I didn’t comment on the decision by Senator Evan Bayh to not seek a third term in Indiana yesterday because I have been trying to determine what it will mean. On his personal blog (Sobering Thoughts), Interim editor Paul Tuns says that making predictions eight months out in politics is a fools game, but it is hard to not predict a Republican pickup in Indiana, making gaining control of the Senate a little more likely although still a far-off dream. Bayh dropped out of the race two weeks after former senator Dan Coats announced he would seek the Republican nomination; Coats has a strong social conservative record whereas Bayh is often referred to as a “moderate” but he doesn’t quite act like one: in 40 scored votes, he voted with the National Right to Life Committee eight times and against 32. Recently, he has voted for pro-life measures that stopped funding the United Nations Population Fund and a Stupak-like amendment to the health care bill in the Senate, but twice voted for Obamacare with its anti-life provisions intact and has repeatedly voted to overturn the Mexico City Policy which prohibits funding for overseas groups that support/provide abortion.
The Washington Post’s Dan Balz says in this video report that the Bayh decision will weigh heavily on the choices that Democrats make on health care reform legislation over the next few months. He says it might lead the Democrats to reach across the aisle and offer more bipartisan solutions. I have a different take: freed of the necessity of facing the electorate, Bayh could become the face of a phony attempt to moderate the Obamacare position, take the slings and arrows for the team, and wait for his appointment from the president six months after hanging up his senate hat. This is cynical, but Bayh is a team player and he’ll go to bat for the Democrats while the White House can still offer him something — a judicial appointment, a cabinet post, an ambassadorship — as a payoff. While Bayh will likely be replaced by a pro-lifers, his impending retirement might lead to the passing of Obamacare.