Susan Bayh is a big blonde phony

Dateline: Sun 26 Jul 2009

Indianapolis Star reporter Daniel Lee gets my vote for writing today's Page 1 story about Susan Bayh's role as a "professional board member." Mrs. Bayh, the wife of Indiana's Sen. Evan Bayh, serves on six corporate boards, including that of Wellpoint, the nation's largest insurance company. Her lucrative income in the capacity may well influence her husband's vote on crucial health care legislation.

Some may argue that this story already has been hashed out, but Lee's lead gave it fresh impetus: "President Barack Obama called Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh to the Oval Office on July 17 for a one-on-one meeting about health-care reform, Democrat to Democrat."

There's that, plus all the other hard info Lee assembled: Mrs. Bayh earned $2.1 million from publicly traded health-care companies from 2006 to 2008; Bayh himself won't say where he stands on health-care reform; and Mrs. Bayh refused to be interviewed for the article.

Another salient point: the woman is "overboarded," according to a board advisory web site's analysis.

Writes Lee:

"According to Romanek (the web site), most directors are expected to devote 20 to 30 hours a month to each board. That means Susan Bayh's six current board sites could consume up to 180 hours a month. The eight she served on last year could require 60 hours a week."

Although Sen. Bayh denies there's a problem and insists that his wife's role poses conflict of interest for him, plenty of voters and obviously Democrats are concerned that's not the case.

Mrs. Bayh's financial interests are clearly at odds with President Obama's goals. Let's see who blinks first.

Should be interesting, and thanks to Lee for an insightful and timely piece.

Good reading.









Wilson46201 [unverified] said:

The teabaggers so frightened by Obamacare should be happy to see what allies against national healthcare insurance they have. Susan Bayh is likely opposed to Obamacare too -- she's likely on your side! The Senator also seems to be against Obamacare: so where's the problem for the hysterical teabaggers? Giant insurance companies are fighting reform just like the wingnuts are!

2009-07-26 20:23:51

Wilson46201 [unverified] said:

Gary Welsh at AdvanceIndiana really vented his innate misogyny writing about Susan Bayh: <i>"She doesn't spend anything close to that amount of time on the work for these boards, unless you include the time she spends shopping for new clothes, getting her hair styled and primping in front of the mirror."</i> He just about called her "an ignorant slut". Tsk, tsk, tsk...

Many people that know both Senator Evan Bayh and his wife say that she has the brains in that duo!

2009-07-26 20:30:01

ruthholl [Member] said:

Whoa, Wilson: who said I was against Obamacare. I think it is an idea whose time has come. I would like to see him get some reform passed. I voted for the guy, spent my own time and money in Ohio and Indy and Putnam County to see him victorious. Sweet moment it was, too.
If Susan is the brains in that team, they are in deeper trouble than I thought.
She needs to focus her energies on a few boards, and Evan Bayh needs to figure out if he is a Republican or a Democrat.
Sometimes, it's not about money, but principles. Trust me, I have plenty of friends who have sent him emails/letters stating just that. They want to see him man up and vote with the party.

2009-07-26 20:44:40

John Howard [unverified] said:

Of course we would KNOW where Susan Bayh stands on the matter if she wouldn't hide from reporters who want to ask her for her side of the story.

2009-07-26 20:53:39

Wilson46201 [unverified] said:

Sorry, I never meant to imply Ruth Holladay was necessarily opposed to so-called "ObamaCare". I'm still reeling from the ugliness of your beloved Star's online commenters about the rather good story this morning.

Actually, that lengthy story was old news - I'd read it all before elsewhere. It was timely nevertheless to carry the story considering Evan's imminent vote on healthcare.

2009-07-26 20:55:17

Sick of Evan [unverified] said:

Susan also is reportedly on the board of Smith and Wesson......her conflicts of interest are unacceptable and she and Evan should be embarrassed. Evan Bayh will never get my vote again.

2009-07-26 21:19:55

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

"Evan Bayh will never get my vote again."
Funny, that is exactly what I told my wife this morning. Bayh is one of the reasons I don't call myself a Democrat - even though I voted straight Demo in the last election.

He is one of the politicians who calls himself a Democrat but who is really a Republican. Peterson is another.

I wish Evan's Dad, Birch (a true populist progressive in his time), could replace sonny boy.

I covered a press conference back in the early 1990s when Neil Young ripped sonny boy apart for his phony Stepford Governor routine.

Neil generally figures things out pretty well.

