2/16/10 at 11:02 AM
I'm not sure people realize just how much the failure of health care demoralized Evan Bayh. As I learned in reporting for my upcoming book, The Promise: President Obama, Year One, out in May, White House aides David Axelrod and Jim Messina visited the Senate just before the August recess last year and left feeling much better after hearing from Bayh. He made them feel that the politics of getting reelected demanded passage of the bill, which at the time looked iffy. "We're all screwed if you don't get something real on health care," Bayh told them. This made Axelrod and Messina think that the moderates would be on board.
After the Massachusetts debacle, Bayh thought it was too late to get something real and that it was time to shift to other priorities. I think he figured he could beat Dan Coats in Indiana but it wasn't worth the effort. He and the Democrats were, in his mind, "all screwed."