Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 14, 2011

EVAN BAYH'S DEPRESSING POST-SENATE CAREER.... About a year ago, to the great disappointment of his Democratic colleagues, Evan Bayh announced he wouldn't seek re-election. He even wrote a lengthy New York Times op-ed about his decision, decrying "strident partisanship" and "unyielding ideology."

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."

Fox News officially announced on Monday afternoon that former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh is becoming a contributor to the network.

Michael Clemente, the network's senior vice president for news, announced the move in a statement. He said that "Senator Bayh's decades of experience in the political arena and his participation in key decisions in Washington will lend a valuable point of view to the entire Fox News lineup."

"I'm pleased to offer analysis of public policy and politics to the millions of Americans who get their news from Fox," Bayh said in the statement.

Howard Kurtz said it's "good" for Fox News to hire "a prominent Democrat." But that's fundamentally at odds with what's transpiring here -- Fox News hires Democrats who can be reliably counted on to say unpleasant things about Democrats. Why do you think Doug Schoen is on Fox News all the time? Because of his charming smile or because he's the "Democrat" who hates Democrats?

Also note, this won't be Bayh's full-time gig. As Matt Yglesias reminds us, when he's not pontificating for the Republican news network, he'll be a D.C. lobbyist.

I guess Bayh's efforts to find a post-Senate career that's "worthwhile for society" were tougher than expected? That or just wanted the cash.

Either way, it's a reminder that Evan Bayh capacity to disappoint isn't limited to his career on the Hill.

Steve Benen 4:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (19)

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this is not a matter of disappointment; for it to be disappointing would mean that there was a reason to have a higher expectation of evan bayh.

i've noted for a long time now there are 3 parties: the right wing thugs who populate the gop, the conservative republicans who are scared of the thugs who hide out in the democratic party, and the actual democrats.

bayh, of course, was part of the second category, which is to say he simultaneously has the wrong perspective on the issues and is gutless.

which is now being proven out.

Posted by: howard on March 14, 2011 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Well, it's a break from Harold Ford as the cable news token non-Democrat Democrat.

Posted by: K in VA on March 14, 2011 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Calm down, Steve. As a 20-year Indiana resident, my take is that Bayh is an idealist, who just isn't prone to say outrageous things. I'm sure that Fox approached him, not the other way around, and they appealed to his ego, not his wallet. It's more likely that thinks that he has a better chance of getting other viewpoints aired on Fox than other left-leaning politicians. I'm thinking that Bayh will make some bland commentaries, become disappointed, and get marginalized by the network. It will likely be a fairly short relationship.

Posted by: Mike on March 14, 2011 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Fox has successfully created an alternative reality for millions of people. Their distorted view of the world, and more specifically the Democratic party, will be validated/confirmed by this shameless asshole.

Bayh will portray himself as the loyal Democrat who bemoans the party's drift(toward communism/socialism/Kenyan anti-colonialism) under Obama.

Posted by: Holmes on March 14, 2011 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

He was never a "prominent" Dem, but just someone who was accessible to the media. Never a major legislator. His prominence was mostly because of his Daddy's surname and his being a "moderate". This is a completely predictable result.

Posted by: Rich on March 14, 2011 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Not very surprising. I recently saw him and his wife on ABC News being interviewed by Diane Sawyer, the evening of earthquake striking Christchurch, New Zealand. The former Senator was lecturing at some University and his wife was touring in the Square by Christchurch Cathedral when its tower collapsed during the earthquake. He came across as pompous and irritating, especially, when he interrupted his wife, and took control of the remaining segment of the interview.

Posted by: John on March 14, 2011 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

The primary function of these "Democratic" commentators on Fox is to convince its audience that the Democratic Party is in the thrall of a bunch of left wing, Black Panther anarcho-socialists who have alienated sensible centrists such as themselves who are just trying to stand up for the little guys in this country, like Exxon-Mobile and Citibank. Second, this myth perpetuates the idea that the (Michelle) Buchanan/Palin/Hannity wing of the Republican Party isn't batshit insane, but just a reasoned response to the radicalism we're seeing on the left in this country, with its union thugs, NPR propaganda, and illegal immigrant voter conspiracies -- not to mention the Kenyan Muslim death-panelling socialist at the head of it all.

