The Corner

Moderates Can Do Funny Things

In Impromptus today, I write about John Ashcroft, the onetime attorney general, and Evan Bayh, the retiring senator from Indiana. (Not “retiring” as in “shy” and “self-abnegating.”) I write about the two men separately: but a reader has sent an e-mail pairing them. He reminds us that Bayh voted against the confirmation of Ashcroft, his former colleague, on the usual flimsy grounds (“extremist,” “scary,” “controversial,” blah, blah, blah). Bayh is known as a great Democratic moderate, you know.

I will further say that Bayh voted against the confirmation of George W. Bush’s two Supreme Court nominees: Roberts and Alito. How moderate a Democrat can you be when you find conservative nominees such as those beyond the pale? Bayh even voted against Condoleezza Rice for secretary of state, and she is a woman who might be counted moderation itself (much to the frustration of some conservatives).

Furthermore: Bayh gave a speech at the ’08 Democratic National Convention that was obnoxious in its partisanship — even given that it was a convention speech. I mention this in my column, and blogged about the speech here, at the time.

Do I have a point? Just kvetching, being ungracious toward a senator on his way out? Well, I guess my point is this: I hope Senator Bayh enjoys his retirement from Congress and that Indiana replaces him with someone who would vote to confirm a Roberts or an Alito — or an Ashcroft or a Rice.

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