Evan Bayh 's Record on Crime

In an earlier post about the rumor that Sen. Barack Obama will pick Evan Bayh as his running mate, I said I didn't have a problem with it. I may or may not be rethinking this. Bayh is not entirely consistent on crime issues, although he seems to have improved a bit in recent years (except for FISA and since I opposed any remake of FISA, even one without telecom immunity, I'm leaving that alone for the moment):

In 1996, Sen. Bayh spoke at the Democratic National Convention when Bill Clinton was nominated for a second term. We all know how bad Clinton was for Defendants' rights. (To his credit, he's come around quite a bit since being President -- maybe Bayh has too.) Anyway, Here's what Bayh said at the convention in 1996:

But a shadow threatens to spread over this new opportunity: Crime and violence. They prey upon our children and on our parents. Violence must be stopped. Violent criminals must be severely punished. And under President Clinton, they are.

Thanks to him, dangerous repeat offenders are going to jail for life - with no chance for parole. He is putting 100,000 more police on our streets. And that adds up. For each crime that's prevented - a victim is spared.


On Bayh's Senate website, he says:

Senator Bayh believes that the criminal justice system places disproportionate emphasis on the suspect instead of the victim.

He's gotten a little better since the days he voted to increase death penalty offenses, try more juveniles as adults and pass truth in sentencing laws:

2005-2006 Senator Bayh supported the interests of the Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants 70 percent in 2005-2006.

1999-2000 Senator Bayh supported the interests of the Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants 63 percent in 1999-2000.

The addiction/prevention folks are also happy with him:

2005-2006 Senator Bayh supported the interests of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors 100 percent in 2005-2006.

As is AILA on his immigration record:

2006 Senator Bayh supported the interests of the American Immigration Lawyers Association 88 percent in 2006.

Even better: (same link):

2005-2006 Senator Bayh supported the interests of the U.S. Border Control 16 percent in 2005-2006.

2005 Senator Bayh supported the interests of the [radical right]Federation for American Immigration Reform 0 percent in 2005.

Then again, he's bad on gun rights

His full voting record is here.

As others have said, he's a centrist through and through. I think Kathleen Sebelius is better on issues, but I suspect polling has shown Obama that Democratic voters are not going to support a female candidate other than Hillary.

Whoever Obama picks, you can be sure polling had a huge amount to do with it. That means he will go for the choice that is most palatable to middle America -- not to progressives. We are probably considered "fringe voters", one step short of being outlaws by any national presidential campaign. They want the heartland.

So the question is, who's the best centrist for Obama? Bayh seems pretty bland, like mayonnaise. At least he doesn't go around introducing major, comprehensive tough on crime bills every year. Talk about lowering one's expectations.....It's like that game people play at kids' birthday parties where you have to slide under the bar that gets lowered with every contestant. I just hope we're not all on the floor by the time November rolls around. Then again, better on the floor than underground, which is where we'll be if the Republicans win again.

< SUSA FL Poll: McCain By 6 | The "Authentic Liberal" >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Quick question (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by rjarnold on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:04:41 AM EST
    Who would be the most disappointing VP out of the 3 main choices: Bayh, Biden, or Kaine?

    I say Kaine, mainly because of his abortion stance.

    For me, Kaine. No question. (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by andgarden on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:10:43 AM EST
    Yup. Biden would be good (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by nycstray on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:13:03 AM EST
    for the occasional laugh and I do think he would add some needed experience, so it won't be him.

    Kerry states + IA + IN = 270 (none / 0) (#41)
    by magster on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 10:07:13 AM EST
    If Bayh can deliver IN, then he's the guy.

    Biden's a dealbreaker for me (none / 0) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:21:44 AM EST
    For all the reasons I wrote last week here.

    When you say 'dealbreaker' (none / 0) (#17)
    by rjarnold on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 02:04:10 AM EST
    do you mean someone that will cause Obama to lose your vote, or someone you'll just be really disappointed with?

    Corporate America's Go-To-Guy (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by shoephone on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 02:34:13 AM EST
    From OpenSecrets.org:

    Top Five Contributors and Industries in his last Senate election cycle, 2004

    In 2006

    2008 cycle

    "Change You Can Believe In"? Ya sure, you betcha.

    Taking the air out of the tires! (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 04:42:05 AM EST
    What an absolute let down this election has become. With the mood of the country as it is, Democrat's had a golden opportunity to be real Democrat's rather than Republican lites. All this drivel about change and what it boils down to again is voting for the lesser of two evils. And Bayh does nothing to improve my opinion or confidence in the election.

    I'm not even sure that Bayh will deliver Indiana to the Dem's and we'll lose a Senate seat in the process.

