By Dan Balz for the Washington Post:
Sen. Evan Bayh’s surprise decision not to seek reelection touched off a debate Tuesday among strategists and scholars about whether the Indiana senator’s depiction of the “brain dead” politics and hyper-partisanship of Congress is accurate or overblown — and, if accurate, whether walking away was the right decision.
Bayh dealt a triple blow to his Democratic Party and to President Obama with his announcement Monday that he is sick of the partisanship in Washington and will not seek a third term. The decision put his seat — and, some forecasters said, possibly his party’s Senate majority — in jeopardy, sent a discomforting message to already demoralized Democrats about this year’s political climate and reminded voters that Obama has yet to usher in the post-partisan era, a major theme of his 2008 campaign. But it was as much Bayh’s stated reasons for leaving as the consequences that stirred controversy. “If in fact he believed that the Senate was broken and dysfunctional, then he had a responsibility to stand and man the pumps rather than run for the lifeboat,” said Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University. During a round of early morning interviews Tuesday, Bayh responded to criticism that he had left his party in the lurch and defended his decision to retire rather than stay and try to fix the system…
[continues in the Washington Post]