Tag Archives: Evan Bayh

There’s Law and There’s Politics

A lawyer friend of mine recently sent me an email commenting on the Recount Commission’s ruling on Charlie White’s residency.

“Contrary to what I repeatedly heard from the Commission members yesterday, mostly Wheeler, Indiana law does not state that residence is totally a function of one’s intent.  While important, the Supreme Court in the Evan Bayh case said these things about the role of intent in domicile cases.  First, it said that “a self-serving statement of intent is not sufficient to find that a new residence has been established.” (“I intended to live at Broad Leaf at the home of the woman I divorced 3 years earlier, while I was engaged to another woman, and after I’d leased and then purchased a condominium with a 30-year mortgage and paid all the utility bills while my fiancé was living there.”) Second, the Bayh case held that residency requires both intent and “evidence of acts taken in furtherance of the requisite intent, which makes the intent manifest and believable.”  In other words, one’s professed intent, to be made believable, requires conduct that is consistent with that professed intent.  And third, the Court in the Bayh case emphasized that a location cannot be one’s domicile unless it is one’s “true, fixed, permanent home,” not a place (like one’s ex-wife’s home) where one goes occasionally to “crash”, i.e. a purely temporary arrangement.”

The Commission essentially ruled that all White needed to do was profess an intent to reside at his ex-wife’s home.  But as my friend pointed out, his ex-wife explicitly testified that the arrangement was “never intended to be permanent but only temporary.” Furthermore, White’s contemporaneous conduct and the circumstances surrounding his divorce and engagement to another woman was–in any world most of us inhabit or recognize–totally inconsistent with his testimony that he intended to take up permanent residence with his ex.  He leased and then purchased the new condo and moved his fiancé into it at no charge to her; he represented to his lending institution, to his future employer, to his prior employer and to the IRS that this condo would be his permanent residence. If this were a made-for-TV movie, the obvious question would be: “Were you lying then or are you lying now, Mr. White?”

As my friend conceded, the process is and was intended to be political rather than judicial in nature, so that a political rather than a judicial outcome would result.  And that is precisely what happened here. If White thinks he will have as easy a time of it when the criminal charges against him are heard, he’s likely to be very disappointed.

The great irony is that, by refusing Republican and Democratic demands that he resign, White is continuing to embarrass the same Republican party that provided him with last week’s Pyrrhic victory.

The Peculiar Worldview of Evan Bayh

The news yesterday that former Indiana Senator Evan Bayh would be working for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce–along with former Bush Chief of Staff Andy Card–reminded me that Bayh is a man without any evident political philosophy other than self-interest.

A number of years ago, when Andy Jacobs retired from Congress, I participated in a “Retirement Roast,” sponsored by the Marion County Democratic Party. (Bill Hudnut and I were the two Republicans among the roasters.) I used my five minutes to apologize to Andy for having called him a name during my unsuccessful campaign to unseat him–I had called him a Democrat. As I explained then, “I was young and naive. I didn’t understand that Indiana doesn’t HAVE Democrats–we just have our Republicans and your Republicans. Like Evan Bayh.”

I don’t think any line I have ever delivered has gotten a bigger laugh. The Democrats in the room clearly agreed with my assessment of Evan Bayh (who was sitting near the front of the room).

There’s nothing wrong, of course, with being a more conservative Democrat–a Blue Dog. But even then, it was apparent to many that Bayh carefully constructed his political persona to meet the preferences of Indiana voters. During his terms in the Governor’s office, politics–defined as what would be good for Evan Bayh–regularly trumped policy. I remember a story told by a friend of mine who ran the HIV division of the State Health Department: the federal government offered to pay the salaries and overhead for two additional employees working on AIDS issues. My friend desperately needed the extra help, and was delighted, because the addition of these two positions would impose zero cost on the state. Bayh refused to allow him to accept the offer, because he was preparing to run for the Senate, and didn’t want anyone to be able to accuse him of adding public employees–even employees who would help Hoosiers and wouldn’t cost the state a cent.

Bayh’s retirement from the Senate was accompanied by lots of sanctimony, and his typical disregard for other Democrats–his timing made it virtually impossible for the party that had supported him to retain the seat, and he subsequently did very little to help Brad Ellsworth.  He joined a law firm (to lobby), and became a contributor to Fox “News,” lending that propaganda mill a veneer of bipartisanship.