    Wonderful word, "progressive". . . (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by LarryInNYC on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 07:45:47 AM EST
    that can be used to condemn a candidate because he gets a low rating from the NRA!

    Can we retire this meaningless term?  It's like John Kerry's 2004 campaign "theme" (not a slogan, of course, sense he condemned sloganeering the day before he introduced his new "theme") -- The courage to be for the things you like and against the things you don't like!

    Oh, yuck (none / 0) (#1)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:01:09 AM EST
    Man, do I hate it when pols play on the absurd paranoisa of fear of crime ginned up by local TV stations.  "A shadow spreads" my backside.

    Yes, us fringe voters who are only in line with the majority of Americans on most issues.

    The Limbo! (none / 0) (#4)
    by nycstray on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:11:13 AM EST
    What an appropriate game mention! Only the politicians are cheating and jumping over the lowered bar.

    I don't have big issues with KS. I was originally against a "token" woman, but now I don't care if she is that "token". McCaskill, that's another story. Bayh doesn't bother me right now, and maybe because I see him as kinda obvious and he's not a "token" woman. Now granted I haven't done a ton of research on either, but I figure we aren't going to get anyone dynamic or overly experienced. As long as he doesn't cross over or pick a pro-life Dem, I think I can deal.

    I'm counting on my states at this point to protect me from some things and I'll foolishly look towards 2012. Unless of course Obama surprises me and earns my vote now or during the next couple years.

    Sebelius seems the best of those most noted. (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by BlueDevil on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:35:44 AM EST
    And, he won't pick Hillary. Too bad.

    The more I learned about the 3 top contenders, (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by rjarnold on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:56:29 AM EST
    the more I actually think that Sebelius would be a good choice.

    Agree (5.00 / 3) (#16)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:58:10 AM EST
    I'd like to see her get it

    thanks, I tried and tried (none / 0) (#7)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:23:05 AM EST
    and could not remember what the game was called. Now that you've provided it, I seem to remember adults played it too at dance parties (before my time, maybe the 50's?)

    Still played over the years (none / 0) (#13)
    by nycstray on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:48:50 AM EST
    heck, I've even done it. But it's more along the lines of what happens at weddings and sport events. I never knew the chicken dance until I was at Yankee Stadium. You have to be in the certain demographic at the time it's happening. I honestly can't remember when I did it, but I was a tad younger. I think we also did it in my gymnastic and dance classes for flexibility.

    Still a great description for Dems this year. "Lower the bar and do the Limbo!"


    Mostly the 60's (none / 0) (#22)
    by JavaCityPal on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 02:17:01 AM EST
    We learned it in PE class in Junior High, though it was started in the 50's. Chubby Checker, Limbo Rock made it big in the 60's.

    and, the last time I played it was 3 years ago at my daughter's Caribbean wedding. She and her friends were as familiar with it as they are with line dancing....all 90's & 00 teens/young adults.


    Oh yes... hahahaha... (none / 0) (#23)
    by weltec2 on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 02:32:18 AM EST
    "Don't move that limbo bar
    You'll be a limbo star
    How lowww can you gooo..."

    I remember that.


    I don't see the benefit (none / 0) (#8)
    by ChuckieTomato on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:25:41 AM EST
    He would help about as much as John Edwards did in '04.

    I don't imagine Bayh even polls particularly well, or any one that is under consideration for that matter, excluding Hillary.

    Most people don't know who they are.

    No we don't all know (none / 0) (#9)
    by Edgar08 on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:25:42 AM EST
    How bad Clinton was for defendants' rights.

    Or I guess maybe we all do.   Gosh.  I don't know what we all know at this point.

    There should be no capital punishment (5.00 / 0) (#11)
    by ChuckieTomato on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:40:20 AM EST
    for mentally retarded inmates.

    Sigh (none / 0) (#12)
    by Edgar08 on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:42:50 AM EST
    Fun blog.

    not to start a whole OT (none / 0) (#33)
    by NJDem on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 07:28:53 AM EST
    discussion, but for the record, the man in question was not mentally ill when he shot the police officer in the back (after killing another man).  He became that way due to a botched suicide attempt after the crimes were committed.  

    This probably will not changed anyone's mind on the subject, but thought I'd mention that fact b/c it's often conveniently left out.  


    Start with AEDPA (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:51:22 AM EST
    add in a ton of new mandatory minimum sentences, increased wiretapping, more death penalty crimes and go from there. Prosecuting more juveniles as adults. Opposing the Sentencing Commission's recommendations to equalize crack and powder cocaine penalties (towards the end he did recommend a 25:1 ration vs. 100:1 but Congress didn't go along.) Truth in Sentencing laws (requiring states to make inmates serve 85% of their sentences or lose federal money.) Forfeiture bills. Anti-terrorism laws.


