A Democrat Who Does Want to Be President
Looking over Max Sawicky's list of Democratic Senators who, as he says, "will never be president," I note the absence of Senator Evan Bayh, an oft-mentioned moderate contender. I'm no expert on the Bayh record, and it's certainly far too early to start lining up behind particular candidates, but a person who can gain a reputation for moderation while still falling on the side of the angels when the chips are down is certainly the sort of person that has to be taken seriously. Meanwhile, I'd be fascinated to hear, say, Kent Conrad explain why it is that he needs to vote for this crap to stay viable in North Dakota but it's possible to survive in Indiana without doing so. Are farmers of the Northern Plains really crying out for someone -- anyone -- to increase their debt burdens? What would William Jennings Bryan do? Byron Dorgan, who's easily confused with his regional colleagues Conrad and Johnson, knows how to get things done in red America.
UPDATE: Actual data from Atrios. I'm actually very surprised Utah is the number one bankruptcy state. Normally whenever one tries to put together a list demonstrating that red America is the main locus of social dysfunction in the USA one can be fairly successful, but Utah normally turns out to be an outlier thanks to the Mormon rectitude, etc. But I guess they love their credit cards. I wasn't actually wondering about the Conrad/Dorgan split as much as I was just pointing it out. Dorgan is consistently a ballsier guy who tends to take more of a barnburning populist approach and less of a frightened moderate. His views aren't really mine, and I'm certainly no barnburning populist, but I think he offers the best viable model of progressive politics in that region. See also Brian Schweitzer in Montana and talk radio host Ed Schultz.
March 9, 2005 | Permalink
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Doesn't Bayh's clear resemblance to Putty from Seinfeld hurt him? And not just facial resemblance, since Bayh doesn't strike me as the sharpest knife in the drawer, either.
But he's certainly voting like a man who intends to be a Democratic presidential candidate.
Posted by: bobo brooks | Mar 9, 2005 10:15:57 AM
And, again, I think this makes it clear that Lierberman should not be the Democratic candidate for Senate in 2006. You can argue that any other Senator from LA or ND or DE would have voted the same way, but we don't need to put up with this in CT. And what's up with Kohl?
A good point about Bayh. But he has less charisma than Gore or Kerry. Ugh.
Posted by: The Butt | Mar 9, 2005 10:23:24 AM
Frankly, it makes no sense at all that any Democrat, presidential aspirant or not, would vote for this abomination of a bankruptcy bill. Red state triangulation aside, Mary Landrieu and the others should have been able to see that this, like Social Security, was a golden opportunity to draw a line between themselves and Republicans on core party values.
Likewise, it tortures credibility to suggest that Democrats actually considered this measure to be sound public policy. Again, are they Democrats or are they not? If Democrats will not protect citizens from corporate interests, which this bill epitomizes, then who will?
That might sound like a rhetorical question, but it isn't. Who on earth will do what Democrats do if Democrats won't? Until politicos and other party members answer those questions, then their stay in the wilderness will be a long one indeed.
I realize that Senators by definition must have immense egos, but would any Democratic Senator dare run for the next 2 to 3 Presidential cycles? The history is not good...
Posted by: Cranky Observer | Mar 9, 2005 10:52:55 AM
If anyone's interested, I was asked by one of my readers to do a profile on Bayh (as I'm based in Indiana). It's here. Voting record info included.
Looks more like Kevin Kline to me, but I can see a little Putty. Not that there's anything wrong with that - I'd vote for Putty.
Posted by: JP | Mar 9, 2005 10:55:01 AM
One thing credit card companies have ius money. Duh.
My family now has three adult West Coast members and four Midwest members, including one in N.D. Those of us who have moved to the West Coast have a distinctly different idea about consumer spending and credit. The ones still there are extremely frugal and reluctant to borrow. It's an unnoticed aspect of the culture wars, I think.
North Dakota is the America that conservatives pretend they want. Hard work, low crime, frugality, good schools, good health practices. Everyone's trying to escape, and no one will move there even though you can buy a livable home for $3,000 (three zeros)..
If Democrats will not protect citizens from corporate interests, which this bill epitomizes, then who will?
Too late, no one will - for now. You have to wait for the next great depression and the next FDR. But it may not be too long.
Posted by: abb1 | Mar 9, 2005 11:02:44 AM
Matt, a couple of things on bankruptcy:
Johnson's up in 2008. Conrad's up in 2006.
Dorgan isn't up until 2010, I think. (Same for Bayh). You can get the actual dates from www.senate.gov.
Bayh's not up until 2010 BUT he's a likely 2008 presidential candidate and he's going to want money.
