Capitol Hill Bureau Chief
Politicians frequently appear on national talk shows when they're running for office, but Sen. Evan Bayh, the retiring Democratic senator from Indiana, appeared on "The View" Monday to explain why he's not
running for office later this year.
"I reached the conclusion that I could get more done for my country and for my state in the private sector," he told Barbara Walters. "Congress is so gridlocked these days. It's regrettable that with brain-dead ideology and strident partisanship, months go by and we don't get anything done."
If Bayh expected a softball interview after that, he was in for a shock.
"I hate to say it, but you sound like Sarah Palin right now," Joy Behar said, accusing the senator of quitting his job before his work was done.
"Do you want to look at my hand?" he joked, referring to the talking points Palin wrote on the palm of her hand when she appeared before the National Tea Party Convention earlier this month.
Elizabeth Hasselbeck, the conservative in the group, pounced on Bayh's remark about Palin. "You sit here and say, 'I'm sick of the partisanship,' yet you throw a cheap Sarah Palin joke in, so I don't really understand or believe you," Hasselbeck said. "I just think if you're going to participate in that, you can't be saying the other things. So I want to hold you accountable."
Bayh went on to explain that he is tired not only of the partisanship in Washington, but also of the spiraling federal deficits that Congress is running up.
"Why not quit during the Bush administration when the deficits went up?" Behar said. "Why quit now when we need you?"
After Bayh said that he was equally frustrated with the Bush administration's spending record, Whoopi Goldberg jumped in. "But you didn't leave. I think the leaving is the part that we're really having a hard time with," she said. "Sometimes when you're fighting the good fight, you're out there and you're going to get hit with the stuff. Why are you splitting?"
Bayh finally appealed to Goldberg, "You're going to get me in trouble with my wife if you're mad at me."
After describing the ways he thinks Congress can bypass partisanship in the future (more bipartisan meetings, less money in campaigns), Bayh told the women that he will not run for president in 2012, but did not rule out another run for office in the future.
Barbara Walters seemed not to buy the senator's assertion that he's fed up with politics. She signed off by saying, "Come back and see us, especially when you run again in 2016."