Friday, February 02, 2007

Evan Bayh - A moderate, hawkish veep?

Since Evan Bayh has dropped out of the 2008 Presidential race, there has been quite a buzz about his prospects as a potential Veep candidate. There is often talk of his formidable fundraising capabilities. For example, this The Hill article points out that he had managed to raise over $10 million on his aborted Presidential bid. The article quotes former FEC chair Michael Toner as saying “Bayh could be exactly the kind of vice presidential candidate who could be most valuable in 2008 because of his established fundraising abilities.” The Indiana-based South Bend Tribune, commenting about a possible Clinton-Bayh ticket remarked about his “solid campaign organization” and his $10 million dollar war chest.

Almost every time his name is mentioned, the myth about Bayh being politically moderate is repeated. The above cited Hill article quotes former DNC chair Joe Andrew putting it this way: “He was always a top-tier candidate and he should be for reasons of message and his moderate stance.” A recent Human Events article opining about a Hillary running mate states “Add a moderate running mate like Sen. Evan Bayh (D.-Ind.) and Indiana could be up for grabs, too.”

What fuels this myth about a moderate Evan Bayh? A New Yorker article suggests that it his hawkish position on the use of military force, describing Bayh as “a semi-obscure, non-dazzling senator whose positions, in particular on the Iraq war, have been fairly hawkish.”

I set out to determine if there was any merit to the myth that Evan Bayh is “hawkish”. As usual, I used his voting record in the US Senate as reported by There is often in politics a disconnect between perception and reality. When it comes to legislators the only thing that really counts (in my opinion) is their voting record. If Bayh really is hawkish, it should show up in his voting record on military issues, right? has categorized all the key votes of the Senate into categories (such as military issues, immigration issues, etc). So I looked at his 2006 voting record in the following categories to see if any pattern emerged: Military, National Security, and Immigration.


There were 7 key Senate votes on military issues. In all but one case, Bayh voted with the majority of Senate Democrats. There is certainly nothing here that makes Evan stand out from the crowd. Here is a quick run down of those 7 votes

Habeas Review Amendment
Only one Democrat (Ben Nelson – NE) sided with Republicans against an amendment that would have allowed terror suspects to file habeas corpus petitions in court. Bayh voted with all the remaining Democrats supporting the rights of suspected terrorists.

Military Commissions Amendment
This amendment would have prohibited the establishment of new military commissions after December 31, 2011. No Democrat voted against this amendment. Fortunately, the Republican majority passed this legislation retaining the President’s power to establish such commissions, which have been used by Presidents since Revolutionary War days.

Oversight of CIA Interrogation and Detention Amendment
This amendment would have required the Director of the CIA to report to the congressional intelligence committees every three months on detention, interrogation and rendition programs. Again, not a single Democrat (not even Evan Bayh) voted against this silly amendment.

Military Commissions Act of 2006
The Act's stated purpose is to "facilitate bringing to justice terrorists and other unlawful enemy combatants through full and fair trials by military commissions, and for other purposes." There were 12 Democrats that voted for the passage of this important legislation. Evan Bayh was NOT among them.

Cluster Munitions Amendment
This amendment would have prohibited any funding from going to cluster munitions, unless it is clearly specified that such munitions will not be allowed near civilian populations. There were 15 Democrats that voted against this amendment. Here is the single instance of Bayh breaking with the majority of Democrats on military issues and voting with Republicans to defeat this amendment.

Troop Redeployment Amendment
This amendment would have required the President to withdraw troops from Iraq by July 1, 2007. Only 12 Senators, all Democrats, voted in support of this amendment. Bayh was not among these left-wing whackos. Does that make him hawkish?

Military Funding and Tax Cuts Amendment
Vote on a motion to waive the budget act in order to adopt an amendment that appropriates $47.27 billion to the military and repeals the extension of tax cuts for capital gains and dividends to 2010 back to 2008. Only one Democrat voted against this crazy scheme – the hawkish Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

Okay, so we clearly see that there is nothing in his voting record on military issues during the course of 2006 to distinguishes Evan Bayh as a hawk. Lets move on to national security issues. Perhaps there we can find a more moderate, more hawkish voting record there.

NATIONAL SECURITY lists 7 key votes on national security issues in 2006. Again, Bayh voted with the majority of Democrats in 6 of these 7 votes. Lets take a look at them.

Security of Cargo Containers Amendment
An amendment that requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop a plan for guaranteeing 100 percent of all cargo containers that pass through U.S. ports are scanned. Only 2 Democrats (Ben Nelson-NE and Mary Landrieu-LA) joined Republicans to defeat this amendment.

National Security Amendment
Vote on a motion to waive the Budget Act in order to adopt the recommendations of the 911-Commission Report. This time 3 Democrats (Ben Nelson-NE, Bill Nelson-FL, Mark Pryor-AR) joined Republicans to defeat this amendment.

Rail and Transit Security Amendment
A motion to waive the Budget Act in order to spend $1.1 billion for transit security programs including research and development of bomb detection technology. Two Democrats (Ben Nelson-NE, Kent Conrad-ND) joined Republicans to defeat this bill.

USEMA Amendment
Vote to adopt an amendment that creates the United States Emergency Management Authority under the Department of Homeland Security to replace the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This bill was adopted with only 10 Senators opposing it, 8 of whom were Democrats, none of whom were Evan Bayh.

FEMA Amendment
An amendment that designates FEMA as independent and separate from the Department of Homeland Security and authorizes the President to appoint the director of FEMA. This is the one vote in the National Security arena where Evan Bayh broke with the majority of his party. He joined with 13 other Democrats and voted to keep FEMA within the Department of Homeland Security. Was this hawkish? Does this vote distinguish Evan Bayh as a moderate?

USA PATRIOT and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization
Vote to adopt a conference report that extends the authority of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to conduct “roving wiretaps” and access certain business records through December 31, 2009, and makes the remaining 14 provisions of the Patriot Act permanent. Only 9 Democrats voted against the Patriot Act, Bayh was not one of them.

USA PATRIOT and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization
Vote to invoke cloture on the Patriot Act conference report so it could be voted upon. All Senate Democrats voted against cloture, including Bayh.

The only time Bayh broke with his party on National Security issues was on the FEMA Amendment. Here the idea was to remove FEMA from the Department of Homeland security. Some think it would function more effectively as an independent agency, others do not. In the end, it was left where it was and simply renamed the United States Emergency Management Authority. Anyhow, I fail to see how this one break with the Democratic Leadership distinguishes Bayh in any way. But there is still hope. There was one other topic that is related to national security that might show off Evan Bayh’s hawkish tendencies – Immigration.


2006 was a busy year for immigration reform. lists 12 key immigration-related votes. Many people consider immigration reform to be intimately related to national security, so it’s worth looking to see just how hawkish Bayh’s voting record might be on immigration reform. Well, the news is not good for folks that consider Bayh to be a moderate – Bayh voted with the majority of Democrats in each of the 12 immigration reform bills to pass through the Senate in 2006. I won’t bore you with the details of each, you can check them out for yourself at if you are really interested.


It’s hard to imagine why anyone who happens to vote the same as the majority of other Democrats is perceived as a moderate (much less a hawk), unless you happen to think that the way most Democrats vote is moderate. Ahh… maybe now we are getting somewhere. If you happen to think that Democrats are, in general, moderates and Republicans are, by and large, extremists, then you might naturally think that anyone that simply follows the herd the way Evan Bayh does and votes with the majority of Senate Democrats almost every single time is a moderate. Now I get it.

No comments: