Why Is It So Hard to Believe That Evan Bayh Just Hates Congress?

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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sure, it's unusual for a young incumbent senator with a good chance at reelection to announce his retirement, as Indiana's Evan Bayh did over the weekend. Many political observers wonder if the reason he gave for leaving — Congress has turned into a horrible nightmare of bitter partisanship and disappointment — was simply a cover for his presidential aspirations. Bayh may have closed the door on that speculation by telling MSNBC this morning that the chances of him running in 2012 were "None, whatsoever." Of course, when politicians are talking about running for president, "None, whatsoever" could actually mean, "Ask me in a few months." (Right, Obama?)

But still, have you seen Congress lately? Would you want to work there? We're not saying you, as in sitting at your cubicle right now deciding when to take a bathroom break for maximum monotony-busting potential you. We're saying you as if you're Evan Bayh, a centrist senator who can't get anything accomplished because Congress is broken, but who could easily slide into a less maddening and higher-paying job in a business or charity or university. Sounds like a pretty reasonable decision to us. In fact, Bayh is far from the first Democrat to cite the partisan rancor in Congress as a reason for leaving. It seems as if the GOP obstruction strategy has been even more successful than previously realized. Instead of slowing the Democratic agenda, creating frustration among voters, and hoping to win elections based on that frustration, they're cutting out the middle man and making Congress so god-awful that Democrats will just go away on their own.