Evan Bayh better get his story straight. First, we heard it was the collapse of the jobs bill, care of the bumbling Harry Reid, that chased Bayh out the door. Now the spin is that it was the Senate thumbs down on the debt commission. (“Both parties were to blame, he said. Twenty-three Republicans [and one independent] voted no, seven of them people who had previously co-sponsored the commission bill. So did 22 Democrats, many of them committee chairmen looking out for their own prerogatives.”) That’s two “final straws.” What wasn’t a final straw, though, was passage of a monstrous 2009 budget, or all the backroom deals on ObamaCare, or the fake accounting that pronounced ObamaCare deficit neutral. That was all perfectly fine with Bayh.
Bayh is now enjoying the adulation of many pundits looking for a heroic figure and a validater for their view that Congress is inherently dysfunctional. But let’s be honest here: dysfunction also relates to the substance of what Congress has been doing, not merely what it has failed to do. (And is Bayh “part of the problem” because he opposed cap-and-trade and therefore was an “obstructionist”?) And in that regard, Bayh, like virtually all his fellow Democrats, facilitated rotten and irresponsible legislation.
But for now, Bayh is a convenient figure to use in the assault on “gridlock” — which is normally defined these days as failure to do everything on the liberal wish list. Well, if that’s gridlock, then things are working spectacularly well in the Senate, just as the Fouding Fathers intended. The Senate rules are there to slow the rush into foolishness and tyranny and make it hard to pass legislation unless it enjoys wide support. So until Obama-Reid-Pelosi start coming up with legislation that enjoys that sort of support, we should celebrate gridlock and refrain from shedding too many tears over the departure of a senator who talked a good game but voted like most partisan Democrats.