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Venal Corporate Lickspittle of the Day


Evan Bayh. I mean, give Lanny Davis this: he never really pretends to be anything but a greasy hack. Bayh wants to be Lanny Davis while pompously patting himself on the back for his Commitment to Public Service.

This gets us to the heart of the fundamental disagreement I have with some people about evaluating Obama’s first term. Some people seem to think it’s a major debit that Obama couldn’t get a robust public option thorough a Senate in which Lanny Bayh was a representative median vote. Me, I’m amazed Reid and Obama were able to get people like Bayh to vote for anything.

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  • DrDick

    I am pretty sure that Bayh will vote for anything, if you pay him enough.

    • Scott Lemieux

      The problem is that constituencies like “people who lack decent health insurance” are never going to be the highest bidder. If he were desperate to hang onto his Senate seat you might have some real leverage, but when there’s a lot more money in lobbying for insurance interests…

      • Njorl

        Bayh was never beholden to the insurers. He was the providers’ servant. The ACA doesn’t hurt the providers much in the short term.

  • Jesse Levine

    Don’t forget his wife’s employment with, and holdings in, Wellpoint. To repeat, ad nauseum, my beef with Obama is not that he didn’t get a robust public option, it’s that he cut a backroom deal with the Wellpoints before the debate started, and then cut off any attempts by Congressional Dems to bring any public option into the debate.

    • Scott Lemieux

      IIRC, Paul Starr found that the “Obama took the public option off the table” story didn’t actually check out.

      But let’s say for the sake of argument that your version is correct. It’s only a basis for criticizing Obama if there was a real chance of getting 60 votes for a public option. I don’t know how anyone who paid even cursory attention to the process could think such a thing. I mean, Joe Lieberman was repudiating policies he had previously supported just to piss off liberals. He’s going to support a robust public option? That’s delusional. If Obama got anything in return for “giving up” on a policy that had a 0% chance of getting 60 votes, seems pretty canny to me.

      • IIRC, Paul Starr found that the “Obama took the public option off the table” story didn’t actually check out.

        I think you’re wright, Scott.

        The…ahem…usual suspect(s) are now minimizing this alleged “failure” in their list of horribles, after having it bat lead off for the past three years.

        Sort of like not ending the Iraq War, and not passing DADT repeal. Funny how that keeps happening.

      • Jesse Levine

        I would refer you to Ryan Grimm’s posts in Huffpo in April and May of 2010 for the political dynamics of the death of the public option. And cutting the backroom deal with the insurers before anything came out can hardly be considered “canny” when the insurers later tried to kill the whole thing. He got what he got because his first offer had the insurers playing with house money from the get go.

  • OK, I give up: how does taxing the sale of medical devices make it more likely that companies who sell medical devices in the United States will move their manufacturing and R&D operations overseas?

    • NonyNony

      Because they will pick their balls up and take them overseas to punish the people of America for allowing this tax to stand.

      Don’t you understand joe? The mighty Capitalists give the peons of a nation jobs, and they can take them away if the peons get too uppity. They’ll go somewhere else where the peons know their place and would never rise up and do something horrible like oppress them with taxes.

      Someplace like China. They understand their place there and know that the mighty Capitalists are the Masters of the Universe and will do what they’re told. I mean, it isn’t like the Chinese have a history of rising up en masse to do something as horribly oppressive as a sales tax, is it?

      • I see. Rational profit-maximizing behavior.

        My bad.

        • Bill Murray

          it often doesn’t maximize profits in the short term. Profits don’t maximize until you bring things back to the US over the smoking remains of a union or two. Basically the Caterpillar way

  • calling all toasters

    Obama clearly foresaw that Bayh would be a threat to the ACA, which is why he worked out a deal where he pretends to consider Bayh for Veep in exchange for his vote.
    Wheels within wheels, my friends.

  • Snarki, child of Loki

    Evan Bayh, Willard, Dubya…

    Do we have enough data at this point to pass a constitutional amendment banning children of politicians from serving in office?

    In the case of the Bush family, anathematizing to the 5th generation might be appropriate.

    • Let’s not forget Andrew Cuomo.

      • Another Xerox-of-a-Xerox Kennedy is about to be elected to the House in SE Massachusetts. Sigh.

        • Murc

          If his votes are functionally equivalent to those of Teddy, I say bring him on.

          Cuomo, on the other hand, is only a Democrat because his daddy was.

          • I’m sure he’ll vote the liberal Democrat line just fine, but Teddy did a lot more than that.

            I don’t even know anything about the guy. I just don’t like that being a member of the Massachusetts Lucky Sperm Club means you can waltz into a House seat without even having to run in a primary.

            He didn’t even have a challenger – just some LaRouchite, I think.

            • Jim


              I’m not sure if it’s persuasive one way or another, though.

