A favorite Evan Bayh story

Dateline: Mon 04 Jan 2010

Sen. Evan Bayh has gotten beat up bad in the letters to the editor section of the Star, which is only the tip of the iceberg. While many conservative Hoosiers are unhappy that our handsome boy-man Senator voted FOR health care, at the last nanosecond, many Dems and liberals are convinced that the Dem is only a paper politician who can't take a principled stand -- and stick with it.

DemocraticUnderground.com recently nailed Bayh, using his own email as evidence -- and yes, I know this is old news, but stick with me to get to the story....

"As the debate unfolds, I support fiscally sound reform built on our current health care system that aims to provide Americans with affordable health care."

-- Senator Bayh

"Talk about careful wording, this is a complete non-statement other than to ensure that he doesn't have to do anything. I remind our readers that Bayh is in the pocket of corporations like Lilly, Wellpoint, and Anthem," said the DU blogger.

That's tame -- in comments he is then called him out as "a whore for Lilly" and a "rat b-----" -- really, not much different from the letters to the editor, assailing him for being TOO LIBERAL.

All I can add is that Bayh is famous for beating around the bush, mastering talking points instead of engaging in dialogue and in general being, well, polished, even unctious.

Hence this story, told by a friend who formerly worked for the Bayhs when Bayh was governor of Indiana. (My source is anonymous in case he's looking for a job...who isn't?)

"I had just fnished (my work) and went outside the governor's mansion to have a smoke...Bayh followed me out.."

Bayh expressed his appreciation for my friend's skills, then wanted to talk. 'I'd really like to know,' Bayh said, 'what your issues are. What is important to you?"

Now, that's admirable, but the working guy demurred.

"No, really," insisted Bayh. "Tell me what you'd like to see accomplished. What is it that you'd like to see change?"

"Do you really want the truth?" asked my friend.

Yes, said the earnest governor.

"I'd like to see marijuana made legal," was the answer, spoken with utmost sincerity.

Bayh looked at the man -- he may well have blanched, but it was dark -- then he turned on his heel and walked doubletime back into the mansion at 46th and Meridian.

Too bad. It was a chance to win a voter for life....but then why speak the truth, if you're in politics and your whole life is fudging?







Whitebeard [unverified] said:

I was a strong supporter of his Dad, but I am one of the biggest Evan Bayh critics in the world.

However....this story shared about the pot-loving Bayh employee doesn't add to my long list of reasons to dislike Evan the Political Robot.

A governor asks an employee what is the major issue that is on his heart and mind and the employee responds "legalizing pot."

Well, let's see. At that time, Bayh was closing most of the mental institutions (not offering viable options for improvement of these institutions) which resulted in hundreds of very severely mentally ill people becoming homeless street people.

A veteran Indianapolis psychiatrist who was treating a member of my family at that time told me that what Bayh did was absolutely unconscionable and resulted in great suffering on the part of mentally Ill people.

Evan was also ignoring the working poor and their efforts to merely survive.

He was "holding the line on taxes" no matter how much human suffering this created among the poor and afflicted in the State of Indiana.

I could go on and on....

So, I think Reefer Madness would have been a pretty bizarre issue for that employee of Bayh to be promoting as his primary concern for change.

I would have responded similarly to how Bayh responded in that instance. In fact, I would have likely sent him packing on the spot.

2010-01-05 00:17:49

AnotherFmrReporter [unverified] said:

The senior Bayh couldn't or wouldn't answer a simple question. At on presser many years ago, he was asked the same question several times, and never gave a straight answer.

2010-01-05 10:13:56

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

OK, here goes my regular (and perhaps tired) defense of our junior senator:

Disclaimer: he's a friend. Good friend.

Further disclaimer: we have clashed often in the past, on issues ranging from the death penalty, education, and mental health funding. I push him hardest when I strongly suspect his personal views differ from the public stance he takes (hint: death penalty).


He is a leader on many issues. He grasps the budget deficit more than most, and how it's choking our children and grandchildren.

