Evan Bayh’s retirement announcement blamed excessive partisan gridlock for his stepping down:
“Two weeks ago, the Senate voted down a bipartisan commission to deal with one of the greatest threats facing our nation: our exploding deficits and debt. The measure would have passed, but seven members who had endorsed the idea instead voted ‘no’ for short-term political reasons,” he said. “Just last week, a major piece of legislation to create jobs — the public’s top priority — fell apart amid complaints from both the left and right. All of this and much more has led me to believe that there are better ways to serve my fellow citizens, my beloved state and our nation than continued service in Congress.”
The shorter version of this is “Every Senator wasn’t willing to do exactly what I wanted, so I’m leaving because this is too hard.” But the subtext is that partisan gridlock frustrates Congress, particularly the Senate, from getting things done. If there only were some quirk in the Senate rules that added additional veto points, in many cases causing the gridlock of which Bayh speaks. I wonder what he had to say about those Senate rules:
Democratic leaders should be able to tell where Bayh is headed based on his vote on whether to move to a debate. The Indiana Democrat said Tuesday that he doesn’t see “much difference between process and policy at this particular juncture,” and that he’ll be “looking at those two things as one and the same.”
In other words, Bayh sees procedural votes that block a final vote as the same as the final vote, essentially installing an artificial 60-vote supermajority on the Senate.
But see, he’s retiring because he’s really concerned about partisan gridlock. Presumably while he contributes to it.
Senators who actually want to get something done in Washington are signing on to the effort to change the Senate rules. Those like Evan Bayh, who don’t, whimper and whine and leave.