2009-07-26 22:46:43

Tim Bucktoo [unverified] said:

I still remember Harrison Ullmann's name for Bayh, "Bayhsmith." As in Evan Bayh/Steve Goldsmith. Harrison said both were identical in political philosophy.

2009-07-27 08:23:20

linda [unverified] said:

"Her lucrative income in the capacity may well influence her husband's vote on crucial health care legislation."
......ya think?

2009-07-27 09:34:23

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

The broad-brush folks are all over this issue--here and elsewhere.

'Susan can't be smart because she's a blonde.'

'Ruth must be against All Things Holy because she agrees with this original story.'

Susan Bayh's board membership is fair game for questions. She's not elected, so she's under no obligation to answer. (I would, but...that's just me)

But when can we stop this insane broad-brush treatment of complex issues? It serves no purpose.

The story was and is extremely stale. Re-hashing it for some quick ink is pandering, plainly and simply. There is absolutely nothing new in the story. Kinda overstated the obvious.

Susan Bayh was doomed from the start. Pretty beauty-queen wife of a popular up-and-coming politician. How was she supposed to pursue her career--corporate law--in the mid-80s when they married and she moved here? She worked at a law firm and was criticized for the cases she took. She moved to Lilly and was criticized for working at a health-care giant.

We aren't exactly brimming at the edge with large corporations who need smart young attorneys. And if you were to have asked around in 1985-6, you would have discovered exactly that: she is a smart lady.

Add to that job climate this true maxim: the GOP threw everything it had at Evan Bayh in his first campaign for Sec. of State. They knew he would be a popular statewide name (I don't honestly think anyone thought he'd go this far, for this long...)

They threw the state's most-popular name at him: Rob Bowen. They mounted a ridiculous court challenge to his residency. Challenged his ballot status.

This is the climate in which a new bride moved to our state and hunted for a job.

If I were the Bayhs, I'd look for opportunities for Susan to make money in another way. She's in DC now, and the fishbowl is larger. Better judgment would suggest she should start putting her resume out there, if she needs or wants to work.

But can we keep this hysteria in perspective, just a little? Do we really want our daughters (and sons, for that matter) to get the message that their life partner determines their career choices?

I'll stand back now and duck the brickbats. Because some names, like Bayh, evoke all kinds of hysteria. Some of it may be founded, but after awhile, honestly, it's the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf.

2009-07-28 06:58:22

John M [unverified] said:

TTT, I agree that Ruth's "blonde" reference was unfortunate, unnecessary, and undermined her argument. Hopefully she will agree upon reflection.

I have no doubt that Susan Bayh is a "smart lady." Cal-Berkeley doesn't graduate too many dummies. Neither do top 20 law schools such as USC. Still, if we presume an average class of 200, then the top 20 law schools produce 4,000 attorneys a year. The top 20 undergraduate schools, with a conservative assumption of 3,000 seniors, confer 60,000 bachelor's degrees a year. I have never seen any reference to any academic honors that Mrs. Bayh received from USC (such as law review or academic honors--I can't find a detailed resume for her, so I accept that I might be missing the evidence). So the mere fact that she's a smart lady doesn't prove much. There are many very smart corporate lawyers out there. My sense is that very few of them get these sort of board-work opportunities at a relatively young age.

"Do we really want our daughters (and sons, for that matter) to get the message that their life partner determines their career choices?"

Not phrased in exactly that way, but yes, I do intend to tell all of my children that "having it all" is a myth. Married people live in the same house, raise children together, have rights to each other's assets, and benefit from the income of the other spouse. Employment decisions, for both the husband and the wife, probably should be joint decisions. No one forced Evan to run for governor or senator. No one forced Susan to become a high-powered corporate lawyer. Like it or not, marriage does create a conflict of interest and prevents spouses from pretending that they are perfect strangers.

2009-07-28 08:53:42

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Well, John, your argument has a practical, albeit sad, ring to it. I understand.

And I hope you understand that if that attitude ever found its way into the hiring arena in any demonstrative manner at all, the speaker of those thoughts would be subject to a huge, and deserved, lawsuit.

I want my kids to have their "eyes wide open" on their potential mate's pluses and minuses. But no one should be held back, or advanced, largely because of their spouse's deeds or lack thereof.

As for Susan's academic honors, I know nothing, either.

Look, there's no doubt Susan Bayh benefitted from her husband's position. Evan likewise benefitted from his father's name. But few folks hold onto these plum board memberships without doing good work.