He understood, before any other legislator, the miserable manner in which Bush sent our troops into battle in Iraq. Without proper gear. His answer, to be sure, benefitted a Hoosier company, makers of the Hummer. But he advocated extra armour right out of the shoot, and he was railed on for doing so.

He pushed for pay increases for Nat. Guard and active-duty military personnel before any other legislator.

Does he stick his finger in the wind too much? Yeah.

Does his family benefit too much from Susan's near-million-dollar performance on health care boards? Damn straight.

Here's where your friend's story starts to fall apart tho: I know for a fact that smoking was disallowed anywhere on the mansion grounds. The rest of the story may be correct.

But I'm weary of "insider Evan" stories which run the gammit--from ridiculous to scandalous. I was as close as most, closer than many, not quite as close as some--and much of the gossip I've heard is untrue and ridiculous.

I aggressively engaged him on multiple issues, and when he'd had enough, even from an old friend, he'd politely ask if we could "change the subject."

And give him some credit--he grew up in a home where the dinner guest was likely to be Hubert Humphrey, or U Thant or Charles DeGaulle. Seriously.
His upbringing was more formal than mine, by a long damned shot. To relax, I often joke, Evan loosens the laces on his wingtips while he watches football.

He is still the man who single-handedly revitalized the two-party system in this state. And it was badly in need of a revitalization: Republicans had damned near raped this state for three decades. Brazenly and boldly, without fear of retribution.

I wish he were more idealogically pure. Hell, I wish I were, too.

I am very proud to call him a friend, and prouder that he is my senator.

2010-01-05 12:12:01

Whitebeard [unverified] said:


Respect to you for the loyalty to your friend, Evan Bayh. He is blessed to have you as a friend.

I just don't get it about political positions differing from heartfelt personal beliefs. I know this is (sadly) all too common in the world of politics, but does that make it right? I don't think so.

I usually vote Democrat, but next time I'll leave that one blank - unless a Green Party or Socialist Party candidate is on the ballot for U.S. Senate from Indiana.

2010-01-06 02:02:13

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Good point, Whitebear.d

I felt the same way with Lugar, when he kept his mouth shut about Iraq. As chair of the Foreign Relations Cmte., he had tremendous national/international swagger. His opinion mattered.

I would bet my mortgage that he disagreed with the rogue Bush's policies. On multiple fronts. But he was silent. This war has divided our nation, cost hundreds of billions and was fought for fraudulent reasons. The lives lost....it's tragic.

I wish I knew our senior senator. He seems so intriguing, yet so fickle sometimes.

2010-01-06 05:55:47

George Stuteville [unverified] said:

Just a couple of points. First, Lugar NEVER kept his mouth shut about his frustration and fundamental disagreements with the Bush policies.

I say this with good authority from several people, including a couple of his staffers with whom I see or hear from. Lugar was not as influential in the Bush administration because his disdain for the Cheney-Rumsfeld-neocon worldview was hardly a secret. Though Lugar, uncharacteristically came out as an early Bush supporter, he rapidly became disenchanted with the man on several levels, primarily intellectual, because Lugar simply cannot abide fools.

Probably the most significant and public revelation of Lugar's opposition to Bush policies in the Mideast came from a remarkable June 25, 2007 speech that had quite a bit of traction within DC and the diplomatic quarter, though it never received the type of public notice it deserved. Here is a link to that speech:


As for Evan, I have long resolved myself to the belief that despite so much seeming promise, he will likely never find a real place in history because he is essentially a cautious man, rather than a courageous one. In a profile I wrote about him many, many years ago, I remember reading a biography of his mother, Marvella Bayh, in which several descriptions of loud raucous arguments exploded in their home in DC over Birch Bayh's political campaign debts and even his own aspirations. In my mind's eye, I can see Evan as a kid being buffeted by these winds. I do think that Evan provided the whole key to his character when he wrote in From Father to Son: A Private Life in the Public Eye, about his anger toward his mother when her cancer became too advanced and was used as a reason by Birch Bayh to end his own presidential run in 1972 (he tried it again in 1976 with a late and ill-funded campaign).

