"Scoop" Bayh

MCKIVERGAN, DANIEL

"Scoop" Bayh A surprisingly hawkish Democrat. BY DANIEL MCKIVERGAN WITH THE OPENING of the 108 th Congress earlier this month, Democrat Evan Bayh, Indiana's junior senator, was rather busy. He...

...He held a press conference with Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, urging Congress to speed up the elimination of the marriage penalty tax...
...The world changed forever on September the 11th," he argued during Senate floor debate in support of the resolution authorizing force against Iraq...
...It is not surprising, then, that Bayh has aggressively made the case for the president's new strategic doctrine of preemption...
...While fellow Democratic senator Joe Lieberman was attacking President Bush's North Korean policy as too "confrontational," Bayh called for a "stronger" response to Kim Jong Il's nuclear provocation...
...So with polls of Democratic primary voters consistently showing little support for taking out Saddam or the Bush agenda in general, Bayh was probably wise to opt out of the 2004 primary race...
...Such hawkishness is quite bold for a Democrat, especially one considered to be of presidential timber, because the party's base is dominated by antiwar activists...
...On top of this, Congressional Quarterly recently released a study on members' voting patterns since President Bush took office...
...Needless to say, Bayh, who sits on the Intelligence and Armed Services Committees, is a different kind of Democrat...
...Bayh's position has put him on a collision course with Democratic leaders, and he hasn't flinched yet...
...On September 23, 2002, Al Gore told an audience in San Francisco that plans for dealing with Iraq should be shelved because there's "no evidence" Saddam Hussein has given weapons of mass destruction to terrorists...
...The principal lesson of that tragedy is that Daniel McKivergan is a deputy director of the Project for the New American Century...
...This is especially true on matters of national security, where, not unlike Scoop Jackson before him, Bayh has adopted what he calls a "muscular approach to foreign policy" that puts him at odds with most members of his own party...
...The media have of course played up Democratic objections to preemption (which properly understood includes preemption as an option should other means "to forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries" not work), because that's where most Democrats have come down on the issue...
...But his willingness to buck the party's establishment today could reap political dividends in 2008...
...And that's why I think the case for moving forward now, before [Saddam Hussein] has the chance to disseminate [weapons of mass destruction], is compelling...
...As with President Bush and his national security team, the 9/11 attacks deeply affected Bayh's thinking on how best to protect Americans...
...Furthermore, said Gore, the preemption doctrine was just another effort by the administration "to please the portion of its base that occupies the far right...
...He also worked with Republican senators Jon Kyl, John McCain, and Jeff Sessions on legislation empowering the president to, among other things, impose full economic sanctions against Pyongyang, interdict weapons or weapons-related shipments to and from North Korea, and bolster our military forces in the region...
...America waited too long to address the gathering danger in Afghanistan...
...Nor does Bayh hold his tongue on the subject of Kim Jong Il, whom, he warns, may be "willing to export nuclear weapons materials to terror groups who target the American people...
...If Democrats get trounced in 2004 while offering up a national security liberal like Vermont governor Howard Dean, Bayh would then be in a strong position in 2008 as he ran against, say, one of the other newly appointed members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Hillary Rodham Clinton...
...It found that Bayh backed Bush 79 percent of the time, the eighth highest among Democrats...
...We must not make that mistake again...
...The very next day, on Fox News, Bayh responded to Gore's assessment of the Iraq situation: "To wait until an attack is, quote, 'imminent'ówell, our intelligence, as we found out, is not perfect, and we would run the risk of a real calamity...

Vol. 8 • January 2003 • No. 19


 
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