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Opening Arguments

A moderate complaint

There is a lot of talk these days about Evan Bayh's "moderation" and "centrism," sure signs for those who forgot it that he is up for re-election next year:

Bayh's middle of the road approach is in character for the Indiana Democrat who has built a political career on being a voice of moderation.

[. . .]

In truth, however, it's was always clear that Bayh felt more comfortable in the middle of the road than driving himself into any ideological ditch.

Why is it that articles like these seldom bother to match Bayh's attempts to sound moderate with his actual voting record, which is about as liberal as it can be? That's not me saying it -- it's based on ratings by conservative and liberal groups who care about and track such things. He earned a lifetime score of 20 on the American Conservative Union rating scale (with 100 being the most conservative), and he got a D from the National Taxpayers Union and an F from the Gun Owners of America.  On the other hand, he gets a grade of 100 from NARAL Pro-Choice America, the AFL-CIO, the Children's Defense Fund and the National Education Association. He slipped a little with the Americans for Democratic Union and the ACLU, which gave him a 95 and 86 respectively. This site, which shows his vote on all major issues, describes him as a "populist-leaning liberal," which sounds about right.

This time around, Bayh is forming a group with 14 other senators who have begun to meet weekly "to discuss ways in which the moderate/centrist wing of the party could ensure its voice is better heard by the White House and Senate leadership," an ostentatious show of independence and a willingess to stand apart from the Obama administration. That's fine -- any opposition to all that spending and government growth is welcome from any quarter -- but it would be nice to see the rhetoric matched by actual action for a change. Not that that has seemed to matter to Indiana's conservative but inattentive voters.

In the meatime, both Bayh and Sen. Richard Lugar are heaping praise on President Obama's nomination of David Hamilton to the federal appeals court. Obama and most of his cheerleaders in the press are going on and on about Hamilton's "moderation" and record of "fair and judicicious" decisions, making no reference to all the conservative groups who are starting to call him things like "a liberal, pro-abortion, pro-defendant hack." In case you're having trouble following the moving target that is today's political jargon, "moderate" is becoming the new "liberal," or at least a way to say that so-and-so "is not a liberal so just shut up about that."


Thu, 03/19/2009 - 11:05am

Wow. Just like when "conservative" became the new word for Bible-thumpin' fuddy-duddy. And "moderate" became "RINO." How often does Webster's update this stuff?

tim zank
Thu, 03/19/2009 - 12:53pm

In this case (Bayh) moderate = holding ones finger in the wind to see which way the voters wind is blowing.

Leo Morris
Thu, 03/19/2009 - 1:57pm

Ah, Alex, the ever popular and always enlightening "So's your old man!" retort. Et tu, quoque?

tim zank
Thu, 03/19/2009 - 5:19pm

heh heh heh...


Steven T.
Thu, 03/19/2009 - 10:42pm

More to the point, Evan Bayh has always been a loose cannon, a left-wing embarrassment, and a legitimate threat in the view of all traditionally conservative Hoosiers. Bayh is an elected anomaly that is generally hoped won't do too much harm before he is replaced by a red-state senator who actually listens and represents his home constituency. Bayh's shameful opinion is that he was NOT sent to the U.S. Senate to represent his home state's point of view. Curse all such politicians for their twisted propaganda. And I say that in all temperate moderacy...... ;*)