Anyway, Evan's castigation of his mother taught him this lesson: "Words once uttered—even when prompted by temporary emotion—are hard to ever fully take back. And sometimes life doesn’t give you a chance."

This, I think, describes the core of Evan Bayh, a fact that will preclude him from greatness.

...just my two cents

2010-01-06 09:24:26

Shorty Long [unverified] said:

Gee the story about Bayh is a lot like the great reporting you did for the Star before you got dropped kicked. We need more of your sensationalism and near imperfect reporting. Stay home and keep baking cookies honey.

2010-01-06 15:01:19

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Excellent pointn, George. Except:

Lugar never, ever used his immense foreign affairs good will, to move the US one inch away from the Bush-Cheney testosterone-driven dream. Not once. Quiet mumbling among your staff, or a esty article in a foreign policy journal, does not cut it udner such dire circumstances.

Damn it all, we went to WAR on false, even hopped-up, intelligence. And the president dared anyone to disboey his orders or his dreams. He trotted out the Reaganesque patriotism arguments. We chased our tails in a worthless exercise, and it cost us mightily.

His advice would've been heeded. I have a close relative in the Diplomatic Corps. Trust me, foreign capitals were looking to the Hamiltons and Lugars of the DC elite, to shout out. They got whimpers, at best.

Nobody had the foreign affairs chops DL had at the time. No one. So, he kept quiet, for six long years, three as foreign affairs chair, while Bush and Cheney carried out this foreign plicy madness.

Your Marvella observations brought a tear to my eye. Spot on. In fact, you've under-played it. Evan detests raised voices. In fact, he considers it unseemly and rude.

I share that view. If you have to raise your voice, inevitably, here's what happens:

You've got the original problem, which caused the shouting. Unsolved.

And you've got the added problem of ego bouncing all over the walls.

It should not, and perhaps will not, preclude any of us from greatness. If it does, so be it.

2010-01-06 15:05:02

George Stuteville [unverified] said:

TTT: Well, I do wish Lugar and Hamilton had been more forceful, too. I wish there had been someone with real gravity to have stopped or slowed that momentum. It has cost us mightily, yes. An irony is that Indiana's Governor Mitch Daniels, who was OMB chief at the time, estimated the cost at $50 to $60 billion. What's the price tag now...something on the order of $1.5 trillion, not to mention the incalculable human cost.

As for Evan Bayh, I found him fascinating on many levels. And talk about a family of egos...I always thought it was curious that the author of the ERA amendment forbade his own wife to work. Go figure.

These days, I do still try to follow what goes on with the Hoosier delegation.

2010-01-06 16:07:54

hendy [Member] said:

I'm with you, George. Save that it seems that all we can do is bitch about the problems, rather than proffer good and decent candidates.

Evan Bayh is an empty gutless suit, IMHO. Sorry, TTT, he's a big fat nothing Republican. I'll admire Lugar only in that he's tried to reduce nukalar prolifration (sic). There was Quayle (see the floor of my pickup truck for further opinions) and his predecessor.

DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON DANIELS. People never learn. We deserve this, I guess. What happened... all the altrusims I ws taught in school are dead.

2010-01-06 18:08:58

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

No, Hendy, go ahead and get started (smile).

That multi-millionaire, good ol' boy " 'cycle" driver with the fake Hoosier drawl, rolled up flannel shirt sleeves, blue jeans and calculating left-brained stare fixed on the White House.

D.C. can have him back again. He'd make it a bigger mess than it already is. But at least we Hoos-yers would be rid of him.

2010-01-07 00:48:07

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I don't know who told you Birch "forbad" Marvella from working, but it's flat wrong, George. It was his preference, but he didn't forbid anything. His "preferences" regarding Marvella were oft overlooked by her.

Whitebeard, you crack me up. That attitude is similar to Evansville's opinion regarding Bob Orr and his former wife, Josie. They were glad to be rid of him, but their loss was our loss, too.

Except for Indy liquor store owners.

2010-01-07 05:13:26

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