In 2008 Barack Obama almost asked Evan Bayh to be his running mate. It was "a coin toss," recalls David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager. Bayh lost that toss, but the fact that he was a finalist—much as he'd been for John Kerry four years earlier—was proof that he was doing something right in his day job as junior senator from Indiana. His future seemed bright.Read the rest here.
Last month he announced his retirement.
There was no scandal. Bayh wasn't plagued by poor fundraising or low poll numbers. Nor is fatigue a likely explanation: at 54, Bayh is fairly young, at least when you're grading on the curve that is the United States Senate.
What drove Bayh from office, rather, was that he'd grown to hate his job. Congress, he wrote in a New York Times op-ed, is "stuck in an endless cycle of recrimination and revenge. The minority seeks to frustrate the majority, and when the majority is displaced it returns the favor. Power is constantly sought through the use of means which render its effective use, once acquired, impossible."
The situation had grown so grim, Bayh said, that continued service was no longer of obvious use. Americans were left with a bizarre spectacle: a member of the most elite legislative body in the most powerful country in the world was resigning because the dysfunctions of his institution made him feel ineffectual. "I simply believe I can best contribute to society in another way," Bayh explained, "creating jobs by helping grow a business, helping guide an institution of higher learning, or helping run a worthy charitable endeavor."
This is what it's come to, then: our senators envy the influence and sway held by university presidents.