The Spectacle Blog

Not Bayh-ing It

By on 8.14.08 | 11:47AM

Red state Democrat. Executive experience. U.S. Senate experience. Appeal to working class voters. Potential to make a strong Bush state competitive. At first glance, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh seems like the ideal choice to be Barack Obama's running mate. But the growing buzz that Bayh could be the pick already has the left in a tizzy.

Bayh was once considered a likely Democratic candidate for president, but, like Mark Warner, he bailed out because he was too hawkish and moderate for this electoral environment.

The more he's mentioned as a possible VP candidate, the more opposition there is to him among the netroots. The Washington Independent notes that "now something close to the opposite of a draft is rumbling among concerned Democrats," citing, among other items, a new Facebook Group "100, 000 Strong Against Evan Bayh for VP."

The trickiest aspect of a Bayh nomination would be the fact that he was a strong supporter of the invasion of Iraq, and were he on the ticket, the McCain campaign would have plenty of video of Bayh making the case for overthrowing Saddam, which would undercut Obama's message, and certainly dull any attacks he launches against McCain on the war. A few weeks ago, TPM reported that in 2003, Bayh was an honorary co-chair, along with John McCain and Joe Lieberman, of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which blogger Greg Sargent referred to as, "a neo-con group that was formed to propagandize the country into war." The Booman Tribune writes, "It would be hard to f--- up Barack Obama's brand any worse than picking John McCain's honorary co-chairman of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq."

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Goldberg recalls the Indiana Senator's hawkishness on Iran in early 2007, when Bayh said:

"You just hope that we haven't soured an entire generation on the necessity, from time to time, of using force because Iraq has been such a debacle. That would be tragic, because Iran is a grave threat. They're everything we thought Iraq was but wasn't. They are seeking nuclear weapons, they do support terrorists, they have threatened to destroy Israel, and they've threatened us, too."

All of this, I think, shows the difficulty Obama faces as he searches for a running mate. A lot of the red state Democrats are too moderate for the liberal base of the party that helped win Obama the nomination. The names who typically come up as people with stature and foreign policy experience supported the Iraq War and thus would blunt his message. And yet if he settles for a governor who doesn't have enough of a record on foreign policy to really undermine Obama (Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius come to mind), he reinforces his inexperience and the riskiness of his own candidacy.
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