Gather Round for a Smarmy Evan Bayh Lecture, Democrats!

Democrats will be delighted to read a guest op-ed in today's New York Times from retiring Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, lecturing his fellow Democrats about why they must become a right-wing party. What a troll, huh?

Evan Bayh announced his decision to retire after collecting $10 million in campaign cash which he barely even needed to win re-election. He missed the supposed old days of the Senate, when things weren't so partisan and fat slobs didn't criticize the dignity of United States Senators on their weblogs. So instead of staying in the Senate to try to change things from inside — tweaking filibuster rules, addressing campaign finance, passing laws to murder bloggers — Bayh decided he could be more effective by quitting and complaining. And he never gave away that $10 million in campaign cash, either.

In any event, explain what happened in the election, Evan Bayh?

And we were too deferential to our most zealous supporters. During election season, Congress sought to placate those on the extreme left and motivate the base - but that meant that our final efforts before the election focused on trying to allow gays in the military, change our immigration system and repeal the George W. Bush-era tax cuts. These are legitimate issues but unlikely to resonate with moderate swing voters in a season of economic discontent.

Well they didn't really work hard on any of those, all three of which are supported by independent voters. Besides, what should they have done instead to address economic discontent during the campaign season, in a way that appeals to moderate swing voters and gets lots of attention? If there was a bill that just said "This bill will fix the economy" and was guaranteed to work, we're sure the "extreme left," along with moderates, would not protest its signing. And since Bayh spends a lot of time in this column talking about the need to take deficit-cutting seriously, why is allowing certain Bush tax cuts to expire a crazy idea, when the other side wants to extend them permanently?

The stereotype of Democrats as wild-eyed spenders and taxers has been resurrected. To regain our political footing, we must prove to moderates that Democrats can make tough choices. Democrats should ban earmarks until the budget is balanced. The amount saved would be modest - but with ordinary Americans sacrificing so much, the symbolic power of politicians cutting their own perks is huge.

Democrats should support a freeze on federal hiring and pay increases. Government isn't a privileged class and cannot be immune to the times.

The vast majority of swing voters will never hear about either of these things, much less feel them — just as they don't feel the impact of short-term federal deficits. Symbolic tactical moves will not save Democrats in this economy. Wasn't that the point of last night?