Now, he’s signed on with the U.S. Chamber, which (unlike our local chamber) has been controlled by the extreme right for the past several years. He will be helping the Chamber maintain the fiction that its vendetta against even the most reasonable regulations is somehow a “bipartisan” effort.

This morning, the Star quoted Bayh’s denial that his Chamber job involves lobbying, because he won’t be personally calling his former Democratic Senate colleagues–a curiously narrow definition of lobbying.

My guess is that most Democratic Senators would be unlikely to take calls from Mr. It’s All About Me, Me, Me in any event.

Padded Bras and Evan Bayh

A hoax story circulated over the weekend about an Islamic council in Pakistan protesting the use of padded bras. Fox “News” doesn’t fact-check, as we all know, so it reported the story as fact.

Also today, Fox announced that Evan Bayh would be joining the network, as a “Democratic” commentator.

Kevin Drum summed up the situation perfectly. Noting Bayh’s abrupt resignation from the Senate (a resignation that cost his party that Senate seat), Drum noted:

“Even at the time, Bayh’s move was tough to understand. He implored Americans to take seriously the “challenges of historic import” that “threaten America’s future,” while at the same time announcing that he would stop working on these challenges altogether.

And what would he do with this time? Bayh said he had a few ideas in mind, including possibly teaching and/or philanthropic work. He added at the time that he hoped to do something “worthwhile for society.”

That was a year ago. Today, the former senator who decried “strident partisanship” and “unyielding ideology” will be paid by a ridiculous cable news outlet that exists to spew “strident partisanship” and “unyielding ideology.”

Not to mention his lobbying gig.

Facebook posts have registered a number of reactions to this latest news, but surprise has not been among them. Anyone who has followed Evan’s career can appreciate how appropriate it was that the announcement came on the same day as the debunking of the story about padded bras.

Fake boobs, fake Democrat–it’s all about pretending to be more substantial than you really are.

Recycled Politics

Indiana citizens aren’t making much progress recycling paper and plastic, but we seem to be leading in the reuse of old politicians. Evan Bayh is apparently preparing to run for Governor again, and in the race to replace him, Republicans want us to send Dan Coats back to Washington—a city he is intimately familiar with, having been there as a Representative, Senator, Ambassador and lobbyist.

I don’t know which is worse, listening to Bayh piously declare that he left the Senate because his sensibilities were offended by partisan sniping, or listening to Coats engage in it.

This is the point in the political cycle where it is nearly impossible to avoid 30-second spots in which Candidate A explains that Candidate B is unfit for public office, because—unlike Candidate A—Candidate B lacks “Hoosier Values.” Plenty of politicians employ these tactics and the empty phrases that invariably accompany them, and it may be unfair to pick on Dan Coats, but his ads are especially vacuous.

Here is a man who certainly should know something about policy. He’s been part of the legislature; a member of George W. Bush’s inner circle (he was even tapped by Bush to shepherd a Supreme Court nominee through the confirmation process) and most recently, a high-priced lobbyist. Yet his political ads are absolutely devoid of content; they consist entirely of labeling and name-calling.

The wisdom and adequacy of the new healthcare law is an entirely appropriate issue for debate and discussion. Coats clearly disapproves of the law, but he doesn’t tell us why. He just calls it “Obamacare” and “a bad idea.” What parts of it does he disagree with? Does it go too far? Not far enough?

In one ad, Coats says that support for the economic stimulus was a “vote against Indiana.” There is an overwhelming consensus among economists—conservative and liberal alike—that the economy would be immeasurably worse without that stimulus. If Coats disagrees, he doesn’t tell us why.  We are supposed to know the stimulus was “bad” because it is associated with “Pelosi, Reid and Obama.”  Should voters ask Coats how he reconciles his claim to fiscal conservatism with his support for the profligate Bush administration? These are not arguments; they are guilt-by-association smears.

As long as we’re recycling, I’ll resurrect the famous Wendy’s commercial question: where’s the beef?

The truth is that there isn’t any “beef.” Coats—and Bayh, if he really does run again for Governor—are useful to their respective parties because they have money and name recognition, not because they bring energy or new ideas to the table.  They have name recognition because they’ve been around for a long time—and have thus been part of the problem. They have money because they are old Washington insiders who’ve demonstrated an ability to play nicely with the vested interests. We can assume they have no new ideas, because they aren’t offering any.

I’ll recycle paper and plastic, but I draw the line at recycling old politicians.