Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Quoting More Than I Should

Just to make sure people read it.

But Bayh did not return to Indiana to teach. He did not, as he said he was thinking of doing, join a foundation. Rather, he went to the massive law firm McGuire Woods. And who does McGuire Woods work for? “Principal clients served from our Washington office include national energy companies, foreign countries, international manufacturing companies, trade associations and local and national businesses,” reads the company’s Web site. He followed that up by signing on as a senior adviser to Apollo Management Group, a giant public-equity firm. And, finally, this week, he joined Fox News as a contributor. It’s as if he’s systematically ticking off every poison he identified in the body politic and rushing to dump more of it into the water supply.

The “corrosive system of campaign financing” that Bayh considered such a threat? He’s being paid by both McGuire Woods and Apollo Global Management to act as a corroding agent on their behalf. The “strident partisanship” and “unyielding ideology” he complained was ruining the Senate? At Fox News, he’ll be right there on set while it gets cooked up. His warning that “what is required from members of Congress and the public alike is a new spirit of devotion to the national welfare beyond party or self-interest” sounds, in retrospect, like a joke. Evan Bayh doing performance art as Evan Bayh. Exactly which of these new positions would Bayh say is against his self-interest, or in promotion of the general welfare?

I should say, for the record, that I got in touch with McGuire Woods to give Bayh an opportunity to comment, or offer an alternative interpretation of his career decisions. I didn’t hear from them, but I got a call back from a PR person at Fox News. “I’m going to decline the interview for Mr. Bayh,” the flack said. And I guess I’m not surprised: It’s one thing to take the positions Bayh took without much of a record on them. It’s a whole other to try to sustain them when his paychecks are being signed by people who profit from the very forces he lamented.

In our last interview, Bayh complained of the poor opinion the public had of him and his colleagues. “They look at us like we’re worse than used-car salesmen.” Yes. They do. And this is why.

Fortunately, Bayh is too lazy to be the worst person in the world, but if he'd had a bit more energy...