James Baker and Lee Hamilton aren’t the only “Realists” around Washington these days. It seems that there is now a caucus of pols taking a very pragmatic approach to the one issue they’re usually most inclined to follow their gut, not to mention ego, on: their own political ambitions.
First it was former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner in October. Warner, to be sure, explained that he was passing on a presidential bid because of family concerns. But Warner also realized that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-NY) candidacy would be daunting and, at 52, knows that he’s still got years ahead to get back “in the arena.”
Then, immediatly after the election, it was Sen. Russ Feingold’s (D-WI) turn. Feingold fessed up to the long odds, telling a homestate paper, “It would have required the craziest combination of things in the history of American politics to make it work.”
About a week later it was outgoing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) who, shall we say, saw the light. Or, as Frist put it, “God tells us for everything there is a season, and for me, for now, this season of being an elected official has come to a close.”
Now Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) has embraced the sort of realpolitik that would make Kissinger proud. Invoking another well-known line from Scripture, and offering the most candid statement yet of any of the almost-ran’s, the Hoosier said: “The odds were always going to be very long for a relatively unknown candidate like myself, a little bit like David and Goliath.”