Johnson faces pressure from Citibank (I think their South Falls customer processing center is big).
Conrad is a bigger mystery to me. My guess is that he's heavily dependent on PAC money.
OK, never mind, I just hit opensecrets.org and he actually is heavily dependent on PAC money, which accounted for about 62 percent of his fundraising last time around. Of that PAC money, about 77 percent came from business.
(For the heck of it, I checked out Johnson. Here are his top three donors: Lawyers/Law Firms $585,591; Securities & Investment $342,365;
Commercial Banks $237,477).
In places like North/South Dakota, it's not just the size of the donation, it's the relatively small political 'market,' which heightens the importance of your average 'big' donor.
Posted by: WH'ho | Mar 9, 2005 11:06:53 AM
Regarding Utah, my understanding is that there are several causes. The biggest one is that folks get married, have kids, and live independent of their parents (often buying houses) around age 22-23. Often folks have several kids by age 27 or so. It's pretty hard to support a family at that age.
I think the data is unclear as to the effect tithing have (I'd be welcome to correction here). Members of the LDS church typically tithe 11% of their incomes, but there's also a lot of social support (buying groceries for the laid-off neighbor) and some flexibility.
It's my understanding that Utah is annually tops in con-scheme victims, which I think has to do with the trusting nature of the local culture.
But, far and away I think think folks starting families so young is the primary factor.
Posted by: ptm | Mar 9, 2005 11:07:41 AM
"I think this makes it clear that Lierberman should not be the Democratic candidate for Senate in 2006. "
Yes, I have already faxed Lieberman several times in the past week that I will be contributing both time and money to the Joe Lieberman Retirement Fund.
Posted by: Blue Iris | Mar 9, 2005 11:10:28 AM
mysogynyA wife with a credit card is a dangerous thing. Utah. Polygamy. More danger./mysogyny
Posted by: mbna | Mar 9, 2005 11:18:29 AM
I know there's a Dump Joe email list, but is there any place I can donate actual $$$?
Posted by: praktike | Mar 9, 2005 11:19:23 AM
I'd vote for Birch's son, just as a matter of remembering the man who allowed so many of my peers to p*ss away their first vote ever on John "you do it with mirrors" Anderson.
More seriously, B. Bayh was always interested in doing the right thing--which is one of the reasons he didn't run when he should have. If the son is anything like the father--and he seems to be; thank you S's sister--then there is a viable Midwestern Democrat who could, at least, make a marvelous Vice President if Olympia Snowe switches parties for 2008.
I dislike Lieberman as much as the next Democrat, but don't we have bigger fish to fry? There could be as many as 20 close races in the next cycle, and we're not made out of money here.
Posted by: JP | Mar 9, 2005 11:22:03 AM
Connecticut has a huge banking/insurance/conglomarate industry.
Posted by: rich | Mar 9, 2005 11:28:49 AM
Why does anyone think Snowe will switch parties? She's the gd Senator from MBNA?
I seem to recall that there're a lot of credit card nasties operating in North Dakota. 'Least, that's where I shipped all my money back when I ran my credit cards too hight. That would explain Conrad.
Posted by: Borden Tarde | Mar 9, 2005 11:45:06 AM
That makes a lot of sense. Plus there's a real social pressure for education. Many mormons get post-graduate degrees (which I think has to do with the fact that men's educations are interrupted and tweaked by the two-year missions).
The more I think about it, the more it makes sense that mormons would use credit. The religion emphasizes optimism, after all...
Posted by: Jackmormon | Mar 9, 2005 12:02:41 PM
The problem w/ Bayh is that he's hellsof boring. But maybe people like that in the Midwest. I don't know.
Posted by: praktike | Mar 9, 2005 12:04:29 PM
I recall reading that the states with higher bankruptcy-filing rates also tend to have a higher number of drivers without car insurance. It's not hard to see the connection between the two.
"The more I think about it, the more it makes sense that mormons would use credit. The religion emphasizes optimism, after all..."
Doesn't it also emphsize frugal lifestyles?
But lots of children and stay-at-home moms, too. Maybe those have something to do with it.
Posted by: treetop | Mar 9, 2005 12:37:38 PM
North Dakota is the America that conservatives pretend they want. Hard work, low crime, frugality, good schools, good health practices. Everyone's trying to escape, and no one will move there even though you can buy a livable home for $3,000 (three zeros).
Then wouldn't it be perfect for a progressive version of that free-state project where libertarians decided en masse to move to New Hampshire? (which is sort of coals to Newcastle as far as that goes, but whatever ...)
Then again, it’s pretty damn cold up there.
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