    I haz a sad now.

  49. 49
    bemused says:

    28 percent is more amusing than brick oven…stereotypical but without the sleeze. I wonder if they both go to the same “facility”.

  50. 50
    lol says:

    I don’t think you’ll find many outside the Beltway praising Bayh. Progressives might have (mostly) bit their tongues because they really didn’t expect to get anyone better out of Indiana.

    Lieberman? CT can and almost did do better. But we were stuck with Bayh or a Republican.

  51. 51

    @dr. bloor:

    This. Enough Bayh and the crowd he drags in. We need us some Tunch, Cole.

    Hey, it’s not as bad as the tabloid fest TPM is having over the Huntsville murders. I thought that that kind of shit was what we created blogs to avoid.

  52. 52
    Blogosphere Blues says:

    This is so weird. I had to go to Wonkette who had a blogger who went to Vanity Fair to find out what the prospective Dem candidates for Evan Spayed’s seat were.

    http://www.vanityfair.com/onli.....has-a.html

  53. 53

    @geg6:

    Please show me how anyone here EVER had a good word to say about Evan Bayh.

    I’m pretty sure that I said that he has good hair one time. That’s about it.

  54. 54
    Kevin Phillips Bong says:

    @geg6: I’m always down for some Lily Cole, even if I had to sit through Dr. Parnassus to get it.

  55. 55
    Nethead Jay says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey: Joining the chorus: That’s goddamn inspired :D

  56. 56
    28 Percent says:

    Derrida wept. Would one of the long-time readers here who actually gets my art please explain deconstructionism for dummies to teh n00bs? I’m going to go find a drink.

  57. 57
    demo woman says:

    Sen. Bayh said that congress never created a job. Did his campaign staff then pelt his office with tomatoes?
    Their are a lot of government workers and the previous president did his best to add to that list.
    Federal money is going to be spent building nuclear power plants in GA that I assume will create jobs.

  58. 58
    Ana Gama says:

    I’m shocked I tell ya, shocked, just shocked!

    A day after he announced his retirement from the U.S. Senate, Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh declined to rule out a career as a lobbyist.

    “I have no idea what I’m doing next,” Bayh said in a statement to HuffPost. He would not elaborate further on his career plans when his term ends in 11 months.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....64082.html

    What about Congress being broken?? Jackass.

  59. 59
    Ana Gama says:

    @28 Percent: I’m voting for the “or worse” option.

  60. 60
    mr. whipple says:

    “Sen. Bayh said that congress never created a job. Did his campaign staff then pelt his office with tomatoes?”

    Jeebus. I guess he never realized he had, you know, a freaking JOB.

    What a knob.

  61. 61
    eemom says:

    About time we had some young hot stuff among the bobbleheads.

    this. He IS a cutie, ain’t he?

    I’ve noticed that Ezra Klein seems to have some weird, archaic notion that you should develop technical expertise in your main area of punditry, and has actually done so in the area of health care economics.

    and THIS. Funny how many ZERO expertise people — former Hollywood producers, for example — are continually opining on that subject, and also lavishing scorn upon those like Ezra and Jonathan Gruber who actually do know what the fuck they’re talking about.

  62. 62
    Jager says:

    When I was a kid, I was around plenty of politicians, I met them because I hung out with my Grandfather who was a well connected Judge. The politicians I met in the 50’s and 60’s had a pretty damn good handle on the wants, needs and desires of ALL their constituents. Later, through business, well into the 80’s, I continued to met some pretty big political names who were connected to what was going on. I have spent time with such diverse politicos as: Ed Brooke, Margaret Heckler, Bob Drinan, John Kerry, Kevin White, Bill Weld, Ted Kennedy and others. After St. Ronnie was elected a different sort of Republican politician began to show up, more partisan, less “feel” for the mood of the people and the Democrats changed too…less feisty, more moderate and intimidated by the R’s and in some cases even less aware of what the voters were thinking. A couple of years ago I met a prominent Dem Senator at a cocktail party and was stunned by his lack of knowledge of current issues and his shitty attitude. If they were around today, I think Maggie Heckler and Bob Drinan would agree on more issues than they would disagree on…and they were both better people than most in office today!

  63. 63
    David in NY says:

    @28 Percent:

    You were just not up to the artistry of Merkin Patriot. Sorry.

  64. 64
    Martin says:

    @Kryptik: Hell, rethink my exercise habit since about the age of 6.

  65. 65
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @28 Percent:

    Derrida wept. Would one of the long-time readers here who actually gets my art please explain deconstructionism for dummies to teh n00bs? I’m going to go find a drink.

    I think this insightful moment from The Departed might clear up the matter:

    Mr. French: [calmly] Hey, hey, hey… do you know me?
    Billy Costigan: No, no.
    Mr. French: Well, I’m the guy that tells you there are guys you can hit and there’s guys you can’t. Now, that’s not quite a guy you can’t hit, but it’s almost a guy you can’t hit. So I’m gonna make a fuckin’ ruling on this right now. You don’t fuckin’ hit him. You understand?

    Or something.

  66. 66
    David in NY says:

    @Jager:

    Sigh. We all have a list like that (Brooke, Heckler, Drinan, Kerry, White, Weld, Kennedy). Just the other day I was commiserating with another DFH on the GOS, or at Atrios, or somewhere, about Michigan in the old days — Phil Hart, Bill Milliken, even, for God’s sake, Romney père or the mediocre Bob Griffin. To have reasonable people like that again would seem like dying and going to heaven.

  67. 67
    Dave Fud says:

    The only politician who is not hypocritical on the issue of spending is Senator Coburn from Oklahoma. He is a freakshow (bathroom lesbians in high school) and an embarrassment (I spent 35 years in Oklahoma, so I can say this), but he is like a one man checkpoint on spending, to the point where they name omnibus spending bills after him with all of the spending he held lumped together. He is also owned lock, stock, and barrel by Club for Growth.

    No politician has their hands clean on spending.

    That’s not to say that I particularly believe in balanced budgets. However, it is simple to understand that the only pork to a politician is money going to someone else’s district, preferably for a DFH’s cause or district to enable discriminating punches.

    If the government had to do a return on investment analysis instead of focusing on balanced budget, maybe we’d see a change slanting spending towards building infrastructure, schools, and health. Maybe they already measure ROI, who knows. But either way, there won’t be a magical balanced budget that leaves out pork, because politicians seek re-election, and they want to slather than pork around their district. And they always will.

  68. 68
    Ana Gama says:

    OT

    John Murtha’s funeral was today. This kind of cracks me up:

    Father William George, a Jesuit priest and president of Georgetown Preparatory School, read from the Book of Ecclesiastes, the portion about how for everything there is a season and time.
    “The writer of Ecclesiastes could also have written ‘a time to make law and a time to change laws,’ ” Father George said, adding, wryly, “and, yes, a time to earmark.”

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg.....27-100.stm

    R.I.P.

  69. 69
    28 Percent says:

    @David in NY:

    Are you kidding? That was a mass of credible paradox woven around a quote defending one of Nixon’s Supreme Court nominees. It was a triumph of empty contradictions and meaningless drivel dressed in obscuring prose and JESUS CAPS, and it has enough verisimilitude that it fools the noobs. It even works on meta-levels, because by creating this absurd character who harangues about elitism, I am acknowledging the validity of that complaint by presenting it to be mocked. It is a fucking thing of beauty.

    28% +3

  70. 70
    les says:

    @28 Percent:

    I love to hear an artist discuss his work. Thank you. Go for 4.

  71. 71
    Jay B. says:

    @David in NY:

    If you are looking for “reasonable” people, Drinan would make you faint dead away. He was righteous, confrontational, brilliant and a Jesuit to boot. He, correctly, was the first to launch Impeachment charges against Nixon — for illegally bombing the hell out of Cambodia. He was also a dedicated anti-war, anti-nukes, pro-human rights Democrat and a courageous clerical voice in favor of abortion rights. He wasn’t a go-along, get-along type.

  72. 72
    David in NY says:

    @28 Percent:

    I actually think the meta-post (#69) was vastly superior to the original.

  73. 73
    David in NY says:

    @Jay B.:

    You are quite correct, but the “reasonableness” in the context of the original post was “connected to what was going on” in ordinary lives and in the voters’ minds, and I think even Drinan fits there, as do the Republicans in both lists. That is, neither Drinan nor any of the others listed was out of his fucking mind.

  74. 74
    Jager says:

    Jay B

    Drinan and Heckler represented adjoining districts in Ma, and they did disagree on many issues. What I was trying to say that even those two would be closer on most issues today important to people than any R-D pair in DC today. Say education?

  75. 75
    Darkmoth says:

    @28 Percent:

    It even works on meta-levels, because by creating this absurd character who harangues about elitism, I am acknowledging the validity of that complaint by presenting it to be mocked

    This line deserves a beret and a Beatnik snap. Untrammeled awesome.

    I still maintain that the original lacked the enraged incoherence of the authentic wingnut(tm). At no point did you fail to connect your thoughts, or trip over the keyboard in your haste to excoriate us.

  76. 76
    28 Percent says:

    @Darkmoth: well it’s good to know that that last decade of grad school screwing mid-career obscure english lit. profs wasn’t a complete waste of time.

    28% +5

  77. 77
    Origuy says:

    @28 Percent: Roman Hruska regarding G. Harrold Carswell, right? I saw it right away, just had to check the spellings.

    True artistry is rarely appreciated at the moment of its creation.

  78. 78
    Cain says:

    @28 Percent:

    Derrida wept. Would one of the long-time readers here who actually gets my art please explain deconstructionism for dummies to teh n00bs? I’m going to go find a drink.

    haha.. yeah, you have to introduce yourself to brand new bunch of readers unfortunately. That’s what you get for being away for so long. Sadly, your first post in the thread wasn’t as good. I only smirked instead of LOL.

    cain

  79. 79
    28 Percent says:

    @Cain: Point taken. It looks like the next thread’s full, but I’ll tell you what. The next policy thread that BTD steps into (if I can get into it before it’s swamped) I’ll see if I can’t come up with a riff off of one of his comments. Betcha I can work Hobbes, Monty Python and Bill Murray into a single paragraph and still get someone to bite.

  80. 80
    Church Lady says:

    @28 Percent: Really bad spoofing. Up your game. Like BOB.

  81. 81
    jamie says:

    well I think the problem here is hiring someone because his parents are nice people will trend towards predictable mediocrity.

  82. 82
    liberal says:

    Thanks, JC, for the Buffalo Beast link! Had been looking for that and given up a few weeks ago. Wife is gonna be happy now.

Comments are closed.