              • Another Halocene Human

                Joe has run JoeForOil for years, which helps get needy seniors heating oil so they don’t freeze to death during New England winters. That said, he was an utter douchebag to his first wife when they got divorced about wanting an annulment that would supposedly make him more electable with Catholics.

                I have an aunt who got an annulment. The real reason they split up was along the lines of ‘intentional infliction of emotional distress’ but since spousal abuse is NOT a valid reason for an annulment, they went with “we didn’t know what we were doing”. It was bullshit then and it’s bullshit now. Everybody knows you go to the friendly bishop, pay your fee, and you’re unmarried.

                I think due to multiple gerrymanders that Joe will be replacing Barney Frank in a sense so I think he’s all right as far as that goes. Don’t expect him to vote in favor of wind power, though. It might spoil the view from the Kennedy compound.

        • Anonymous

          Our long national nightmare of being deprived of a Kennedy in national politics is finally over!

    • Davis X. Machina

      Stack them wide, and stack them deep, and ‘John Quincy Adams’ alone still remains a sufficient case for the negative.

      • Warren Terra

        Though, isn’t our great respect for JQA founded on his post-Presidential political career, not on when he seemingly reached the heights of his potential?

        • NonyNony

          Yeah – my understanding is that all of the good things that JQA did were when he was in the House. As I recall, he was a pretty ‘meh’ President.

          • John

            He was also a great Secretary of State, in terms of raw, morality-neutral accomplishments, at least – the Rush-Bagot Agreement, the Convention of 1818, the Adams-Onis Treaty, and the Monroe Doctrine, all very important developments, occurred on his watch. The Monroe Doctrine, in particular, should probably really be called the Adams Doctrine.

          • StevenAttewell

            JQA was an unsuccessful president, but not a stupid or venal or incompetant one. He had a lot of ideas that were way ahead of their time, and couldn’t get any of them through Congress.

            However, that still puts him ahead of an Andrew Jackson (minus the force bill, as usual).

          • Anonymous

            Hey, maybe “W” should run for a house seat where he could work doggedly for good causes and resurrect his reputation?

            I wonder which part of that is most wrong – the idea of him working on good causes, the idea of him working hard, or the idea that he ever had a reputation to be resurrected.

            • Halloween Jack

              I’m not sure that W ever displayed an inability to work hard so much as a disinclination to do so when he didn’t see the benefit that would accrue to him. He made his political bones as an “enforcer” for his father’s presidential campaign; he kept track of who was on their side and who wasn’t in the media, and settled scores, something that he was uncommonly good at (and which he displayed in his own presidential campaigns). His willingness to put in the campaigning work, and relative lack of interest in the real heavy lifting of government, makes him similar to Reagan. (It’s telling that some members of the right-wing noise machine are trying to pin the same on Obama, re: the daily intelligence briefings, although they leave out the bit where he reads them himself instead of having someone read them to him.)

              • Another Halocene Human

                Imagine, a President who has achieved an 8th grade reading level.

                What wonders we shall accomplish now!

                Brings a tear to my eye.

              • Hogan

                And, as far as we know, has never responded to such a briefing by saying, “OK, you’ve covered your ass.”

      • rea

        Al Gore.

        And let’s not forget a certain Republican president’s distant cousin/nephew-in-law . . .

      • John

        Charles Francis Adams, probably too. The Adams family was smart for four generations.

        Outside the Adamses and Gore, there’s certainly other examples. George H. W. Bush, whatever you think of his politics or his disgusting 1988 campaign, was a talented administrator and diplomat, and did a very good job at foreign policy during his presidency (his father was a Senator, so I assume he counts). Both William Howard Taft (whose father was a cabinet secretary under Grant) and Robert Taft were talented men. Howard Baker was a pretty good senator (his father was a congressman). Sebelius seems to be a pretty talented politician. Nancy Pelosi’s father was mayor of Baltimore.

        • Isn’t this at least giving a nod to the “great man” theory of history?

          Do we have to suppose that absent these 2nd and beyond generation politicos there ware no other persons in the nation who could have handled these jobs competently?

          If so, then the elite really should be the elite, just like god planned.


          • Another Halocene Human

            Sounds like going with scions is a roll of the dice, just like it was with the monarchy system. In the early days a council of elders would weed out the sucky potential potentates but over time their influence was eliminated. In the degenerate phase (Tudor England, Ptolomeic Egypt) the princelings eliminate each other.

            Today we have the good old military coup when dictators go wild. Not really the best track record, though.

            I wish people would be a bit more skeptical of these children of elites. It’s tough, though–they already have friends in high places. The media today is all favored sons and daughters so why would they question one of their own flock?

    • Richard

      Then you also have to bar Al Gore.

      • Another Halocene Human

        Gore, like Pappy Bush and BHO, made better than their dads. So there’s that.

  • hylen

    “Public service” LOL

    I love that description of it.

  • Thlayli

    My stock line about the ACA:

    You make laws with the Congress you have, not the Congress you wish you had.