Any my point was, regardless of all that: this story contains nothing new. It's as if ESP rose from the grave and once again demanded Bayh scalps, ala Quayle 1980. In that sad debacle, he was exacting revenge for Birch's rightful opposition to the water company resevoirs, which lined the pockets of several prominent Republican Indy families. (Instead of Water Co. ratepayers, which should have been the case) And we got a lousy senator who became vice president.

Ah yes...another "prodigy" who benefitted from the Lucky Sperm Club. And a newspaper that stopped at nothing to push one of its own.

If I were either of the Bayhs, I'd end this drip-drip-drip Chinese water torture, and find other work. On the other hand, you could make a pretty good argument that the anti-Bayh folks will still push the same story. The damage is probably done.

And Evan will win next year with at least 55% of the vote, maybe much more. Mostly, I'm hoping, because he represents us pretty well.

Not always great, but pretty well. With or without a smart attractive wife.

2009-07-28 10:28:13

John M [unverified] said:

I understand lawsuits pretty well, TTT, and I hope you understand that the personal advice that I might give my children has nothing to do with any hiring decision I might make. Indeed, I wouldn't know and would be prohibited from asking the marital status of any applicant. By no means do I mean to suggest that a woman's career should be subsurvient to her husband's. Far from it. Still, I don't think it's possible to give both careers in a marriage 100 percent equal treatment. It's just not. A family faced with a spouse in a transfer-or-resign situation has to make a decision. And things get particularly dicey when the two spouses are in the same field or related fields. By no means am I suggesting that one sex or the other should "win."

2009-07-28 11:31:36

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Understood, John. Completely. I don't suggest "100% equal treatment." How about a better baraometer--independent treatment? Each spouse being judged on his/her merits.

But any hiring questions, regarding spouse, are potentially mine fields. Why even "go there" ?

Any job decision, such as transfer/resign or anything else, should be based entirely on the applicant's merits. At no time should the spouse's status weigh in.

I realize that's "ideal world." But we're a lot closer to that reality than we were in 1985, when Mrs.Bayh's initial job decisions were made.

Then, this was a real clubby town. In many ways, Evan's ascendency into the corridors of power, helped change some of that attitude. Because the power structure got a little shaken up with his rise.

That, and two-plus decades.

2009-07-28 14:32:31

whitebeard [unverified] said:

Okay, here's the deal: lay off my gal Ruth! She's a truth teller with great heart and great soul.

I'd wager a day's pay that her headline for this blog posting was inspired by the new U.S. senator of Minnesota's book title: "Rush Limbaugh is a Big, Fat, Idiot."

I don't get it that I am supposed to shed crocodile tears over the predicament Susan Bayh is in.

I shed tears over the people who are going bankrupt because their family members are dying of cancer - their bankruptcy due to the inhumane and insane health insurance realities in this country.

Read what Evan is saying about changing health care. His opinions are right in line with those "blue dog Democrats" (translated: Republocrats).

Susan Bayh and Evan Bayh....if you are reading this: I'm two days late on getting a run-out prescription re-filled because I am out of money and I have a long list of prescribed medical tests I cannot afford to get done.

Maybe you guys can toss a few of those corporate board dollars my way?

Just kidding. I don't accept money made unethically and immorally.

2009-07-28 17:18:28

John M [unverified] said:

Whitebeard, you almost certainly are correct about the title. I missed the reference.

TTT, in the Bayhs' situation, it's not up to the employer to make the decision. I'm not suggesting that any employer, at any level, ask any questions about the spouse's employment, or even the spouse's existence. It's primarily the responsibility of the couple to make decisions on such conflicts, not prospective employers. The same is true of transfers. I'm not suggesting it's any of the employer's business. But imagine a couple where the husband is a partner at a large law firm with an Indiana-based practice. They have school-aged kids. The wife is an executive at Lilly. Wife's employer tells her that they are restructuring, and she either has to take a two year overseas assignment or will be phased out. Even in a case where there is no professional conflict, one of the spouses is going to have to make a professional sacrifice.

Treating spouses as completely unaffiliated entities isn't "ideal world" stuff, it's false. Being a governor and a senator has a lot of perks, but getting fabulously wealthy while in office generally isn't one of them. Joe Biden used to take the train in from Delaware. Many senators and representatives room with each other in modest DC townhouses. That's not how the Evan rolls. He lives the lifestyle he lives because of the money his wife earns, and a big chunk of that money has been earned from companies that would love to see the Senator buck his party on health care reform. I'm not jumping to the conclusion that this is a completely corrupt arrangement, but it's at least worth discussion.

2009-07-29 07:50:02

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