Newsweek's Alter Buys What Bayh's Selling at Face Value; Insists Indiana Dem Thought He'd Be Able to Win Reelection

If there was an award for the journalist least skeptical of the official reason Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) has given for his decision to retire rather than seek reelection in November, I'd nominate Jonathan Alter for it.

A crusty veteran of political reporting, Alter most certainly can't be this gullible:

I'm not sure people realize just how much the failure of health care demoralized Evan Bayh. As I learned in reporting for my upcoming book, The Promise: President Obama, Year One, out in May, White House aides David Axelrod and Jim Messina visited the Senate just before the August recess last year and left feeling much better after hearing from Bayh. He made them feel that the politics of getting reelected demanded passage of the bill, which at the time looked iffy. "We're all screwed if you don't get something real on health care," Bayh told them. This made Axelrod and Messina think that the moderates would be on board.

After the Massachusetts debacle, Bayh thought it was too late to get something real and that it was time to shift to other priorities. I think he figured he could beat Dan Coats in Indiana but it wasn't worth the effort. He and the Democrats were, in his mind, "all screwed."

So not only does Alter completely buy what Bayh is selling on face value, he dismisses the notion that Bayh had a realistic shot of losing in November when matched up against a strong challenge in former Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind).

Scott Brown's win, Harry Reid's plummeting poll numbers, and the fact that Bayh follows Chris Dodd and Byron Dorgan is getting out while the getting's good apparently don't signal to Alter that Democrats are rightly fearing a potential electoral bloodletting in the midterms.

No, Bayh would win, Alter insists, it'd just be a waste of his precious time over the next six years of service to sit in the chamber that had flubbed the chance to pass ObamaCare.

Nice spin, Jon, but, do you think anyone besides the hundreds of readers Newsweek has left are buying it?

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.