I can't wait to hear how Evan Bayh explains (as Juan Williams nods in agreement) that "even a Democrat like myself" can understand the need to eliminate collective bargaining for teachers.

Posted by: jonas on March 14, 2011 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Well, it's a break from Harold Ford as the cable news token non-Democrat Democrat.

I'm thinking Ford will probably remain as the cable news token Black non-Democrat Democrat.

Posted by: chi res on March 14, 2011 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Seems no one explained that FOX News, unlike it's namesake, is neither clever nor actual news.

What an asshole.

Posted by: Rochester on March 14, 2011 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Sleaze ball. Completely in character. Just like a deficit peacock.

Posted by: SW on March 14, 2011 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, I'm a Democrat that dislikes a lot of liberals but I wouldn't go on TV and waste valuable time trashing them.

Posted by: Alli on March 14, 2011 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Bayh is and has always been pathetic. What does it say for you when Fox News is the only place that values your commentary?

Posted by: Barbara on March 14, 2011 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Mike from Indiana could be right as a long time Indiana resident who has observed Evan Bayh closer than most of us I suppose, hope so. My observation of Bayh is less charitable. He strikes me as a soft spoken, arrogant phony and I believe his final months in the U.S. Senate back me up. Love to be wrong but even the soft spoken part seems like affectation to me.

Posted by: Kathryn on March 14, 2011 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

A pathetic self serving greedy politician now just another strong voice of hypocrisy. He'll be glad to help continue the rampant misinformation from FOX for all the millions of misinformed and mislead Americans who get their news from FOX as he continues to lobby for self interests.

Posted by: bjobotts on March 14, 2011 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Mike from Indiana is full of brown, smelly stuff!

Evan Bayh has always been a self serving @sshole. The lobbying and the gig on Faux News where his role will be as another democrat hating democrat should have been expected.

His totally unqualified wife got jobs as a corporate lawyer at Lilly when he was governor and on multiple boards of directors after he became a senator. Now that he is not a voting corporate toady, he wife is going to start losing those jobs.

Gotta replace that $1.2 million a year somewhere!

Posted by: AngryOldVet on March 14, 2011 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

What did Birch Bayh do to spawn a ridiculous, wothless little PoS like Evan?

Posted by: TCinLA on March 14, 2011 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Absolutely no surprise.

Bayh showed over and over that FOX was his spiritual home. His announcement that he wasn't going to run again was done in such a way to make it harder for Dems to keep the seat - which was a final act of disloyalty by a self-absorbed ahole who screwed the party over and over again.

The most nauseating thing about this is that now his name will surface again as people periodically cover whatever idiocy he spouts on FOX. And mainstream mouthpieces will treat him as though he does actually speak for Dems, when most of us think he's a toad. It was nice having him disappear from the public stage and now he'll be back. Since I never watch FOX I won't hear him directly but I'll have to see headlines about him in the blogosphere, etc. He'll be another Palin - just seeing his name raises the blood pressure - another reason why they hired him.


Posted by: P2b on March 14, 2011 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Bayh said he had a few ideas in mind, including possibly teaching and/or philanthropic work. -- Steve Benen

Philanthropy begins at home. As Angry Old Vet points out @6:30 PM, his wife is likely to lose some of her cushy "jobs" (no work required, except facilitating access to the Senator husband) and the kitty will have to be replenished somehow. Fox Noose is as good a source of a few supplementary bucks as any, at least to tie him over that yawning year before he can become a full time lobbyist.

Posted by: exlibra on March 14, 2011 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Forget for a moment whether or not Bayh has legit Democratic credentials.

Is there any other major news organization that would hire as a commentator someone who simultaneously hires himself out as a lobbyist? Will Bayh ever speak against a client's interest? The conflict of interest is incredible and would not be tolerated by a legitimate news organization. It would appear that Fox has no ethical standards whatsoever.

Posted by: DRF on March 14, 2011 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK



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