    I wrote a monthly column on legislation for a criminal defsnse lawyers; magazine from 1994 to 2000 and followed every crime bill and spent a considerable amount of time every day lobbying members of Congress on many of them.

    As I said, when I got to meet him and ask him some questions in 2006, I was surprised and pleased to hear he now regretted that so many mandatory minumums came in on his watch and that he now believes we incarcerate far too may people and that former offenders should regain the right to vote.


    Community policing? (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by oldpro on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 02:06:00 AM EST
    Seems to have been effective in some realms.

    Something was.  Crime in almost every category went down considerably, as I recall.

    Back up since the 'real' law and order Republicans took over from Bill...


    From what I know, (none / 0) (#30)
    by Grace on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 04:51:58 AM EST
    it was effective in Los Angeles.  Gang violence and the murder rate have come down quite a bit since the 1990s.  Of course, part of that could have had to do with the better economy in the 1990s.

    I'm all for a lot of the laws that have been passed locally to combat gang crime but the one thing I've noticed that seems to prevent it the most is an active police presence.  The more police you have on the streets, the more crime goes down.  


    Info is good (none / 0) (#25)
    by Edgar08 on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 02:39:25 AM EST
    For a second there I wasn't sure just how bad.

    It's good to have the info so people can assess for themselves how bad bad is without having to concede to absolute badness or absolute perfection.

    The statement makes me defensive.  As long as it's just one person (me) it's really no big deal.  Chalk it up to a sort Post-Clinton Hatred Stress Disorder thing or something.  And your statement

    We all know how bad Clinton was for Defendants' rights.

    can be considered a truck backfiring across the street.

    I'm not going to try to make excuses for some of the bad policies.  Not all of them were good.  Crime did decrease dramatically in the 90s but one should be able to figure out a way to do that without imposing draconian laws on defendants.

    That should be the goal.  While I can say there was a dramatic decrease in crime in the 90s, I can't say Bill accomplished that goal.

    Now somebody better call me a cultist quick before I pass out.


    If Evan Bayh does become the Veep (none / 0) (#19)
    by weltec2 on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 02:06:31 AM EST
    nominee, that the Repugs are going to take a much closer look at his voting record with regard to the pharmaceutical companies that his wife represents. Take a peek at Susan Bayh Wikipedia.

    Whoa. (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by oldpro on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 02:16:31 AM EST
    Corporatism in spades.

    Isn't Obama gettng strong support (none / 0) (#20)
    by nycstray on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 02:12:59 AM EST
    from pharmaceuticals? I seem to remember that Edwards was busting on Clinton and Obama and she had lots of insurance backing and he pharmaceutical.

    My point was (none / 0) (#26)
    by weltec2 on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 02:46:46 AM EST
    that since 1994, Susan Bayh has served on 14 corporate boards primarily in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries fighting for deregulation of these industries. There has been some question about Evan's voting record along these lines. He has argued that he and his wife never discuss business together; nevertheless, his voting record on this has raised a few eyebrows.

    I would much rather an attorney looked at this and explained it. All I know is what I read and I do not wish to be spreading misinformation.


    Bayh is a reasonable Democrat, I guess. (none / 0) (#27)
    by OrangeFur on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 03:02:27 AM EST
    So are they all, reasonable Democrats.

    But it does seem that there's almost no chance that someone will be chosen who excites the liberal wing of the party--or as Howard Dean once said, the Democratic wing of the party.

    With the ever-continuing mind-meld between Obama and McCain, most recently on drilling, this is turning into one depressing election.

    Aside of Hillary, (none / 0) (#31)
    by Grace on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 04:55:01 AM EST
    there hasn't been a single person mentioned as a possible VP that excites me.  Why are all these people so bland?  

    And frankly (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by cmugirl on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 07:08:08 AM EST
    I don't want Hillary on the ticket with him.  I think he is tanking, and I would rather she not go down with him.  VP candidates of losing tickets historically do not fare well in the next cycle that they run for POTUS.

    Bayh, on the other hand - he seems bland, but I don't know enough about him to judge at this point (don't have time to read all the links right now). He did work hard for Hillary, and since I am a centrist, I don't have a problem with many "law & order" types, but I understand where many real progressives might have issues with him.  But I think he's exactly what Obama is looking for - someone who isn't as big a rock star as he is.  

    You can like that comparison or not, but I think it's a fair one. Obama became a rock star at the 2004 convention, and thought that's all it would take to sail into the WH - he's just starting to find out that the American people are not that dumb and we are real people with real problems who want real answers.


    Because Obama polls better (none / 0) (#40)
    by Valhalla on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 09:50:27 AM EST
    by himself than with anyone else on the ticket (aside from Clinton) in a lot of states.

    This is the closest he can come to being on the ticket by himself.


