On paper, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh has plenty of qualifications to be president. As a governor, he kept a lid on spending.
As a senator, he has stayed close to the political center, which enables him to work with both sides of the aisle.
The soft stuff is there, too. Articulate, telegenic looks, great family.
Bayh’s attempts at higher office have fallen short, though. He’s been passed over a couple of times for vice president. And he ended his own shot at the Democratic nomination for president in late 2006 after it became apparent he couldn’t compete with the Obama and Clinton juggernauts.
Why the disappointments? Some observers say that despite the resume, he isn’t actually known for much. He hasn’t accomplished enough to establish a reputation. Voters don’t know what stirs his soul.
Maybe fiscal responsibility is just that calling. It’s been a consistent theme of his tenure in politics, and now he’s taking another step that ramps up his visibility.
Bayh is taking the lead in asking Obama and Senate leaders to create an independent commission to wrestle the debt into submission.
The political climate in Washington has become so poisonous that virtually any attempt to cut spending is torn to bits by opponents. Often it isn’t only the idea left in tatters; the people are, too.
So, Bayh suggests, a commission of Democrats, Republicans and the administration could make the hard choices. He wants to tie creation of the commission to a must-pass vote next month to allow the government to borrow nearly $1 trillion.
The commission would come up with budgets to send to Congress that then would be voted up or down. Sort of like the commissions that have made the politically unpalatable decisions about which military bases to close.
The nation certainly needs a type of savior to dig it out of its fiscal tar pit. Perhaps Bayh could pull it off.
How do you feel about fiscal responsibility as presidential mettle? Is it sexy enough?