  • mb

    Seems to me the underlying problem is the Democratic Party doesn’t have much infrastructure. Yeah, they looked pretty good in Charlotte, but they’re flying high right now pretty much by default as the rightwing has commenced a really entertaining suicidal spiral.

    The primary reason that I almost didn’t support Obama in the 08 primaries was HIS failure to support the nominee of HIS party in Connecticut, Ned Lamont. Not because Lamont was some kind of progressive savior, but because the DEMOCRACTIC voters of the DEMOCRATIC party DEMOCRATICALLY nominated him.

    And we know how well it worked out to support Lieberman who went on to endorse McCain in 08.

    That whole sorry saga is, imho, pretty emblematic of what’s wrong with the Democratic Party and, by extension, why we can’t have nice things.

    • Huh?

      “Ned Lamont has waged an impressive grass-roots campaign to give the people of Connecticut a choice in the November Senate election,” Obama wrote. “Please join me in supporting Ned Lamont with your hard work on-the-ground in these closing weeks of the campaign.”

      The Lamont campaign said Obama’s e-mail went to about 5,000 Connecticut residents.

      Lamont aides said they welcomed the support of Obama, who has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent weeks as speculation about his national ambitions mounts. Obama has also given $5,000 to Lamont’s campaign through a political committee.

      • Scott Lemieux

        This “misunderstanding” seems almost as durable as myths about the 2000 debates.

    • I do agree with you one thing: holding it against Barack Obama for not endorsing Ned Lamont, after he did, is emblematic of what is wrong with the Democratic Party.

      • Warren Terra

        Oh, snap.

        But, Joe, do you really thing your facts and logic can defeat mb’s REPEATED use of CAPITALIZATION?

      • NonyNony

        holding it against Barack Obama for not endorsing Ned Lamont, after he did, is emblematic of what is wrong with the Democratic Party.

        ka. zing.

        • mb

          I guess y’all are going to just have to excuse me for not paying close enough attention to the CT race to notice that Obama got on board at pretty much the last minute — actually about 2 weeks before the election. Earlier in the year, as indicated in the article that is linked above that so snapped and ka zinged me, he was speaking for Lieberman (that was when I took notice) as were other so-called Democrats. I remain appalled by the Lamont situation and the failure of the Dems in DC, Obama among them in spite of his last minute CYA move, to value the will of voters above that of their buddy — who turned out to be a viper.

          Glad I gave you all such a thrill, though.

          • Hogan

            Earlier in the year, as indicated in the article that is linked above that so snapped and ka zinged me, he was speaking for Lieberman

            You mean before the primary, when Lamont was not in fact the DEMOCRATICALLY selected nominee of the DEMOCRATIC voters in the DEMOCRATIC party?

          • I guess y’all are going to just have to excuse me for not paying close enough attention to the CT race

            Wait a second: this is something that was so important to you in the 2008 primaries that, according to you, it made up your mind about how to vote.

            Six years after the fact, you bring this episode up out of the blue, on your own, as something you’ve clearly treated as important to your opinion of the Democratic Party and Barack Obama.

            I remain appalled by the Lamont situation and the failure of the Dems in DC, Obama among them in spite of his last minute CYA move, to value the will of voters above that of their buddy…

            What are you talking about? In the primaries, before the voters had ever cast a single vote for Ned Lamont, these “so-called Democrats” endorsed the incumbent Democrat, who had repeatedly won the nomination from Democratic voters, and then won election from the voters of Connecticut. Then, when the Democratic voters picked Lamont, they went so far as to switch their endorsement away from their “buddy” because that was the will of the Democratic voters.

            • laura

              There’s also the issue that endorsements barely matter. Obama’s endorsement of his senate colleague wasn’t going to help Lieberman win the Democratic primary in CT, and his endorsement of Lamont wasn’t going to help Lamont win a three way general. They were small symbolic gestures (and in both cases were the correct one imo.) If you’re going to be angry at Obama, be angry over things that actually matter.

  • david mizner

    I doubt it ‘gets to the heart’ of the disagreement since few Obama critics, and none of the smart ones, say his failure to get a PO is among his biggest failings. Generally — and almost by definition — his greatest failings were in areas where he had much more control, national security and housing, for example.

    I think his greatest legislative failing (bills that were actually passed) is probably Dodd-Frank, which is weak tea, and which he actively sought to make weaker.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Critiques about health care reform, I mean.

      • I don’t think you should have given him that much.

        The failure to get a public option was, indeed, the top-tier progressive complaint about the Obama presidency for years.

        There are some awesome comments in this thread.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Oh, to be clear, I’m certainly not saying that the ACA hasn’t been near the top of the list leftier-than-thou critiques of Obama, and that to deny this is the purest revisionism. I was just only talking about that particular critique.

  • c u n d gulag

    I think Bayh left the Senate, because not even Lieberman and Nelson could stand him anymore.

    When you lose the IINO and DINO squishes…

  • laura

    Those disclaimers are lethal.

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