    The bland leading the bland (none / 0) (#35)
    by wurman on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 07:47:11 AM EST

    frankly, it makes little (none / 0) (#36)
    by cpinva on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 08:32:26 AM EST
    difference who sen. obama picks, they'll just be stuck holding the anchor chain for a sinking ship.

    even sen. clinton, should she be gracious enough to lower herself (and really, why should she?), can't save sen. obama from himself. his appeal, solely to the "creative class" and the AA community, his and his campaigns snide comments about sen. clinton and her supporters, during the primary, have effectively sealed his fate.

    before you argue, let's go to the polls, shall we? for such a hot commodity, sen. obama should be easily blasting sen. mccain out of the water right now. he isn't. not even close.

    oh, he'll get the AA community votes (really, what other choice do they have?), and the "creative class" votes (they tend to see things as they want, not as they truly are.), but that's pretty much it. he might get some of the youth vote, should they actually bother to do so.

    aside from the above, he's pretty much alienated everyone else, seemingly intentionally so.

    so, does everyone have their tickets, to pres. mccain's inaugural ball yet?

    BC may have signed on to some (none / 0) (#37)
    by masslib on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 08:52:25 AM EST
    god awful crime legislation, but the COPS program?  That's easily one of the most least talked about, most successful domestic program in the past several decades.  Crime went down by simply putting boots on the streets.  Urban mayors love COPS and Bush's short-shrifting it has been a disaster for most major cities in this country.

    But... (none / 0) (#38)
    by CoralGables on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 08:54:06 AM EST
    When it comes to crime, how do we change that approach to politics? As much as we may question excessive sentencing guidelines, capital punishment, etc., there is a truism in American politics...tough on crime, better education, lower taxes...hang your hat on all three and the American public will likely vote for you. Let your opponent label you as soft on crime and you will more often than not go down in ignominious flames.

    Sadly, when it comes to rehabilitation, ending capital punishment, and limiting incarceration, the label has already been determined. If you appear soft, any good you may have brought to the political discourse will be left on the porch. That is the acumen of the American electorate.

    If Bill Clinton was soft on crime, he would probably be best known among a handful of Razorbacks as the top political science instructor at the University Of Arkansas.

    In the political arena, other than through mandates from outgoing Governors with no further political ambitions, I just don't see how the current "tough on crime" approach changes.

    I'll tell you a really bad policy Bayh proposed... (none / 0) (#39)
    by masslib on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 09:30:33 AM EST
    with Obama actually.  It was a less carrot/more stick proposal for "dead beat" dads.  I don't remember the details, perhaps someone else does, but I remember thinking and just what on earth is that going to achieve?

    Your Concerns About Bayh's Website (none / 0) (#42)
    by Doc Rock on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 11:38:49 AM EST
    Let's be serious for a minute, Bayh has to win elections in Indiana.

    Researching Evan Bayh (none / 0) (#43)
    by waldenpond on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:06:48 PM EST
    I was wondering about other issues besides crime where Bayh is concerned...

    He doesn't seem to have been very negative towards Obama, so not much that could be used against them.  He found Obama's SF comments 'elitist and divisive' (Fox News).  and mentioned Obama's experience compared to Clinton and McCain...

    Bayh has same rep as Obama, what does he believe in? and thumbs his nose at the left. Cillizza

    DU on Kerry/Bayh...Bayh voted for Indiana's abortion counseling law and for the Vitter amend. in the Indian Health Bill (02/08).  Voted for Bush's tax cuts.

    What is the problem with Biden? (none / 0) (#44)
    by Jammer on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:45:39 PM EST

    Sorry, now I see your post on Biden. (none / 0) (#46)
    by Jammer on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:53:43 PM EST
    It is illuminating for sure, but I really do not think ideological purity is achievable, or desirable and it is seldom realized in our history.  Biden's sole attractions are attack dog par excellance and foreign policy experience.  You cant stand Biden, I couldnt stand to vote for Sibelius having invested my emotions in Hillary.  I like Ed Rendell myself.  But given the negatives, maybe Bayh is the safest choice.

    Bayh is milktoast... (none / 0) (#45)
    by Jammer on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 01:49:19 PM EST
    to me.  Biden is at least entertaining and smart.  Sibelius?  Sorry, not for this former Clinton supporter.  Plus a black and an unknown woman?  I dont think that helps.  Full consistency on issues with Presidential nominee is not necessary and seldom achieved in our history.  He needs someone who will deliver votes.  Hillary is obvious but I am not holding my breath.  Too much Clinton hatred on the Obama team.  I like Ed Rendell actually.  Gregarious, smart, delivers PA.  If its an attack dog its Biden.  But a lot of people seem to dislike Biden.  Dont know why.