Anyone who read my personal overview of the candidates who, thus far, appear to be the forerunners for the Democratic 08' nomination, know that I quite like Evan Bayh. Beyond the fact he is an Indiana Senator, and inherently possesses more electoral potential in the traditionally Republican states... I've also liked what I've seen of him over the last few years. I like the fact that he embodies value politics. He's a man, especially when challenged, who exudes principle, integrity, and consistency. He possesses a vision of intellectual subtely and honesty that has actually struck me as very sincere... and "very sincere" in the Democratic Party usually means being to the left of Denis Kucinich.
Here is a video link on C-Span for a Democratic meeting in Manchester New Hampshire at which he spoke:
The speech begins at about 12.15 minutes.
I have to to be honest. He doesn't immediately strike you as compelling. I imagine anyone who watches this link will think I'm nuts for entertaining his viability for running for President. But, in certain instances he is very impressive. The nuance and intelligence to his appreciation of problems, and suggestions for solutions slowly engages and enlightens if you have the attention span to keep listening. I like a lot of what he said about confronting Iraq's problems by combining the big, industrial economic intiatives with smaller, bottom up, economic stimulus. After all, it's the widely spread unemployment of young men in Iraq which underpins the social unrest there and creates fodder for extremists to exploit. It's an assessment that is in tune with my own about the failings of Bush's economic dochtrine generally. Trickle down economics is not the sole basis upon which you can expect any society to flourish. It needs to be combined with dexterious methods to train, re-train, raise community standards, and incentivize employment in those struggling communities.
I like this about him.
I'm watching this video as I write, and I was just about to say something negative about Bayh. An elderly supporter asked a question about what is the point of grass roots Democrats putting their heart and soul into winning elections, when, as she believes, the last two elections were stolen by George Bush. I was going to criticize Bayh, because he seemed to indulge the notion that the election of 04 was stolen... which is absolutely ridiculous. Bush won fair and square. But, to his credit, he forcefully asserted that he respectfully disagreed, and that it was incumbent upon Democrats to learn from past mistakes and present a positive vision for change. The time on this is around 30.00 if anyone wants to see it. It's moments like this that display Bayh's strength. His soft, but immovable stickability to matters of principle and common sense. It's stuff like this that defines him as a centrist, mainstream candidate.
To have any hopes of winning the election in 08 Democrats have to fight an internal battle. As a party we need to be defined less by fringe reactionary, bitter elements like Dean and Pelosi, and more by a moderate vision and emotional passion for how great a nation the US can be. Yes, sometimes I want to call Republican's names. Yes, sometimes I want people to scream out angrily against policies that I believe do the country and the wider world harm. But, this is not the best part of who any of us our... regardless of our political affiliations. It's Bush's strength, and the weakness of his policy staff. Bush's sincere determination to be positive, and respectful, ultimately, is what elevated him above some of the less savoury tactics of his own party, orchestrated in large part by his Senior Political Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff. It's what Clinton exuded in abundance. And, it's obviously something I see in Bayh.
Kerry avoided this internal battle by allowing himself to be so dramatically swayed by the ete's of popular opinion during the primary season. He gave arguments attacking the war while Dean surged, and arguments supporting it when Dean mis-spoke about Saddam Hussein. Someone has to fight this battle and win the respect of the party's base... if they are to go to the rest of the country and be considered mainstream.
There is a long way to go before I decide he's my guy. Bayh has human moments, much more so than Kerry, but he takes time to warm up, and in the interim appears forced. He speaks articulately, but very, very calm and quietly... which might not extrapolate into a BIG voice that will connect with the nation as a whole. He connects emotionally, but, without any real, big, refreshing ideas that I think a lot of us our searching for: Some real imaginition to solve our problems, domestically, and globally.
But, thus far, I must say.... looking very far ahead I know... Evan Bayh is definately my fave.
evan bayh, politics, iraq war, howard dean, george bush, election 2008